Fire and police officials urged the Metro board last night to grant passes to firefighters and plainclothes police officers for free trips on subway trains and buses.

Prince George's County Fire Chief M.H. (Jim) Estepp, chairman of the fire chiefs technical committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Goverments, said such passes would encourage more firefighters to ride the Metro system.

"The citizens gain because they are much better protected," Estepp said at a hearing. He argued that safety officials could provide help quickly in emergencies, including train fires and heart attacks.

The transit authority's board of directors is considering revising its policies on transit passes to allow free rides by fire and rescue personnel and nonuniformed police.

The move would overturn a controversial action by the Metro board last year, under which the passes were revoked.

Carlton R. Sickles, chairman of the board's safety subcommittee, said a vote is likely next month. Metro now provides free trips to uniformed police officials, current and retired Metro employes, and current and former Metro board members.

Last year, the agency withdrew passes from other government and private employes in an attempt to cut costs and prevent misuse.

At last night's hearing, Gary W. Hankins, labor committee chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents District police officers, said: "Police officers are not asking for a free ride. We are supporting an exchange of services."

Hankins said nonuniformed police officers use police cars on some trips to avoid paying a Metro fare. Passes would encourage officers to use the transit system, he argued.