As a recently retired career fire officer in Montgomery County, I read with great interest "Fire and Rescue: The Volunteers Are Doing Fine" {Letters to the Weekly, May 21}.

The taxpayers should be grateful that the new county executive is taking steps to organize the fire and rescue services. For years, there have been moves to place the fire and rescue services of Montgomery County under one system, instead of the 18 individual systems that we have now. More accountability for the $44 million that is invested in the system appears to be possible.

A reduction in the duplication of efforts of each individual organization will improve the efficiency of operations of these critical services; it certainly cannot hurt. And standardization in training, administration, operations and other critical aspects of fire and rescue training of personnel, both career and volunteer, will certainly make the system better.

I doubt that anyone will dispute the fact that volunteers should be admired for the superior quality of service provided over the years -- and will continue to provide. I would like to dispute, however, the number of 2,000 volunteers mentioned in The Post's article. I doubt that number represents a realistic account of personnel responding to incidents. If we took a look at the real figures, I'm sure we would find that there is actually more equipment than there is manpower to operate it. In some cases, an actual failure to respond at all occurs.

It seems only natural that a business of this kind should be managed on a full-time basis. I can only hope that during this transition, the overall purpose of the fire and rescue services continues to be to preserve life and property and that this is not overlooked as political battles evolve between the parties. JOHN T. McNEECE Columbia