Montgomery County Executive Sidney Kramer yesterday named seven people to serve on the county's Fire and Rescue Commission, saying that while he hopes the appointments will end some controversy, more changes in the fire service are likely.
The appointments are the result of a bitter battle in last year's election between the county's career and volunteer firefighters over who should appoint the commission's members. The career members of the county's unusual hybrid system wanted the county executive to make the appointments, a move opposed by the volunteers.
Montgomery is the only county in the area in which career firefighters work for the 18 independent departments under a system run by volunteers, rather than for the county.
Prior to passage last fall of "Question E," which gave the county executive rather than the fire board authority to appoint all the commissioners, the executive appointed two of the commission members and the other five were appointed by a fire board composed mostly of chiefs and volunteers from the independent departments. Yesterday's announcement was the first time the executive appointed all of the commission members.
The appointments must be confirmed by the County Council. The commission has some limited authority over the 18 departments, making policy and procedures as well as advising government on fire and rescue service.
One of the first tasks Kramer wants the commission to undertake is to help determine how to revamp Montgomery's fire system. Montgomery government officials said they believe there is a need for greater county control over the volunteer firefighting system, an effort that has met with strong resistance from the fire companies.
Sixty-one persons applied for the commission positions. Commissioners receive an annual salary of $8,000, with the chairman, elected by the commission at its first meeting, receiving $10,000. The terms, which range from one to three years, start Aug. 1.
Named to the commission were Kevin Maloney, two-term member of the commission; Ronald Ogens, who has served on the commision since 1984, and Chevy Chase Fire Department Chief William D. McLaughlin.
Also appointed were Douglas Stutz, chief of the Hillandale Volunteer Fire Department; Mary S. Coburn, an emergency room nurse at Holy Cross Hospital; Robert A. Rogers, a records management administrator with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and Richard F. Ulrich, professor and Fire Science Coordinator at Montgomery College.