LINTHICUM, MD. -- Maryland aviation officials are seeking the first permanent increase in fire and safety staff at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport since 1972.

The $86.8 million budget proposed for the State Aviation Administration for the next fiscal year includes $676,000 for the addition of 15 firefighters and nine paramedics at BWI, something state Aviation Administrator Theodore Mathison said is needed to meet the needs of the growing airport.

The budget proposal asks for $270,000 to pay for nine paramedics and five firefighters added last year after the budget was approved. Those positions, created after a summer study indicated they were needed, are among the ones Mathison wants made permanent.

Aside from those hirings last summer, BWI has not increased its 45-worker fire and safety force since 1972, when 2.8 million passengers used the airport. More than 9 million used it last year.

A study completed last summer showed that the BWI crews responded to 676 emergencies in 1986, 219 of them medical.

But a study by a legislative budget analyst concluded that the paramedics and firefighters hired last summer should be able to provide coverage for multiple emergencies. The study recommends that the legislature pare BWI's request by nine firefighters, saving $169,000 a year.