Work group to draw up prevention strategies after structure injures firefighters on duty


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — A 30-page investigative report commissioned by the Washington County Department of Emergency Services shows what happened during a structure fire resulting in three firefighters being injured in the line of duty on June 29.

“The first thing we want to do is look at that incident itself and try to figure out what were the events that led up to an unfortunate day for us,” said David Hays, director of the Division of Emergency Services.

The goal is to put together a workgroup that will make recommendations and develop strategies that could be considered for implementation and approval.

Some strategies can range from firefighter accountability on the scene to competency evaluations and training for incident commanders.

“There’s going to be a combination between Department of Emergency Services personnel, Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, active fire chiefs and EMS chiefs, and part of the emergency services advisory committee that is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners,” said Dale Fishack, President of the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association.

“Our job as a firefighter is inherently dangerous business, but we combat that by effective training, drilling regularly, and always continuing to educate ourselves,” said Fishack.

Another challenge, helping to ensure there’s adequate firefighter staffing, has been previously prioritized, authorized by the board of county commissioners, and funded in current budgets; with full implementation expected in 2022.

A 30-90 day timeline is expected to be set with the workgroup that we are looking to establish. That workgroup will be tasked with evaluating the report’s recommendations and developing strategies that could be considered to implement the recommendations contained in the report.

The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) will need to formally approve the workgroup. Once the workgroup completes its work, the BOCC will be provided the information to determine further action and or authorization to implement the recommendations.

All three firefighters that were injured in the fire are now back to work.

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