Counties Urge General Assembly to Take First Steps to Address Firefighter Shortage

On February 21, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in support of SB 0414 – Commission to Advance and Strengthen Fire Fighting Within Maryland.

SB 414 is one of MACo’s legislative initiatives for the 2023 legislative session, distinguishing this issue as an extremely high priority for all 23 counties and Baltimore City. The House Appropriations Committee will consider the bill’s cross-file, HB 0788, on March 16. Senator Malcolm Augustine and Delegate Samuel (Sandy) Rosenberg are the respective Senate and House sponsors.

If signed into law, SB 0414 would establish the Commission to Advance and Strengthen Fire Fighting Within Maryland, for the purpose of studying and making recommendations on the efficacy of practices employed in other states to attract, support, and retain individuals in fire fighting roles. This bill brings together a broad coalition of stakeholders to address what is an intensifying challenge for the State. Though Maryland’s fire service is able to adequately meet demand at present, retirements are outpacing recruitment and retention, causing a shortfall in personnel and an overuse of those still willing and able to serve. Indeed, finding solutions to this troubling trend is one of MACo’s priority initiatives for the 2023 legislative session.

From the MACo Testimony:

Marylanders benefit from a broad network of firefighting services capable of responding to a wide range of emergencies. For several decades now, recruitment and retention have been on the decline. Once a key part of the connective tissue bringing together communities, working as a career and/or volunteer firefighter has lost its appeal. While Maryland’s fire service is capable of meeting today’s demand, the future looks troubling. Support for these essential first-responders is more important than ever. SB 414 can take a strong step in the right direction and support our firefighting services by analyzing ways to support modern recruitment and retention efforts.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database

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