Frederick County Government values its employees and takes seriously the need to protect their safety. This is especially true for those employees who put their lives on the line each day. A probationary firefighter’s injuries in 2017 were unfortunate. They were not, however, a result of unsafe gear, as claimed by the leadership of the Career Firefighters Association.
Frederick County Government investigated the November 25, 2017, incident and has addressed the concerns raised in the report. The injured firefighter was wearing NFPA-approved gloves and protective hood. Since the incident, newer style gloves and hoods have been provided to nearly every career firefighter in the Division of Fire & Rescue Services (DFRS). In addition, recruits are now issued a full set of protective clothing when they leave the academy.
Prior to the cited incident, DFRS applied for a $2 million federal grant to replace PPEs that were reaching 10 years old the following year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied the grant request, saying the gear was not old enough to qualify for replacement funds. That is why last fall County Executive Jan Gardner submitted the county’s first-ever supplemental budget request, which included $1 million to replace safety gear for both career and volunteer firefighters. When she announced the supplemental budget during her annual State of the County Address, Executive Gardner said it would take several years to fund the firefighters’ full request for both replacement gear and a second set of protective clothing for every firefighter. The County Council supported Executive Gardner’s supplemental budget request, and replacement equipment was requisitioned in January. That gear is on order, and DFRS is currently conducting an audit to identify which career firefighters have gear that is at least 10 years old so the vendor can perform individual sizing of coats and pants.