We are the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters. We are the labor organization that represents more than 800 career Firefighters, Firefighter/EMT-Intermediates, Firefighter/Paramedics, Lieutenants, and Captains that staff the 31 fire stations throughout Anne Arundel County, as well as support roles throughout the administrative bureaus such as dispatchers, fire marshals, academy training staff, and many others.
You Might Not Know That…
Many citizens we encounter believe we are volunteers. While you may see us on fire engines or ambulances that say “volunteer”, in nearly every case these apparatus are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the men and women of the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters. Being a large suburb of Baltimore, as well as our close proximity to Washington, DC, along with our high traffic highways, our call volume in Anne Arundel County precludes the type of all-volunteer workforce found in rural areas.
We work a four (4) platoon system. What that means is that we work a 24 hour shift with 3 days off. Our shift begins at 7AM and ends the following day at 7AM. This may sound on the surface like it is not a lot. In reality, it means we work a 42 hour work week. Also, we are not closed for business on weekends or holidays. Our members routinely miss Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. During our shift we perform daily and weekly equipment checks, workout to maintain physical fitness, engage in fire, EMS or rescue training exercises, perform housework and administrative duties, and perform inspections, in addition to handling calls for emergencies.
The myths would have you believe firefighters sit around watching television or playing cards all day while waiting for the next call. As you read above, this is not the case. Yes, we too must have some down time during 24 hours, but with activities to perform and call volumes of many of our stations, down time is often scarce.
Many people often complain about our fire engines being used to go to grocery stores. The reality of this is that, with the low staffing of our stations, there is no other alternative. We work a 24 hour shift, and most shifts eat lunch and dinner as a group. With only 2 or 3 people on each fire engine or medical unit, we do not have any way to send an extra person in a smaller utility vehicle to grocery shop. That would place an engine or medical unit out of service and affect your safety. When you see us at the store, rest assured we are listening and ready to respond to emergencies in the area. And come up and say hi while you are at it!!
The Reality in Anne Arundel County
Most citizens we encounter on calls think their closest fire station is staffed with volunteers – and the building and trucks may actually say “volunteer” –however, while these buildings and apparatus may in some cases be staffed with volunteers, in almost all cases those volunteers supplement the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters who staff those stations 24/7. In addition, those buildings, apparatus maintenance, fuel, and of course staff is mostly paid for from YOUR TAX DOLLARS
The increased demands of today’s fire services in terms of initial certifications and training as well as annual recertification, and even advanced training has made it difficult for large suburban areas such as Anne Arundel County to rely solely on volunteers. That along with their own careers, increasing population and call volume demands a strong, “all hazards” workforce, around the clock.
The men and women of the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters have each endured not only a rigorous hiring process, but a strenuous fire training academy lasting several months, 5 days a week. Many of our members have gone on to get advanced degrees and certifications in fields such as Hazardous Materials, Technical Rescue, and Advanced Life Support (EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic). This allows our members to better serve you.
In Anne Arundel County, when you or a loved one is critically ill or injured and requires advanced life support treatment and transport, you will be treated and transported by members of the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters. All Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulances in Anne Arundel County are staffed by Paramedics, EMT-Intermediates, and EMT-Basics of the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters. There are no volunteer staffed ALS ambulances in Anne Arundel County; however there are some Basic Life Support ambulances, capable of treating non-life threatening injuries that are occasionally staffed by volunteers.
Anne Arundel County has a complex staffing matrix. Some busier fire engines in areas such as Glen Burnie, Brooklyn, West Annapolis, or Waugh Chapel are staffed with three (3), Ladder trucks and Tower ladders are staffed with (3), and all Advanced Life Support transport units with two (2) providers. Some stations however are dependently staffed. This means that if one of the units (the fire engine for instance) gets a call, the personnel respond on that, leaving any other apparatus out of service (the ALS transport unit). This means if you live near this station and call 911, there will likely be nobody there to respond, because the two people working are already gone, and there is no staff for the other apparatus. Many fire engines are only staffed with (2); areas such as Davidsonville, Shady Side, Edgewater and Crownsville. To put these staffing levels in perspective, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards call for a minimum of (4) four on every fire apparatus. Also, a recent live fire study performed in controlled labs by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) found that (3) person crews are much slower at completing essential fire ground tasks, and that (2) person crews cannot perform essential tasks quickly enough to rescue potential victims without a significant decrease in survivability of the hazardous conditions.
Some stations are volunteer owned but are staffed with Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters as well. In most cases, there are not volunteers at these stations during the weekdays. There may be some at nights and on weekends. In other cases, these stations that are volunteer owned may go days without volunteers in the station, or there may never be any there riding apparatus.
See For Yourself…Stop in to your local fire station and see for yourself who answers your emergency calls. Bring your children and your questions. We’ll be there, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Page Last Updated: Feb 16, 2012 (06:12:06)