Yesterday, we met Chief Green of PGFD and her staff to discuss a few important issues surrounding the recent service cuts at the four fire departments around College Park. The chief of Staff from two City Council members (CM Dernoga and CM Olson) were also in attendance. Here is a brief summary of the meeting.

1. Staffing Shortage: Chief Green assured us that the current staffing plan is temporary. With the funding secured, the Prince George’s County Fire Department(PGFD) is set to add 150 new career staff in a few months. PGFD will reassess the situation in October, and full staffing is anticipated to be back by Spring next year. The City will monitor this closely to see how it plays out.

2. Communication: We shared our concerns about the need for more robust communication from the PGFD about the staffing plan. The City and our residents learned about the announcement when the press published the plan. We asked the Fire Chief to let us know about future changes. The Chief has pledged to maintain regular communication with College Park’s stakeholders, ensuring they are always updated on the temporary staffing plan. The details of these meetings are yet to be finalized, but the Chief’s commitment to this regular communication is a positive step. The Chief committed to sending a letter to residents about the plan. Furthermore, the Chief is open to attending future City Council and community meetings.

3. Data: We told her College Park will definitely be impacted by the recent staffing plan, and we’d want to see the extent of that impact by reviewing the service call data. The Chief said she would get data on service calls and staff retention. Once we compile the list of questions, we plan to send it to her.

4. Volunteer recruitment: We raised concerns about the time it takes for a volunteer to start working in our County. Volunteers are cleared to start working much sooner in our neighboring counties (MoCo, Howard, Charles, etc.). This is mainly because of the time it takes to get security clearance. The chief’s staff said they have recently implemented an online system to cut down the process to only a few days. We are eagerly anticipating the positive impact of this new system.