County Fire Marshal’s Office looks at personnel issues

(March 14, 2014) The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office could use some help, especially because retirements among the small staff are anticipated.

One long-time employee is expected to retire within a year or so and Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon said he could retire in a couple of years. Another is marrying and could relocate. The office could go from an experienced staff of four down to one in a short time period, McMahon told the Worcester County Commissioners during its March 11 budget work session.

In addition to McMahon, the Fire Marshal’s Office employs one chief deputy fire marshal and two deputy fire marshals and one administrative assistant. When one of the small staff is out sick or on vacation, it makes the work load even more substantial. One member of the Fire Marshal’s Office was out of commission for 14 weeks due to a hand injury.

During 2013, the Fire Marshal’s Office conducted 137 fire and explosive investigations and approximately 60 of those required two investigators. The office also handled nine arsons and made eight arrests.

In addition, the office handled eight Hazmat incidents, 2,437 fire safety inspections and 271 fire code compliance plan reviews. Its personnel also conduce 19 fire prevention programs for the public and provided support and assistance for code compliance of health and safety standards to county fire and EMS groups.

Because of the work load, which has been steadily increasing partly because of development in the West Ocean City area, and because it takes about two years to get a fire marshal up to speed, and because of the anticipated retirements, McMahon asked the commissioners to hire an additional deputy fire marshal.

McMahon also asked for funds to replace an 11-year-old computer and two early digital cameras. In all, for fiscal year 2015, McMahon requested $466,451, a 21.5 percent increase over the fiscal year 2014 adopted budget of $383,980.

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