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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin Fire Co. gives updated report on budget

By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer

Berlin Fire Co. President David Fitzgerald provides a quarterly report about budget and responses to emergency calls to the Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday.

(July 30, 2020) Berlin Fire Co. President David Fitzgerald presented the quarterly report from April 1 to June 30 to the Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday.

Between April 1 and June 30, the fire company responded to 25 in-town fire and rescue calls, making up almost 30 percent of total calls.

“That’s a lower number than usual,” Fitzgerald said. “With covid-19, we find that people just aren’t having the accidents here in town or anywhere because that travel is restricted.”

According to the report, the busiest days were Saturday, then Sunday and Monday. The busiest times of day were 2-3 p.m. and 12-1 p.m.

The calculated response time is about nine minutes for the fire crews to be on scene. The county response time standard is six minutes, and the Matrix report states the response should be nine minutes or less, Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald also provided budget highlights from the fiscal year (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020). The donation drive was $3,000 less than budgeted this last quarter. However, fundraiser revenue was up slightly from rentals prior to covid-19 closures.

The fire company experienced some unexpected expenditures this past fiscal year, including a replacement gear washer costing $9,500.

“That’s a requirement,” Fitzgerald said. “They can’t have carcinogens on their gear. It needs to be clean before they wear it next time or go in their vehicle or store it.”

Unplanned tires, pump and valve repairs brought vehicle maintenance and repair costs to $10,000 more than budgeted.

As for an update on the 2020-21 fiscal year budget, the fire company needs to plan for funding for future breathing apparatus from 3M Scott and capital equipment that will not be fully covered by grants.

“These need to be purchased all at one time,” Fitzgerald said for the safety and consistency of operations.

In addition, town cuts will result in reduced state aid funds in next budget. Fitzgerald said he will update the mayor and council about the impact of cuts on the budget during the first quarter of the fiscal year.

Fitzgerald also provided a quarterly update for the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) at the Berlin Fire Co.

Between April 1 and June 30, the EMS staff responded to 170 in-town calls, making up 51.5 percent of total calls, and 160 calls outside of town.

The EMS staff also conducted 116 transports and 54 non-transports in town that period.

The busiest days for EMS were Saturday, then Tuesday and Thursday. The busiest times of day were 12-1 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.

The average response time of the EMS staff is nearly one and half minutes, which includes the second and third run calls that may be full volunteer response from home.

For the 2019-20 fiscal year revenue budget, donations were $700 less than budgeted. However, annual donations rose $549 and invoices were an additional $9,872 than budgeted.

“We had some expired items and things needed to be replaced, and then our payroll was slightly higher and that’s due to we have employees that are having children and change plans,” Fitzgerald said.

The cost of medical supplies was $5,800 more than budgeted and payroll/benefit costs were $7,600 higher than budgeted. The cost of fuel was also slightly more expensive than projected in the budget.

With a decrease in volunteers for EMS, the voluntary incentives were $6,546 less than expected.

“EMS is definitely not a volunteer interest across the nation, and then you put covid-19 on top of it, you really don’t have volunteers want to come because they can’t take a chance on getting infected and being quarantined or restricted from their duties to affect their paying job,” Fitzgerald said.

The Berlin Fire Co. had to take a $100,000 loan for a new ambulance in service and is paying back the loan from county allocation for ambulances.

As for an update on the EMS 2020-21 fiscal year budget, there will be an immediate elimination of second EMT to make second crew.

This will likely result in delayed response and need for volunteers or other companies to respond.

With monitoring the budget, the next cut will be no backfill of personnel, Fitzgerald said.