Starting March 1, Branchville Volunteer Fire Company will be losing all of its career firefighters and will run solely on volunteer firefighters.
According to Prince George's County fire officials, the cut is being made due to budgetary constraints because the Branchville Station is close enough to other stations that those stations can cover the area if volunteers from Branchville are not available.
Currently, the Branchville Station is all-volunteer staffed during the evenings, weekends and holidays. Career firefighters work Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Branchville Fire Chief Richard W. Leizear and Volunteer President James Crisman think the move will affect the safety of residents covered by the Branchville department.
"This is not the first time that career staffing has been removed from Branchville only to be replaced years later," Crisman said. "The volunteers covered about 70 percent of the calls when career staffing was removed before, 30 percent of the calls for Branchville went unanswered from the closest station to those that called 911 for an emergency."
The lack of career firefighters and EMS could affect the time people wait for fire and ambulance, Leizear said.
"Unfortunately, if a citizen that resides in our first-due response area calls 911 for an emergency, there is a strong possibility that longer response times will occur; seconds count in emergencies," said Leizear.