MWCOG Chairman McDuffie gets it right
“Workers used to follow jobs, but an increasing number of companies are following talent, which is a competitive advantage for our region,” said Kenyan McDuffie, COG Board of Directors Chairman and District of Columbia Councilmember. “Area leaders need to build on this strength by ensuring that more of our residents are prepared for the high-quality jobs that these companies are creating.”
County Executive Baker in his 2035 Plan also points to the richness that residents of the various communities in Prince George’s County bring to the region. One overlooked segment of our society is the value that volunteer fire departments bring to the table. The Morningside Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD), for example, which has been targeted by various people to reduce its effectiveness, is actually thriving because people see that the educational programs and training gets them jobs. Many members have come from all over the Country to MVFD and received Federal funds for education, hands on training and mentoring and are snapping up jobs in the regional fire & police departments. Unfortunately, local residents are not getting the benefits at the rate of people from Pennsylvania, Florida and the Midwest because the volunteer companies are not valued by the Fire/EMS Department Officials in the County. Various political pressures (that lack good sense) put burdens on volunteer corporations to purposefully diminish them. Citizens are discouraged from volunteering locally and County efforts to recruit residents are minimal at best. For example, students who seek to volunteer for training in Prince George’s County are forbidden to join volunteer companies. (How strange is that?)
The amount of money the Federal Government is pumping into volunteer corporations is staggering. Since the volunteer service makes up about 70% of the workforce in this nation, when it comes to public safety, it is clear the Federal Government understands that a healthy volunteer service is vital to the nation’s readiness. Recently, Pennsylvania has renewed its commitment to volunteerism and funding is being ramped up in that State to strengthen volunteer companies.
“For two centuries we’ve been known as the ‘Federal Capital,’ but the data is now telling us a different story about metropolitan Washington—in the twenty-first century we’re the ‘Human Capital’ region,” said Chuck Bean, COG Executive Director.
Volunteers in Prince George’s County while greatly diminished in recent years are trying every effort to maximize people who join their ranks. Morningside VFD has seen volunteer participation increase greatly since it has become 100% volunteer and the Feds and State governments have rewarded them accordingly with support. Mike Poetker, Volunteer Chief of MVFD, has a great vision for his organization and has expanded his organization’s capability to providing emergency medical services. Due to the increased funding from the Federal Government and increased EMS members, Morningside VFD is seeking to put a second ambulance in service. Most days members have no unit to ride because there are more volunteers than seats to fill so they take turns running calls. The EMS Committee is gaining momentum and has requested a support vehicle from the County to improve EMS Operations. The request has yet to be filled but members are hopeful. EMS services are so strapped that the County has to go on alert everyday because they are short of EMS units.
Morningside has a viable solution and hopefully the County will respond favorably to Morningside’s requests. Adding an additional ambulance and support unit makes sense. The ladder truck which the Chief swears will never go in service is also vital to the future of the community fire protection program and job training. Hopefully the future administration will see the current lack of capability in Prince George’s County and approve the additional truck. It makes no sense that the County has no reserve fleet for all unit types and Morningside and other companies are willing to purchase new vehicles worth millions but the County says it doesn’t need the units.
“Area leaders must continue to invest in the creation of quality places—centers of activity and opportunity around our region that will appeal to the future workforce—while also working together to maximize the wealth of talent that is already here,” said Chuck Bean, COG Executive Director. That is exactly what Morningside is hoping will happen with the incoming Chief of PGFD. We at Morningside appreciate the influx of people across the Country that see the richness of paid fire/police departments in the area and their willingness to relocate here to take advantage of the opportunities. We are also reaching out to the community here in Prince George’s County and hope the administration will support Morningside’s initiatives to provide more riding positions so more people can be trained. It will work to the benefit of the community as well as MVFD.