Morningside ambulance dispute between PG County and volunteer fire department

SUITLAND, Md. (WJLA) -- At Dee’s Barbershop in Morningside, people know about the feud – a fight that is mainly the result of an agreement between the county and the union, which states that stations must have at least four career firefighters.

This means four county paid firefighters - not volunteers - and the fire chief at the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department says that if it's a choice between four or zero, he'll take zero.

He says they simply don’t need the extra firefighters because they’re well-staffed. The county can take back its ambulance, which raises serious safety concerns amongst county officials.

"In 2012, 3,600+calls that the ambulance ran will now create a delay of anywhere from five to ten minutes for another ambulance to arrive on the scene and initiate care," Prince George's County Fire spokesman Mark Brady says.

The volunteer fire department also argues three points: one, the four-man mode often leaves the ambulance understaffed; two, they can respond and provide the same care on the fire trucks; three, seven out of the ten calls for the ambulance are typically outside of the Morningside area.

The county’s fire chief says he’s going to fight to keep the ambulance at the station, but it gets tricky because the volunteers own the station. They own the rights to the property, and can dictate what apparatus can stay.

If the ambulance is removed on Monday, the County’s fire chief is threatening to remove the volunteer fire chief and restrict where they can respond – limiting them to just the Morningside area. The volunteer fire chief says that he’s not afraid.

Back at the barbershop, local resident Marlon Kernahan thinks residents are the ones getting cheated.

"To have two engines, but no ambulance -- it really doesn't make any sense," he said.