Maryland Fire Company Loses Bid to be Reinstated

A volunteer fire company in Maryland lost its lawsuit to overturn a county’s decision to withdraw recognition and funding.

The Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co., now known as the Community Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. of District No. 12, filed suit last August seeking to challenge a January, 2013 decision by the Washington County Board of Commissioners to, in essence, cease its operations.

The suit alleged that the Board of Commissioners exceed its authority, violated the fire company’s due process rights, and was “arbitrary, capricious or illegal.” The board’s decision was based in part on Fairplay’s failure to respond to 24-26 percent on calls in the first five months of 2012.

Earlier this week Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald E. Beachley ruled against the fire company, noting that “no volunteer fire company may provide formally organized fire fighting services … unless it has been recognized and approved by the Washington County Board of County Commissioners and the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.”

Judge Beachley also ruled that the fire company failed to file the suit within 30 days of the board’s decision, as required by state law. Fairplay is currently contemplating an appeal. Here is some prior coverage of the dispute.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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