A consolidation of two emergency services committees will include more members of the public than fire and ambulance professionals following a vote Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
The board voted 3-1 that the makeup of a new Emergency Services Advisory Council should be three members of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and six members of the public.
A county commissioner would also serve on the council, and the director of emergency services and president of the fire and rescue association would be ex-officio, or non-voting, members.
Commission President Terry Baker voted against the measure. Commissioner Jeffrey Cline was recovering from hip replacement surgery and was not present.
Commissioners William McKinley, John Barr and Ruth Anne Callaham voted in favor of the motion.
Baker said he voted against the motion because he wanted to see “more parity” between professional and citizen membership.
“I wanted to see at least ... a minimum of four come from the fire and rescue association,” Baker said after the vote.
“I wanted to have a strong citizen voice on the committee,” McKinley said. “I also believe, with three members of the association, plus the director of Emergency Services, there will be a very strong professional voice” on the committee, he said.
Last fall the commissioners directed Director of Emergency Services Kevin Lewis and Fire and Rescue Association President Dale Hill to look into consolidating the Emergency Services Advisory Council and the Fire and Rescue Advisory Committee.
At that time, the board discussed how the county could provide better oversight of fire and rescue service; consolidating the council and committee; and changing the changing the makeup of the council that adivses the county on fire and rescue services.
“For historical purposes, it has always been a 50-50 split,” Hill told the commissioners of the council’s composition.
After the meeting, Hill said citizen membership is important, but he would have preferred to see more representation by fire and ambulance professionals.
Asked when the new council will be formed, McKinley said after the meeting that Lewis and Hill will first have to come up with a list of prospective members and develop new bylaws.