Funding Pulled for Town's Volunteer Fire Department
Tuesday the Berlin (Maryland) Mayor and town council announced it will be pulling $600,000.00 in funding for the local volunteer fire department, amid allegations of workplace harassment to the town's emergency medical personnel. While the fire department's attorney, Joe Moore, denies that the allegations resulted in the removal of the funding, Mayor Gee Williams said, "Over time, a culture of intolerance and ignorance has been allowed to gain a place in the operation of the fire company and we're not going to be part of it." While the mayor provided many violations of the 2009 agreement, the key issue seemed to center around the workplace harassment issues.
The fire department, through attorney Joe Moore, takes a different perspective. He said the issues centers around who controls the work and activities of the emergency medical professionals. He said, "The sole matter of disagreement is related to who will control the operations and scheduling matters for Emergency Medical Service for the town of Berlin, and we did not accede that control to them."
The paramedics themselves, say that they are experiencing sexual orientation, racial, and sexual harassment from the other paramedics and volunteer fire department. The agreement is part of a restructuring that where the paramedics were leased to the town so that they could receive state retirement. Further conflicts arose during confusion over the town managing the paramedics and the fire department.
Moore said the fire company had dealt with the allegations and had required all of its members to take sensitivity training. He said that was done even though the town had never provided any written report on its investigation into the matter.
"The town of Berlin has consistently and repeatedly refused to show the fire company the results of the alleged investigation of the matter," he said.
According to the Berlin, Maryland government website, "Fire protection is provided to Berlin and the surrounding area by the Berlin Fire Company, an independent entity."