What can be done to reestablish the fire cadet program?
To reestablish the Fire and Rescue Services/Emergency Medical Technician (fire cadet) program, the following steps would need to be taken:
- Program funding would need to be identified by the Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (MCDFRS) and/or Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to support the program as well as identification of funds to support the program through the federally-funded Carl D. Perkins Career and Technology Education Improvement Program grant.
- A collaborative partnership agreement between MCPS and the MCDFRS Training Academy would need to be developed.
- High schools interested in offering the program to students would need to be identified.
- A grant amendment to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to offer the program would need to be submitted and approved.
Background Information Related to Program Dissolution
When the fire cadet program was active, the majority of the budgetary responsibility for the program was owned by Montgomery County Government. Annual payments were provided by MCPS to the MCDFRS Training Academy in the amount of $17,411. This amount covered costs for items such as audio/visual materials and equipment, personal protective equipment, and physical and training certificates. Perkins grant funding provided for additional resource books and for translating the application from English into additional languages.
Funding from the local contribution in the MCPS budget and the Perkins grant only covered a fraction of the overall cost of the program. The National Fire Protection Association required a 5:1 student to instructor ratio for practical instruction and two additional instructors for safety precautions, funded by MCDFRS. In addition, the MCDFRS budget funded the equipment, supplies, training, and overtime for its staff members which was a majority of the cost of the program. MCDFRS and the County Council decided this was not sustainable in light of the county’s fiscal situation. The cost became a significant burden to the Training Academy as it also dealt with the challenge of staff shortages, rising costs, and the county’s growth. As a result, MCDFRS could no longer sustain the level of support it provided to the high school fire cadet program, which according to Training Academy staff increased to almost $80,000 at the time of its dissolution in 2013.