On Sunday, January 21, 2024 the Beltsville News was made aware that PG County Fire Chief, Tiffany Greene, intended to remove the paid staff that reside at the Beltsville Fire Department, Station 31, and move them to other stations. Following up on this tip, we along with Karen Coakley, reached out to our County Representatives for more information. We also posted the info we had on our Facebook Page asking you, the residents of Beltsville, to reach out and demand answers. You did and a meeting was scheduled with Chief Green and the public on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 (embedded below).
At this meeting, we were informed that the fire department was deemed uninhabitable for career staff at the station. According to the chief, this began with a single (and only as far as we can tell) complaint from a career firefighter. Because of this complaint, the station was inspected and deemed to be in such bad shape that the need to remove all career staff was critical. Yet, it wasn't so critical that they were allowing them to reside there until February 11, when they planned to have them reassigned. So, we ask how critical is it that you allow the staff to reside there over a month before moving them. Also, until it was pointed out, they kept referring to the career staff and saying nothing about the volunteers, that they never mentioned the volunteer firefighters needing to leave. This was the first time anyone in the community had heard about these "concerns" of the fire chief. If someone had not reached out to the Beltsville News, they would have quietly reassigned all the career staff and not told any of us. This is unacceptable.
Since that meeting, other things have come to light that we believe shows Chief Green is lying about the reasons for removing the career staff. First, we have a letter from the insurance company for the station that states an inspection happened on October 24 and 24, 2023 and that they "a walkthrough of the station located at 4911 Prince Georges Ave., Beltsville, MD. In my report there will be some recommendations for a few items noted during the walk through of the station and property. I can advise ahead of the report there are no issues our company would deem as a Critical item. A critical item in our book of business requires immediate action or plan of correction within 30 days." If the building was in such bad shape, why did the insurance company deem nothing critical?
Secondly, we have gotten our hands on the list of Capital Improvement Projects for the 2024 year. This is a document that lists 3 areas: critical need, immediate, and desired. Shockingly, station 31, which is uninhabitable at the moment is not on the list. It's nowhere to be seen. So, if the station was in such disrepair why didn't it warrant placement on this list Chief Green?
OK, so maybe they were on the list in years past and things were taken care of. Well, that brings us to our third point, we haven't been on the CIP projects for a long time. We were able to get a list of projects that were completed between 2014 and 2016 and the only thing Beltsville had completed were that the lights were fixed. We are still looking into more up to date info on this.
And then there is the response from the members of station 31 themselves to many of the issues raised. Some highlights for those that don't want to read the whole document:
Chief Green's office is claiming a new fully installed fire alarm system was put in place. According to the members of station 31 "the system was NOT fully replaced. The detectors/strobes were removed by the heads to replace the ceiling tiles. No pre-existing boxes and/or system wires were removed or replaced."
Chief Green's office said there were no fire extinguishers in the building. Now this seems hard to believe that a fire station had no fire extinguishers on site. Members of station 31 informed them that "All extra/non-used fire extinguishers were put in the technicians room, which is maintained by the PGFD Technician assigned to station 31."
Chief Green's office complained about the the stairs in the back of the building weren't clear of snow because there is no awning over them. Station 31 reminded them that "shoveling the rear bunkroom steps falls on the career staff as they are in the bunkroom adjacent to the steps 7 days a week, 365 days a year." Station 31 also offered to look into installing an awning.
Chief Green's office was concerned about station security because there are 2 doors in the rear of the engine bay that are not locked. Station 31 pointed out "This was an agreement between Career Captain, VFD Chief Adams, and PGFD Battalion Chief 6 in 2018 to place the DEF where it sits now so that units could drive up/next to the door and access the DEF at any time. Beltsville VFD prefers this door to be locked with a keypad for entry if necessary and the DEF be relocated under the staircase out back by the fuel pumps." So, Chief Green's people are complaining about a deal her people asked to have. Station 31 agreed to it even though they didn't agree with it.
There are many more questions and responses like these in the document linked above. Most of them point to Chief Green's office fabricating problems or ignoring them when they have been brought to their attention.
We implore you to continue to call and write to your elected officials, the county executive and Chief Green herself. They can not continue this charade, they are putting the lives of Beltsville Residents in danger. MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD!!!
Contact information for all your elected officials.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks
Council Chairperson Jolene Ivey
Councilmember Tom Dernoga
At Large Member Calvin Hawkins
At Large Member Mel Franklin
Fire Chief Tiffany Green