It wasn’t until then that Fairplay officials heard from the county how bad the response rate was, he said.
The company responded by hiring a paid staffer, who started Monday, the day before the commissioners decided to suspend Fairplay’s operations.
Fairplay’s failure to respond to calls also was an issue in 2009, when the county commissioners gave the fire company an ultimatum — accept a paid staffer during daytime hours or face funding cuts and possibly decertification.
The Herald-Mailreported at the time that the fire company agreed to accept the county staffer.
But Moncrief said he doesn’t think that arrangement lasted long.
The recent hiring of a paid staffer was at the fire company’s expense, Hill said.
Other local volunteer companies also have turned to paid help.
Four years ago, The First Hose Co. of Boonsboro received a grant to hire a paid driver, Chief Oley Griffith said.
The grant covered 100 percent of the costs the first year, 75 percent the next, 50 percent the next and 25 percent in the fourth year.
This year, with the grant finished, Boonsboro decided to keep paying for the driver on its own. Griffith said the hours have changed, though — from five 12-hour days to six 10-hour days.
In Fairplay’s absence, Boonsboro, Williamsport, Sharpsburg and Funkstown are expected to fill the gap.
Those companies have been responding to Fairplay calls under a “dual dispatch” system the past few months, fire officials said.
Boonsboro will do more as long as it’s needed, Griffith said, adding about Fairplay, “I hope they get back on their feet.”