OCEAN CITY – Town officials and the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company (OCVFC) came to an official agreement over the town’s fire services this week, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that officially names former OCVFC Chief Chris Larmore the town’s first fire chief.
The high points of the MOU were hashed out this spring as the town, the OCFVC and career paramedic/firefighters struggled to reach a consensus on the future of the town’s fire services. Although emotions ran high during several discussions before the Mayor and City Council, one thing remained clear; the town needed one fire chief to unite the paid and volunteer firefighters.
After a two-day retreat in April that focused on the future of the town’s fire services with the input of OCVFC members, career EMS/firefighters, town residents and area fire chiefs, a consensus was reached, with the ultimate decision to appoint Larmore as fire chief.
“The Town of Ocean City hereby appoints and Chief Larmore hereby accepts the position of fire chief, at the nominal consideration of $1 per year or part thereof, with full administrative and operational authority as set forth below over the Career Paramedics/Firefighters of the Fire/EMS Division, the Fire Marshal and the OCVFC,” reads the MOU.
From the beginning, Larmore made it clear that he had no interest in getting paid for the job, with his interests focused on securing the town’s combination fire services.
With the agreement to take on the role of fire chief for the town, Larmore was forced to step down from his current post as OCVFC fire chief. Larmore confirmed Monday that the resignation would be finalized this week, as he takes on his new task as the town’s fire chief.
With the appointment of Larmore come a few changes within the town’s emergency services.
“The Director of Emergency Services [currently Joe Theobald] will relinquish all authority to manage, administer, or supervise the Fire/EMS Division to the Captain of the Fire/EMS Division,” reads the MOU.
The MOU also places the career paramedics/firefighter division, as well as the fire marshal’s office and the OCVFC under the control of Larmore. The career paramedics/firefighter division is to answer directly to the captain of the Fire/EMS division who in turn answers to Larmore. Likewise, the fire marshal’s office and the OCVFC will answer to Larmore.
“Chief Larmore will report directly to the Mayor and City Council on all matters relating to the discharge of this authority. Otherwise, on the day to day operation of the Fire/EMS Division and the Fire Marshal, Chief Larmore will report to the Mayor and City Council through the City Manager,” it reads.
The MOU, while placing the OCFVC under the umbrella of Larmore, still reserves the longstanding right for the OCVFC to communicate directly with the Mayor and City Council.
Earlier this year, the OCVFC stated it would be leaving the town, after a stalemate was reached between the volunteers and town officials. “Upon the execution of this MOU, the Officers and Board of Directors of OCVFC will request that the membership rescind its motion to relocate from Ocean City,” states the MOU.
The signing of the MOU also marks the official start of Larmore’s job as the town’s fire chief. The MOU calls for Larmore to remain chief until one of the following occurs; a voluntary resignation by Larmore, a majority vote by the council to relieve him of his duties, an affirmative vote from the Board of Directors of the OCVFC to end the MOU, or the hiring of a full time, salaried chief.
Until then, Larmore will take on the long-awaited role of the town’s first fire chief and begin work towards a true, combination fire service in Ocean City.
The council voted unanimously to accept the MOU, which will go into affect this week after its official signing.