Montgomery County Council staff members are at the county Fire Rescue Training Academy in Rockville. Fully suited, with self-contained breathing gear, they enter a smoke-filled room to get a taste of the skills and equipment firefighters need to preserve property and save lives.
Lisa Mandel-Trupp is chief of staff for Council Member Phil Andrews. With county budgets under strict review, Mandel-Trupp says it's important everyone on his staff understands what Fire and Rescue personnel are up against.
"Nobody's looking to cut a budget to make the fire service not serve what they need to serve...We need to maintain what we have, we need to replace apparatus when it's due, we need to keep the firefighters safe...even in the face of budget cuts," she says.
"As we go into the budget season it helps us in our dialogue with the council, with the council staffers, to understand where we are," says Assistant Fire Chief Scott Graham.
County officials project a $300 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year.