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Budget Cuts Coming To Montgomery County Fire Department

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The County Council has the final say on what gets funding and what doesn't, so members are hearing the final sales pitches from any and all who receive county money.

Thursday it was the Fire Department, which is seeing a relatively small cut of less than 2 percent to its budget.

Fire Chief Richard BowersFire Chief Richard Bowers has a simple philosophy when it comes to this year's budget.

"We have to get people what's needed, not what's wanted," he says.

Bowers is reluctantly OK with the elimination of a program that teaches high school juniors and seniors skills to become firefighters and EMTs. But he is fighting a plan to turn over more building fire code inspections to other county departments.

Council Vice President Roger Berliner supports the move, saying many businesses complain the Fire Department does not make inspections easy.

"They're perspective was, that if they wanted timely service, they had to pay overtime to get it. Now, it may not be true stories. I don't know why they would share them. But it wasn't just one or two," Berliner says.

Bowers countered that such inspections have led to a drop in deaths from fires in the county, with just one in each of the past two years.

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