WASHINGTON COUNTY, MARYLAND

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

PUBLIC SAFETY

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


ANIMAL CONTROL

The Board of County Commissioners contracts for animal control services through private agencies. These services include enforcing the County's animal code, picking up strays, inspecting kennels and pet stores, and prosecuting cases of animal cruelty and neglect. Adoptions of impounded animals also are conducted under this ordinance (Animal Control Ordinance for Washington County).


DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

The Division of Emergency Management began as Washington County Civil Defense authorized by the Maryland Civil Defense Act of 1949 (Chapter 563, Acts of 1949). It was renamed the Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness Agency in 1981, became the Emergency Management and Civil Defense Agency in 1984, and the Emergency Management Agency in 1993. In October 2020, the Emergency Management Agency was separated from the Division of Emergency Services, and became the Division of Emergency Management.

During emergencies, the Division assists and coordinates federal, State, and volunteer responders to best respond to natural and man-made disasters. The Division also advises the Board of County Commissioners on grants and resources available to meet Division and community needs in preparation or response to emergencies.

Appointed by the Governor, the Manager of the Division of Emergency Management develops the County's hazard mitigation plan. Through the plan, the Division analyzes threats, and works with other agencies to devise response strategies for severe or frequent threats in accordance with the National Incident Management System.

DIVISION OF EMERGENCY SERVICES

The Division of Emergency Services oversees the Department of Emergency Communications. Assisting the Division in its duties is the Emergency Services Advisory Council.

DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
Duties of the Department of Emergency Communications began as Central Alarm in 1974, when the first centralized call facility was authorized. Housed in the County Office Building in Hagerstown, Central Alarm allowed County residents to call a single phone number for any emergency, and redirected calls to the appropriate responders. In May 1984, the emergency phone number changed to 911, and Central Alarm offices were expanded to meet projected demand. In 2000, Central Alarm was renamed Fire and Rescue Communications, which reorganized in 2009 as the Department of Emergency Communications to oversee the Emergency Communications Center.

The Emergency Communications Center was created in July 2009 through consolidation of emergency dispatch centers in Washington County to more efficiently respond to emergency calls. Formed originally from Fire and Rescue Communications, response centers of the Sheriff’s Office and county volunteer responders, the Center absorbed control centers for the Hagerstown Police Department, and Fire and Emergency Services in January 2010. County call centers for the State Police transferred services to the Emergency Communications Center in September 2010.

The Department of Emergency Communications oversees two divisions: Administration, and Operations.


FIRE MARSHAL

For the Western Region of Maryland (Allegany, Garrett & Washington counties), the Deputy State Fire Marshal serves as an assistant to the State Fire Marshal, and investigates and enforces laws regarding arson, fire prevention, the installation and maintenance of fire detection and extinguisher equipment, the availability and adequacy of fire exits at public and commercial establishments, and the storage, sale or use of explosives and combustibles (Code Public Safety Article, sec. 6-305).

The Deputy State Fire Marshal is appointed by the State Fire Marshal (Code Public Safety Article, sec. 6-303), and aided by the Fire and Rescue Communications Advisory Board.

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