After several months of revising and updating the county’s volunteer firefighter/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) standards policy, County Commissioners will finally consider approving the latest ordinance at Thursday’s regular Commission meeting after a public hearing about the policy.
County Emergency Services Director Paul Quairoli and volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel have worked tirelessly this past year to get County Ordinance 16-03 up to par and up to County Commissioner’s standards.
Over the past couple of months there have been items that have been brought forward as to how Otero County lets the volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel know what the expectations are to serve the citizens, their departments and the County.
The Otero County Fire Fighters Association has also had several meetings to discuss the policy and given comments and recommendations along with county staff. There has additionally been several public hearings and work sessions to discuss and makes changes to the ordinance.
The standards policy has been a hot button issue with volunteers for several years and they are ready to approve it along with commissioners.
Some volunteers argued that the standards policy that has been drafted numerous times was too constricting and they felt they were being micromanaged. For not being paid employees, they believed the standards policy went against what they were trying to do, volunteer their time.
Some volunteers, however, supported the standards policy and said they should approve it right away because they understood the need for rules and regulations.
County Attorney Lisa Jenkins and Commissioners said their intention with the policy was not to micromanage volunteers but so it could be used for protection against future lawsuits and liability.
In the last public hearing in June in the Village of Cloudcroft, Commissioner Ronny Rardin said the policy is not set in stone and it could always be changed if something doesn’t work out.
As a result of these conversations, a policy has been drafted and is ready to be presented to commissioners.
Rardin said he was ready to approve it at the next meeting.
The next regular Otero County Commission meeting is Thursday, Aug. 11, at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building, 1101 N New York Ave.
To view a copy of the latest standards policy, visit the county’s website online at http://co.otero.nm.us/ and click “Commission Meeting Agendas.”