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Latest News: Howard County Officially Recognizes “Firefighters” Over “Firemen”

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Code will soon be updated to officially recognize the term “firefighters,” replacing the word “firemen” in all instances. The change is the result of the County Council’s unanimous approval last night of Bill No. 10-2018 (CB-10.)  The bill was introduced at the request of County Executive Allan H. Kittleman and Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services (HCDFRS) Chief John S. Butler and will become effective in early May.

Additionally, an official name change was made to “Howard County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association, Inc” (HCVFA).  The previous language read “Firemen’s,” and was last updated in 1998. 

“I spend a lot of time with our first responders and the term ‘firemen’ is viewed by many both inside and outside the department as outdated,” said Kittleman.  “It simply does not reflect the makeup of our County’s evolving, diverse, and inclusive public safety sector and our combination fire department.”

“While the term ‘firemen’ may have been acceptable at one time in our industry, we are striving to be a more inclusive and diverse Fire and EMS department,” said Butler.  “Updating the name in the County Code is progress but this does not change the culture of our department.  It is up to our firefighters and EMS responders do that.  At the end of the day, it is a simple word change, but a change that sends a clear, meaningful, and powerful message.  I'd like to sincerely thank the County Council and County Executive for supporting us with this effort.”

A record number of women and culturally diverse trainees comprised last year’s HCDFRS academy class.  Additionally, the department supports the St. Florian’s Brigade, a non-profit fire service organization.  Each summer, St. Florian’s Brigade hosts the “First Alarm Girls Fire Camp,” a summer camp promoting fire service awareness for school-aged young people who are interested in learning about what it takes to become a firefighter.     

“I applaud the vision of inclusiveness this County and Department continue to show,” said St. Florian’s Brigade President Christine Uhlhorn.  “Their support for our efforts of encouraging involvement in the fire service continue to make a positive difference.” 

 “We worked hard for this change over the past few years,” said Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department President Julie Casey.  “The modern fire service has room for everyone and this County recognizes that.”

 For more information please contact the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services Office of Community Outreach and Media Affairs, 410-313-6039. 


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