The day Rushern Baker was sworn in as new Prince George's County Executive, he made numerous changes in leadership, including bringing in a retired fire fighter and Bowie native to serve as acting fire chief.
Marc Bashoor introduced himself to the City Council at its meeting on Monday. The Bowie native's family was one of the original Levitt home owners, and his father was the minister at the Calvary Baptist Church on Millstream Drive and a mailman for 30 years.
Councilmember Diane Polangin told him she remembered seeing him with his mother and brother sitting in the front row at the ,church where she still worships.
Bashoor lived in Tulip Grove, Meadowbrook, Rockledge, Idlewile, and Enfield Chase neighborhoods in Bowie in the past. Now he’s back in Bowie in the Buckingham section with no plans of leaving any time soon.
Bashoor started his firefighting career in Bowie with the volunteer fire department in 1981, and worked his way up the ranks as a career firefighter, before retiring in 2004. Late last year, with the election of new Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Bashoor was asked to come back to serve as the fire chief.
“I certainly hope that he will send my name down for confirmation, that’s the premise that I’m taking,” he said.
Bashoor said there’s been a decline in volunteer firefighers throughout the county, and that there are some areas that are making do.
“Bowie has had it’s good times and bad times, right now they’re holding their own, but they’re hurting just like everybody else," Bashoor told the council.
Working with Baker, Bashoor told the council, the department will have an aggressive and ongoing restructuring and that—with 94 current vacancies—staffing will be a top priority, though money presents a challenge.
“We are stretched thin, I’m not going to paint a picture of anything but that,” he said. “The budget is what it is.
With 94 trainees coming into the program with three classes starting between the end of February and May, the vacancies will be filled; however, Bashoor says that the department needs a minimum of 1200 staff to run effectively. There are currently 765 fire fighters in the county.
“I don’t anticipate any trouble getting that number raised, it’s the problem of finding the money to hire the people in the outgoing fiscal years,” he said. “We will have to be very delicate about we find that.”
As the acting chief made his final remarks, Mayor G. Fred Robinson told him, “There are three issues in Bowie relating to the fire department. Staffing, staffing, and staffing.”
“I’m sorry, what was that issue again?” Bashoor joked in response.