The station's decision to go all volunteer between 3 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends stems from the Prince George's County Fire Department's new union contract, signed earlier this year.
The contract does away with current staffing levels at some stations. Currently, some stations—including 39 until Sunday—have four career firefighters that work from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Prior to the new contract, two of those firefighters would stay on for a 24-hour shift. By the end of the year, those shifts will be done away with in favor of higher staffing levels with the contract now requiring four career firefighters to work the 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
As a result of the new contract, the station made the decision with PGFD to go all volunteer on nights and weekends, showing a deep commitment to the community is serves, said PGFD spokesperson Mark Brady.
"I think it's a huge commitment and a great sense of pride in that station that they be able to handle the calls for service their area," Brady said.
Station 39 is working to recruit new volunteers to keep numbers strong and even be able to increase services in the future, according to its website.
BVFD station 19—Old Bowie—has long had four career firefighters working round the clock, and those staffing levels will not change, Brady said. BVFD station 43—Pointer Ridge—had similar staffing levels to Belair, but earlier this year career staffing increased so there are now four career firefighters working in that station 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Fire station 816 in Bowie, Northridge, is a career station.
Brady thinks 39 will make a successful all-volunteer station.
"I think the number of volunteers Bowie can generate will surprise everyone and I think they will do a tremendous job providing service to everyone," Brady said.
For more information about volunteering at BVFD, click here or stop by any of the stations.