Dispute Erupts Between Md. Dept., County Over Toner

A dispute has erupted between Montgomery County and the Glen Echo Fire Department, but it's not over firefighting equipment or budget cuts, this dispute is about toner.

When the department's fax machine ran out of toner, volunteer Fire Chief Herbert Leusch was denied after asking the county-paid station commander to replace it, according to The Washington Examiner.

Instead, the county offered to buy the department a brand new machine.

The county maintains the fax machines it owns, but the one at the firehouse was paid for by the department's board of directors.

"[The county] is having taxpayers spend the money to buy a brand new fax machine when there is a perfectly good one sitting in the station just because they are not willing to pay for an ink cartridge," Leusch wrote in an email to the County Council last week. "We are now going to have two fax machines at Station 11, one owned by the (volunteer fire department), and one owned by the county."

Eric Bernard, executive director of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, said that the dispute is the result of a two-year transition from having the county's 19 volunteer departments manage their own finances to having the county mange it for them.

Staring for fiscal year 2013 -- which begins July 1 -- the county will pay for all equipment and other supplies necessary for firefighters to do their jobs.

The county was not willing to pay for the toner, however, because it deemed it wasn't necessary for daily operations.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Graham told the newspaper that he personally handled the dispute by buying the $30 toner cartridge for the department, but also warned them that it would be the last time.