When Laurel’s new fire chief isn’t working 24-hour shifts as a firefighter in Baltimore, he will be enhancing Laurel’s volunteer fire department through drills, training and education, he said.
The Laurel fire department elected Chief Duane Hull, 26, and Deputy Chief Darrin Grant, 49, in January, and the pair said they plan to emphasize training and expanding the department, as well familiarizing members with a newly purchased ambulance.
Hull, a Laurel resident who began volunteering with the department in 2006, said the leadership role appealed to him as a way he could help improve and prioritize the department.
“I just wanted to focus the department on our basic services we provide,” he said. “That’s our primary goal right now — that we’re providing a service level the citizens deserve.”
Grant, 49, of Laurel is a fire safety inspector for the state and has spent almost 12 years with the Laurel fire department, he said. Grant said he worked closely with Hull in the past and the new chief is motivated and well-equipped for someone his age.
“[Duane Hull] is very well educated, very well trained,” Grant said. “Working with him will be a great opportunity. He’s a very good leader. It makes working underneath him very enjoyable.”
Both men were nominated by fellow firefighters and chosen during the department’s annual elections on Jan 13. At that time, the station’s former chief, Trey Kelso, moved on to become a trustee on the department’s board of directors.
The Laurel volunteer fire department is made up of about 100 volunteer firefighters and paid career firefighters staffed by the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, Hull said. Some volunteers are career firefighters by day, but many have unrelated jobs such as engineering or information technology, Hull said.
“We have a very diverse fire station,” he said. “Some people might say [career firefighters make better volunteers], but I disagree. It’s all how seriously people want to take it. You can be a really great firefighter and still be an accountant.”
Hull said the department responded to around 5,300 calls last year.
Laurel resident Kenneth Nketsiah saw the work of the fire department firsthand when three townhouses on his street caught fire in January.
Nketsiah said he was home when firefighters from Laurel and surrounding municipalities rushed to the scene.
“[The department] is very fast at responding,” he said. “... I think they did a good job.”
The Laurel volunteer fire department also provides emergency medical services and recently purchased a new ambulance, which will add to the fleet of three fire engines, an ambulance and a ladder truck, Hull said.
Mark Brady, a spokesperson for the county fire/EMS department, said the county is excited to work with Hull and Grant in their new roles.
“We look forward to working with them as we do with all the volunteer leadership throughout the county,” Brady said. “[The Laurel Volunteer Fire Department] is a very good department with a wide diversity of membership and they do a tremendous job day in and day out.”