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Craig B. Harman, Odenton Volunteer Fire Company, MSFA Gladhill-Thompson Award
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By Member John Long, Jr.
June 26, 2018

Odenton Volunteer Fire Company
Maryland State Firemen’s Association Gladhill-Thompson Award

Craig B. Harman was awarded the Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) Gladhill - Thompson Trophy for 2018 on June 19, 2018.

Craig joined the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company (OVFC) on November 14, 1972. During his tenure of over 45 years with the OVFC, he has fulfilled many roles, including apparatus driver, line officer, and various administrative positions. He served as company President from 1996 to 1998 and from 2000 to 2001. While not actively participating in an emergency response role today, Craig continues to support the company in many other ways. He currently serves on the Board of Directors, is active in fundraising events, coordinates building maintenance projects, and is very active in future planning activities. Craig's strong leadership capabilities have been an asset to the OVFC and we are proud that he has remained active for his entire volunteer service career.

Craig has also amassed an outstanding record of support to the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association (AACVFA). He served as Treasurer from 1998 to 2004 and as President from 2007 to 2009. Craig stepped up as President in 2007 due to the sudden illness and death of President Jack Gouty. He not only filled Jack's seat in an acting capacity from 2007 to 2008, but also ensured that the Association kept moving forward and was not drawn down by the sadness of the loss of a sitting President. Craig developed an excellent working relationship with the Anne Arundel County Fire Chief and was able to negotiate several items to help the volunteer fire service. Craig is currently serving the Association again as Treasurer.

Craig led a working group to revise the Volunteer Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) legislation in Anne Arundel County. These changes were directed at providing an increased benefit payment to participating volunteers while modifying the point system to ensure that active service credit is given based on an acceptable level of participation. His committee coordinated with the County Fire Chief, Finance Office, Law Office, and members of the County Council on this project. In January 2017, the County Council and County Executive approved the new LOSAP legislation reflecting the importance of retaining active volunteers. This is a win-win for all parties: the County benefits from the continued participation of volunteer firefighters, and the volunteers are properly rewarded for their many years of service.

Craig’s contributions to the volunteer fire service in Anne Arundel County have been recognized by his induction in the AACVFA Hall of Fame in 2010, selected as the AACVFA Individual of the Year in 2017, and recognized as the 2017 Volunteer Firefighter Unsung Hero by the One Hundred Club of Anne Arundel County.

Craig has also expanded his volunteer fire service support by being appointed in 2009 as Anne Arundel County's representative on the MSFA Volunteer Company Assistance Fund (VCAF) Committee. As a member of the VCAF Committee, he advises companies on the application requirements for the MSFA low interest loan program and serves as an advocate for Anne Arundel County fire companies seeking support from the VCAF program. When the OVFC applied for VCAF funds in 2010 for the purchase of a new pumper, Craig led the development of our application package which set a model for other fire departments in Maryland to follow.
In 2013, Craig moved up to be the Chairman of the VCAF Committee. When Craig accepted this position, VCAF was suffering from an antiquated process that was so difficult that many companies were choosing higher interest bank loans over the low interest options of the VCAF. The loan program was sitting with a large balance of funds available and no member companies were applying for loans from the program. Craig quickly used his organizational and leadership skills to develop new marketing programs for VCAF and met with the Maryland Military Department (MD) to develop new procedures to streamline the loan process. Craig’s leadership has brought significant change to the VCAF program and made the loan process a true benefit that is attractive to the MSFA membership. For his contributions to improving the VCAF program, Craig was inducted in the MSFA Hall of Fame in 2014 and received the Robert H. Shimer Administrative Person of the Year Award from MFSA in 2017.

Craig is now the vice chair of the VCAF committee, but nonetheless is a very key member. He has been instrumental in marketing VCAF to MSFA member companies, meeting with company leadership to educate them on loan and grant eligibility, assisting company representatives with completing the application process, and ensuring that the application is submitted in accordance with MSFA guidelines and the Maryland Code. Craig also serves as the systems administrator for the VCAF online application program. He developed the online application and continues to improve it based on customer feedback. He assigns the completed online applications to the VCAF committee members for review and comment prior to the committee meeting. This process is then repeated for the MSFA Executive Committee to prepare them for their meeting and vote on approving the VCAF applications.

Craig recently automated the settlement process, which is now in the beta stage. Company representatives are now able to use an online process that guides them through each step of the MD settlement process. The “settlement application” enables the representatives to upload required documents to the online application and then forward the package to the MD for review. Craig also drafted legislative changes to the Maryland Code, PUBLIC SAFETY, TITLE 8 - FIRE AND RESCUE FUNDS, Subtitle 2 - Volunteer Company Assistance Fund to provide clarifications, updates, and expand features such as progress payments for facility loans. The MSFA Executive committee authorized pursuit of the Code enhancements and Craig drafted corresponding MSFA bylaw changes in anticipation of the legislative changes.

Lastly, Craig briefed MSFA leadership on the state of VCAF funding and gained their support to pursue additional funding for VCAF. The VCAF committee’s work over the past four years has resulted in the award of $21M in loans and $1.6M in grants. This success has reduced VCAF from a balance of over $18M in 2014 to just $4M in February 2018.

Craig has dutifully served the interests of the OVFC and the fire service in Anne Arundel County and across the State of Maryland for over 45 years. He serves as a role model and mentor for each person that he meets.

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