On Monday April 23rd Members of the three fire companies had their first joint consolidated fire company meeting. Below is from the former Atglen Fire Companies Website about the event We have highlighted major speaking points and facts.
On Monday evening April 23, 2012 at 1900 hours the Members of the Atglen, Parkesburg, and Pomeroy Fire Companies met at the Parkesburg Fire Company for the First joint Consolidated Fire Company Meeting. This meeting brought the 3 Companies together to hear a presentation from the Fire District Facilitator Russ Guthrie and Rob Brady from the Department of Community and Economic Development and choose a new Department name and discuss how the members wanted the new Administration to be set up. 71 members from the 3 Companies showed up to listen and to be heard, along with the new Fire Districts Chairperson and West Sadsbury Township supervisor Frank Haas.
Rob Brady spoke of the dwindling number of Volunteer Fire and EMS Personnel throughout the Commonwealth and how the number had decreased from 300,000 in 1974 to only 50,000 in 2010. He stated that the figures show by 2020 there will be “NO” Volunteers by 2020 unless more is done to help, like the consolidation that these 3 Fire Companies are doing. Russ and Rob also showed that the Municipalities involved; Parkesburg, Sadsbury, Highland and West Sadsbury are getting their Fire and EMS Services for approx. 34 cents on the dollar, so to put that into perspective that means that these Municipalities contribute approx. $177,000 to the 3 Fire Companies this includes Workers Comp. Insurance, and the 3 Fire Companies have to make up the rest of their combined budgets of over $400,000 in fund raisers. So, with that being said the average Firefighter and EMT spends almost 80% of his or her time raising money instead of Training or Fighting fires or Saving lives, hence the decline in volunteers here and throughout the Commonwealth.
After Rob and Russ gave their presentation trying to bring the members up to speed as to what has taken place so far, Tim Reynolds from Parkesburg Fire Company and a member of the new Departments By-laws committee spoke about where the committee was, and where they felt the Companies wanted them to go. The first order of business the Committee wanted the membership to decide, which needed to be done in order to obtain a new 501c3 was a Department name. A list of approx. 12 names was given to each member to vote on, from those 12, 2 top choices were determined, Iron Rails Fire Department and Keystone Valley Fire Department. The committee then had the membership vote on those 2 names and with a slim margin Keystone Valley was determined to become the new Department name. Pomeroy and Atlgen Fire Companies had previously voted in Company meetings for this name and Parkesburg will vote at their monthly company meeting in April. Once this name is officially accepted, it will help spur further movement in the development of the New District and Department, Charters can be applied for and all legal documentation and procedures can move forward without trouble now.
The other cause of concern for the By-laws committee was the Administrative structure, did the new department want to stay with the same structure we all run with now; President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasure and Trustees, or did the members want to go with a Board of Directors? This question was discussed with most members wanting a business model to be followed and a Board of Directors to be elected. With a show of hands the majority of the membership chose to follow a business model with a Board of Directors with 2 members from each station elected to serve on the Board.
This is the future of fire departments, like it or not. Consolidation is the way to go and you will continue to see more and more fire companies doing the same in the coming years. When the Atglen Borough Council decided to go with Christiana as it’s main source of fire protection, We still don’t think that they understood what impact this would have on residents. We realize that the Councils job is to work in the best interest of the people of Atglen, and we truly believe that they did that. But, we have to think that they did it blindly by trying dodge the fact that no matter whether it is Atglen Fire Co. or Christiana Fire Co. This is the future of fire protection. Just because you don’t see any benefit in it today doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow. The former AFC will be Atglen’s Fire Company once again. It may not be tomorrow or next year but it will happen. It’s just sad to say that it will probably cost the town of Atglen more money to accept it later than it would have to accept it now. The easy road was going to Christiana for a quick fix. That road will prove to be the wrong one in the future when almost all fire companies will be consolidating. The proof is in the facts.