Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Hanover, Sassamansville fire companies ordered to merge


Over the objections of Sassamansville Fire Company volunteers, the township supervisors approved a plan to merge the township’s two fire companies.

Both the New Hanover and Sassamansville fire companies will still operate at their separate stations, but there will be one set of officers.
“This has been a long time coming. We feel this is the best way to unify the two fire companies — they will work together just like they did with the standard operating guidelines,” said Supervisor Martin Dyas. “It’s worked with other townships. We are responsible for how the township’s’ money is spent. We had this recommendation and we are moving forward with it.”In 2010, New Hanover obtained a grant to hire a consultant to conduct a fire services assessment. This assessment led to 21 recommendations by VFIS Consultants, in order for the fire system to operate efficiently. The two fire companies have been working together on 20 of the 21 recommendations.

One of their recommendations, to have a single set of standard operating guidelines for both fire companies, has already been adopted.

Bruce L. Baldwin, of Baldwin Associates, spoke on behalf of Sassamansville Fire Chief Ray Strickland and the active members of Sassamansville Fire Company.“The merging works well on paper, but not so well in reality,” Baldwin said. “Both companies serve fundamentally different areas. Many volunteers would probably go to other companies. It’s a question of the communities they serve — Bally, Bechtelsville, Pennsburg, etc. — that’s the reason they (the volunteers) are in it.

”Nearly a dozen Sassamansville Fire Company volunteers were present at Monday’s meeting and many did not hesitate to express their feelings to the supervisors.

“We’ve had people resign over this. We’ve had people not show up because of this,” Strickland said. “We’ll work together without the merger. This has caused a great divide between the two companies. Mergers can be a good thing, in this instance — it’s not.”

There was also support for the merger.“The New Hanover Fire Company is 100 percent behind it. The mind set seems to be us versus them, but it should be we,” said New Hanover Fire Chief Phil Agliano.

The supervisors emphasized the desire for unification — neither side should experience loss. The resolution was approved at a vote of 5-0, and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

Fire Companies Ordered to Merge

It's nice to get a mention in the paper, but we wish they had gotten our name right. Oh, well. It's still nice to be mentioned.

Wolf, Baldwin & Associates

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