Muncy Fire Companies vote to regionalize Pennsdale votes out
MUNCY – Muncy Creek Township and Muncy Borough fire departments agreed to regionalize, but Pennsdale Fire Department with Muncy Township voted against it according to Chief Corey Palmatier.
Muncy Township supervisor, Thomas Schaech, said the decision to not regionalize was “ill-advised” due to lack of new revenues. “They are not looking at the big picture,” he said.
Muncy Township firefighters gathered at their Pennsdale headquarters last Monday and voted 22-11 to discontinue plans to regionalize.
Regionalization committee Chairman Dwight “Butch” Dauberman said planning to merge Muncy Borough’s Keystone Hook and Ladder Co. and Clarkstown’s Muncy Creek Township department will be ongoing, as members of both of the stations agreed to further explore pulling together as one entity.
Dauberman, a former Pennsdale fire chief, admitted he’s unhappy with the vote at the Muncy Township department where he’s a lifetime member.
“I’m disappointed in the vote in Pennsdale, but I wish them the best,” he said. “I’m going to spend my time with the group that wants to regionalize.”
Palmatier said he personally voted to continue the regionalization process.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “I don’t agree with the way our company voted. However, it is a company decision and I do wish Muncy Creek and Muncy Borough the best in their venture.”
The service of the Muncy Township fire department will continue to be available to the other two stations if they need extra mutual aid emergency assistance, according to Palmatier.
No exact figures were provided, but Palmatier said firefighters who turned down the opportunity to regionalize were mostly concerned with the potential loss of assets.
He said company buildings and land were considered in the asset calculations.
Some of the Pennsdale firefighters indicated they are interested in continuing to learn more about area regionalization.
Regionalization planners expect to meet June 28, and Dauberman said he expects members of Muncy Borough Council and Muncy Creek Township supervisors to vote on regionalization as early as next month.
Dauberman said pursuing grants with the assistance of state Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, will continue, although the allocations haven’t been secured yet.
Over 30 Keystone Hook and Ladder firefighters unanimously voted to regionalize, said department Chief Jamie Brelsford.
In a separate company vote, Brelsford said only one firefighter voted against regionalizing with only Muncy Creek Township.
Brelsford said he’s excited to continue the process, but disappointed Muncy Township isn’t involving itself.
Drawing from a manpower pool of three fire stations within one school district made sense to Brelsford, who said fire companies are challenged to find volunteers as federal and state training mandates are more stringent than they used to be.
Regionalization is especially helpful, according to Brelsford, who said it helps eliminate the duplication of services and equipment.
Muncy Creek Township fire Chief Greg Delany agreed, as he said sharing equipment and combining membership is crucial to department survival in an era of decreasing volunteerism.
There were at least 350,000 volunteer firefighters statewide over 30 years ago, according to Delany. There’s no more than 70,000 firefighters today, a state number he said continues to decline.
Delany, who said he personally welcomes the cost savings possible through regionalization, reported his station’s firefighters approved by a wide margin.
Fewer than 20 Clarkstown firefighters were present for the vote, which Delany said resulted in 15 members approving to regionalize.
Memorial being planned
The Pennsdale Volunteer Fire Company is beginning a fund drive to raise money to build a memorial to honor the deceased Charter, Active and Auxiliary members. The plan includes a park like setting with walkways and benches. There will be three flag poles that will display the American flag, the Pennsylvania flag and the Fire Department flag. The Fire Sirent will also be mounted on a pole and names of those who will be honored will be engraved on the granite and mounted on the monument. The Fire department is hoping to raise $15,000 for the project.