West Cocalico seeks to help fire companies thrive

By on March 13, 2019

In the March 7 West Cocalico supervisors meeting, the board sat down with local fire company members to try to figure out how to help the township’s two fire companies to thrive.

There wasn’t a round table — but members of the two fire companies filled the visitors’ seats and provided some feedback to the three-member board.

“This is kind of an open discussion,” said chairman James Stoner. “What can we do to help you guys out? I’d like to get some conversation going… some fire departments are really hurting. We want to be here to support both fire companies — both of them are an extremely valuable asset to the community.”

Board members asked fire companies if they’re having a problem getting and keeping members.

It’s a problem everywhere, fire company members said. However, they added, the local departments get some amount of volunteer attention via word-of-mouth.

Supervisors also addressed the cost of training in both time and money, and other challenges the departments face.

“It’s not like it was 50 years ago,” Stoner said, describing the dedication that it takes to be a firefighter. “Nobody wants to get involved anymore — you can’t be ‘half in.’”

In light of that, he said, he believes the township should be willing to step up and help fire companies to survive.

“We’d like to share in that cost,” Stoner said. “I’d like to see it as a volunteer company — it’s got to be one of our foremost objectives.”
Still, he said, it’s hard to make those investments without a concrete picture of budgeting and fiscal reality.

“I don’t know what I’m looking at until I see it,” Stoner said. “We don’t have a clue what the numbers are… it’s not an open checkbook. I don’t want to buy a fire truck… we have to budget (costs).”

Supervisors and fire company members discussed grant writing, as well as the possibility of raising funds through various fundraisers.
In the end, Stoner suggested that fire companies keep coming to supervisor meetings so that stakeholders can hash out these issues in a fully public arena, in full compliance with Pennsylvania state “sunshine” open records laws.

Elsewhere in the meeting, Stoner noted that in a regional leaders meeting weeks ago, West Cocalico and East Cocalico townships as well as Denver and Adamstown boroughs agreed to the framework of an intermunicipal agreement that would help public works departments assist each other in certain cases of emergencies.

The municipalities asking for assistance, Stoner said, would pay the rates at which a given public works department generally operates.
“It’s not a negotiated thing — it’s just simpler to keep it that way, and we all agreed to it,” he said. “We’re going to try it. We discussed this amongst us… we’re all pretty familiar with it.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the intermunicipal agreement.

Justin Stoltzfus is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review.

One Comment

  1. Sharon Susa

    March 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Website is very nice!

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