Pa. town mulls study of fire service as volunteers dwindle
The study will assess current fire service response, identify strengths, make comparisons to benchmarks and make suggestions for future fire service response
By Peg Quann
Bucks County Courier Times
MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Who responds to fire calls in suburban towns has become a more pressing issue in recent years as fewer people are volunteering for their local fire companies.
Middletown Manager Stephanie Teoli Kuhls told the township Board of Supervisors on Monday that she would like to include funds in the upcoming 2019 budget for a comprehensive fire study to address the problem.
"With all the issues we're dealing with (in) daytime fire response, with decreasing volunteerism," she said that having an analysis and recommendations for the long-term future of fire service in the township would be useful.
Teoli Kuhls proposed the study to see how the township can assist the four volunteer fire companies that serve the community — the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Co., which has two stations; the William Penn Fire Co., also with two stations; the Penndel Fire Co. and the Parkland Fire Co. The fire companies handled more than 1,000 calls this year, according to tallies on their websites.
"We are talking about a study that would look at all aspects of fire response and make recommendations for providing this service now and in the future. Our four volunteer fire departments would be heavily involved in the study — they are a great resource in our community," said Teoli Kuhls.
The study will assess current fire service response, identify strengths and weaknesses, make comparisons to benchmarks and ultimately make recommendations for future fire service response, she added.
"I cannot highlight enough that this will be done in concert with our four dedicated volunteer fire companies," she said.
State Rep. Frank Farry, R-142, of Langhorne, who is chief of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Co., had proposed House Bill 1673 to provide for some tax-deferred or other financial benefits for long-term active-duty volunteer firefighters to thank them for their service and offer an incentive to recruit volunteers. However, the bill was "removed from the table," of the House on Sept. 25.
Neither Farry nor other representatives of the four companies could be reached for comment Friday.
©2019 Bucks County Courier Times, Levittown, Pa.