Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Lafayette Study: Better Communication Needed Among Bethlehem Tp Firefighters, Comm'rs
As Woglom explained in great detail, the level of cooperation between the two fire companies, and with the Commissioners, needs to improve. He suggested monthly meetings between the two fire chiefs, a fire relations committee made up of Commissioners and firefighters, a shared inventory, standardized guidelines at both volunteer companies, as well as monthly joint training that would include members of both departments.
Woglom called Nancy Run and BTVFC "two halves of a whole, not two separate entities." But, noting that the two fire companies are very different, Woglom stopped short of recommending a consolidation. BTVFC, for example, has a very active and financially successful EMS service. In addition, Woglom pointed out that both departments respond to more calls than any other fire departments in the County, even though the annual municipal contributions are among the lowest. Last year, the Township contributed $130,000 to Nancy Run Fire Co., and $295,778 to BYVFC.
Commissioners and volunteer firefighters both welcomed and intend to implement Woglom's report. Tom Nolan commended Woglom for an "excellent job." Martin Zawarski noted that "fire companies can still retain autonomy, but they can see how working together will help both."
Noting that Bethlehem Township's EMS has done a "terrific financial job," Woglom suggested that Commissioners might want to reduce its contribution if the EMS remains successful. "I'm not trying to suggest that they be penalized for being successful," Woglom stressed.
After the meeting, President Paul Weiss indicated that Woglom's specific recommendations will be considered when Commissioners review next year's budget. But he dismissed any suggestion of consolidation. "At the end of the day, if it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said.
Firefighters were happy with the report, too.
"The communication with everybody needs to improve," acknowledged BYVFC Fire Chief Dave Stapinski. Assistant Fire Chief Ron Ford likes the idea of joint training with Nancy Run. "There's always room for improvement," he said.
Bethlehem Townhip Commissioners will meet again on Monday, November 5, 7 PM, at the Municipal Building, located at 4225 Easton Avenue.