This topic is Community Matters at its best. I received an email yesterday with an attached Suburban and Wayne Times newspaper article dated Thursday, July 15, 1971. A reader was cleaning out his attic and came across this article and forwarded it on to me. No comment or request to post on Community Matters . . . he just thought I might find it of interest. The title of the article is, “Volunteer Firemen’s Financing is Critical”. (A link to the article at the end of this post.)
The article is based on local volunteer fire companies along the Main Line and Valley Forge, including Radnor, Berwyn and Paoli. What is both fascinating (and sad) at the same time is the plea for the volunteer firefighters funding in 1971 is exactly the same as in 2010. The tone of the article begs that more support needs be offered by the municipalities served. In discussing firefighter funding, a fire chief is quoted in the article as saying, “It has to be done on a municipality basis. It’s the township’s or borough’s responsibility to provide protection for persons and property. . . . They don’t take the responsibility . . . The volunteers do it.”
In 1970, Tredyffrin supervisors allocated $15,750 to the Berwyn fire company. Forty years ago, the Berwyn Fire Company had a deficit $1,632, due to lack of volunteer firefighter support. With populations exploding on the Main Line and aging equipment in 1971, all the fire companies were appealing to the local governments for adequate funding. There was agreement among the various fire companies, that greater support was required from the service areas. Here’s a fascinating 40-year old quote, when talking about residents, fire chiefs observed, “Many encounter surprise from new residents that the fire company isn’t a municipal service. Some persons have never even heard of a volunteer fire company, particularly those from metropolitan areas.” I am guessing that our local fire companies still encounter the same kind of remarks in 2010!
There is discussion in the article as to “What can residents do to back the volunteer fire companies”? The response was “Join!”. In 1971, the yearly dues were $1 for the Valley Forge company, $2 in East and West Whiteland, $5 per family in Berwyn and $12 per family in Paoli (which included family and ambulance service).
This post should be more than simply a walk down memory lane. It needs to be a wake-up call to the supervisors and residents. Although I have posted that Paul Olson called and told me that his solicitation committee (which included him, Lamina and Kampf) have made good on the cardboard check they presented to the Berwyn Fire Company in December, . . . there has been no official statement from the Board of Supervisors on the subject. If you recall, the cardboard check of $23,200 represented the amount the supervisors removed from the fire companies in the 2010 budget. Guess my question is where do we stand on the 2011 budget process . . . will the fire companies see their total budget reinstated? And if the township reinstate the contribution to the fire companies in the 2011 budget, what will the supervisors cut from the budget to make that happen?
We are in to the 2nd quarter of the year; has the Finance Committee begun working on the 2011 draft budget? I’m thinking that there are associated winter costs (snow removal, stormwater problems, repair of potholes, etc.) that could be considerably higher than was forecasted for in the 2010 budget. The 2011 budget process needs to be underway or there is going to be major problems come November. With the loss of Dave Brill as the township finance director, I am assuming that the supervisors need to take a very active role in the economic forecasting.
Here is a link to the 1971 newspaper article, if you would like to read it in its entirety. Funding of our fire companies is an important issue and a topic that needs to remain at the top of our priority list. Comments from the readers . . . ?