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Attracting Volunteer Firefighters a Lower Makefield Township Priority - Newtown Also Faces Same Problem

Attracting Volunteer Firefighters a Lower Makefield Township Priority - Newtown Also Faces Same Problem | Newtown News of Interest | Scoop.it

The picture continues to be bleak when it comes to attracting and retaining volunteer firefighters, Yardley-Makefield Fire Company Deputy Chief Tim Chamberlain told the Lower Makefield Township supervisors at their Sept. 14 meeting.

 

Chamberlain said the number of active volunteer firefighters at YMFC – meaning those who respond to at least 25 percent of calls – has fallen from 34 to 31 in the last year. The average age of those active volunteers continues to trend upward as family and work obligations and other issues are holding down the number of younger volunteers, he added.

 

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped either. Chamberlain said four firefighters stopped responding to calls after March of 2020 because they feared contracting the virus on a call and bringing it home.

 

Of the 18 new volunteers accepted into membership since January of 2017, eight have already resigned because of lack of time or changes in their personal lives, the deputy chief noted.

 

“The fire service is suffering, just like businesses who cannot find help,” Chamberlain said. “I wouldn’t want it to get to a point where a fire truck can’t get out to an emergency.”

 

Problems at Yardley-Makefield reflect a trend in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and the United States, officials at the meeting said.

 

“We need to start talking about what we can do to address these shortfalls,” township Manager Kurt Ferguson said. “There’s no one, single answer.”

 

Supervisor John Lewis suggested that perhaps the township could help the fire company develop a comprehensive marketing plan to attract more members.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

It's a problem for Newtown Township/Borough. The volunteer Newtown Fire Association (NFA) needs more financial help so that it can compensate volunteers especially for manning the fire station during the weekend when Newtown Township paid firefighters are not on duty. 

 

The township and borough need weekend coverage. There are plans to hire more paid firefighters to cover the weekend. The township has applied for SAFER grants to cover the first 3 years expense, but has not won those grants. Meanwhile, the 2021 budget cut back the funding of the NFA by $15,000 to $160,000! The 2022 budget may include more funds in a last ditch effort to help recruit and maintain volunteers.

 

For more on that, be sure to attend the Meet Mack Monday Zoom meeting on October 18, 2021, at 5 PM. 

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Newtown News of Interest
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