Bill Shick, Ottsville volunteer fire chief, provided an extensive update on the consolidation of fire and rescue services over seven municipalities at the recent Tinicum Township suprvisors’ meeting.
A new corporation, Palisades Regional Fire and Rescue Service, will end individual department charters with an official changeover scheduled for August following the state attorney general’s review of bi-laws and financials.
This move, first reported by the Herald last February, has been driven by a 2016 Pennsylvania Senate Resolution Committee report exploring Pennsylvania’s fire services. The study found a dramatic drop in volunteers – from 300,000 in 1986 to 35,000 on 2018.
“Volunteer services are dying,” Chief Shick stated. “We had to determine how to preserve essential services across the region. There were not enough firefighters to fill our army of trucks.”
The consolidation plan will cover all of Durham Township, all of Riegelsville Borough as well as large portions of Tinicum Springfield, Haycock, Bedminster and Nockamixon Townships, The newly-regionalized footprint will cover 130 square miles, the largest in Bucks County.
This model allows for an increased level of services, with trucks and personnel from one fire station able to “backfill” another when they are on call or their capacity is stretched. “Nothing will change when 911 is called, except there may be more equipment available.”
The chief cited that the state and county had asked for this change, and he is very excited about the marked increased in morale, fundraising and training.
Operations will be headquartered in Ottsville, with the corporation based in Nockamixon. Operating on a three-year term, Riegelsville Fire Chief Todd Meyers will become the fire commissioner across all seven municipalities and a political liaison as well.