A township program in Upper Makefield that grants stipends to local volunteer firefighters who protect the municipality is continuing to gain steam.
On Sept. 18, the township’s Board of Supervisors approved a grant of $17,110 to the Upper Makefield Fire Company, a volunteer-run-and-operated nonprofit organization.
Company leaders will use the money to pay stipends to firefighter-volunteers based on their participation rates in emergency calls and training exercises during the second quarter of 2018.
“Supervisors are fully behind providing this support to the fire company,” said Township Manager Dave Nyman.
The board budgeted $95,000 this year in funds that can be granted to pay the stipends. The township’s payments occur quarterly.
The per-quarter stipend allotment can vary depending on how many firefighters are participating in calls and drills, and how frequently they are doing so. Earlier this year, for example, supervisors approved granting $12,730 to the fire company to be allocated to firefighters based on their service during the first quarter.
The stipends aim to be a modicum of compensation for the time and expense the volunteers put into responding and drilling. They cost a fraction of what it would cost the township to pay for a full-time department of paid firefighters.
Officials have also hoped that the stipends will help recruit and retain new members, and increase turnout on calls.
Launched this year, the program’s preliminary results indicate that it’s having some positive impact helping achieve the stated goals.
While encouraged by that, fire officials have said they’d like to get at least a year’s worth of comparative data on things like call turnout to make a more informed pronouncement on the efficacy of the program and its potential viability to bolster the department over the long haul.
“So far, the stipend program is having a positive effect,” Fire Company President Bart Krauss has said.