Lititz Fire Company needs more public support, says chief

By on November 30, 2016

Next ladder truck will cost $1.8 million

The Lititz Fire Company ladder truck was a key part of the multi-department response to last week’s fire in Rothsville. (photo by Kirk Neidermyer)

The Lititz Fire Company ladder truck was a key part of the multi-department response to last week’s fire in Rothsville. (photo by Kirk Neidermyer)

While Fire & Ice was a hot topic at Tuesday’s Lititz Borough Council meeting, Ron Oettel was there to focus solely on fire — more specifically the future of the Lititz Fire Company.

Oettel, Lititz’s fire chief, presented a 25-year plan that would take the fire company from 2017 through 2042. The plan focused on apparatus replacement during the next quarter century, and projected costs are daunting.

“A new ladder truck, which will need to be replaced in 2028, will cost $1.8 million,” he said.

The apparatus plan will need to cover repair costs, advancements in technology, and recommendations from the National Fire Protection Association that fire equipment is removed from front line service after 15 years of use.

“The Lititz Fire Company’s goal is to have the engine replaced after 15 to 17 years, the rescue vehicle replaced after 17 to 19 years, the ladder truck after 22 to 25 years, the utility vehicle after 25 years, and the command vehicles after 12 years,” said Oettel.

Currently, the fire company has a utility vehicle, a ladder truck, a rescue vehicle, a fire engine and three command vehicles. The oldest vehicle is the utility vehicle, which dates back to 1996. The newest is the command vehicle from 2016. The ladder truck was purchased in 2005 with a major fundraising campaign in the Lititz area.

The schedule for vehicle replacement over the next 25 years will be the fire engine and command vehicle in 2020, the utility vehicle in 2021, the rescue vehicle and command vehicle in 2024, the ladder truck and command vehicle in 2028, command vehicle ion 2032, engine and command vehicle in 2036, command vehicle in 2040, and rescue vehicle in 2042.

The Lititz Fire Company will be relying on funding reserves of $500,000 from the fire company, $300,000 from Lititz Borough, and $275,000 from Warwick Township.

Proposed annual contributions starting in 2017 will be $25,000 from the fire company and $43,500 each from Lititz Borough and Warwick Township. The Warwick Township contribution would be an increase from past years.

With the growth in the township, more businesses and residences will be served by the Lititz Fire Company, along with services from the Brunnerville Fire Company and the Rothsville Fire Company.

A recent fire in Rothsville last Friday (see photos on page A5 of this week’s Record Express) required response from numerous fire companies in the area. Lititz Fire Company had 13 volunteers at the fire from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Oettel reported that the Lititz Fire Company has responded to 337 calls in 2016 so far, and in November there were 41 fire calls. On average, 12 volunteers respond to each fire call.

While Oettel is pleased with the dedication of volunteer firefighters and contributions from the local municipalities, there is one area where help is desperately needed.

“The community donations used to be 53 percent. Now it’s just 22 percent,” he said. “We need to get that up so that the fire company can stay viable.”

As he pointed out, the fire that displaced 10 people in Rothsville could happen anywhere and anytime.

“We need people to support the Lititz Fire Company so we can serve them in case we are ever needed,” he said. “We need donations from the public.”

For more information on the Lititz Fire Company and how you can contribute to this volunteer organization, visit www.lititzfire.org.

Laura Knowles is a local freelance reporter who covers the Lititz Borough municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes reader feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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