Future objectives for local emergency services

By on February 13, 2019

By Laura Knowles

The future of fire services in the Warwick area were explored at the Feb. 6 meeting of the Warwick Township supervisors.

Duane Ober, administrator for WESC (Warwick Emergency Services Commission), outlined the eight objectives that emergency services in the Warwick Township, Lititz Borough and Elizabeth Township may be looking at in coming years.

“The main objective is a desire to maintain volunteer fire companies for as long as possible,” said Ober.

The objectives were a result of an emergency services study done by consultant Rob Brady, formerly of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

One of the main issues was to consider the possibility of merging emergency services in the Warwick area, which would include fire and ambulance services in Warwick Township, Lititz Borough and Elizabeth Township. There are two fire companies in Warwick Township, Brunnerville Fire Company and Rothsville Fire Company. Elizabeth Township has the Brickerville Fire Company.

According to Ober, merging fire companies is not well received among emergency providers, but most agree that sharing equipment and services is a viable option. WESC already coordinates purchasing programs and other cooperative efforts.

Some of the resistance to mergers is that the fire companies have their own long-held community traditions. Three of the four fire halls have been recently renovated and remodeled to better serve their communities.

Warwick Township Manager Daniel Zimmerman reported on plans to renovate the Warwick Township municipal campus, which has five buildings, several sports fields and the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail. He is suggesting that the township hire RLPS Architects to analyze the needs of the township in areas that would include HVAC system updates, roof repairs and computer records efficiency.

The study also showed that the four fire companies are well situated within the area, so that communities are well served by the locations. That is another reason why mergers might not work well, since accessibility might be hindered.

To reach the eight objectives, Brady interviewed the volunteer firefighters and leaders from each fire company, as well as staff from the local ambulances. He also interviewed elected and municipal officials from the Warwick area, police department officials, and business leaders from the community. His report was initially presented at a WESC meeting, and has been presented to Lititz Borough. Elizabeth Township will also have a presentation on the study.

The first objective of the eight objectives include Appointing a Fire Rescue Commissioner who would serve as overall leader and coordinator between the four fire companies.

The second objective is to Strengthen Commission to Accomplish Goals, in functioning as the fire and emergency services system for the region. The third goal is to Create Region-Wide Administrative Committees to handle community relations, recruitment and retention. The fourth objective is to Create Region-Wide Operating Committees to handle fire, rescue, EMS and training operations.

Duane Ober, administrator for Warwick Emergency Services Commission, outlined future objectives in the Warwick Township, Lititz Borough and Elizabeth Township areas.

The fifth objective is to Hire and Appoint Emergency and Services Specialist to assist the fire rescue commissioner. The sixth objective is to adopt an Apparatus and Maintenance Replacement Plan. The seventh objective is to Develop Station Needs and Renovation Plans that would maintain all four stations. The eighth objective relates to Creating and Implementing a Daytime Staffing Plan.

Ober pointed out that the current fire company leadership tends to be older and the WESC plan would help to transition to new leadership in the future. The Brunnerville Fire Company has had a promising increase in junior fire fighters, but efforts need to be made to not only recruit new, younger members, but to retain them until they are old enough to be fire fighters and to be a part of future leadership.

Supervisors chairperson Logan Myers suggested a Fire Emergency Services Day as a joint fundraising project that would raise money for the four fire companies under one umbrella. There could be a special event, such as a parade, to raise awareness. He noted that the Lancaster County Extraordinary Give does an exceptional job of raising funds for a wide variety of programs.

In other business, township manager Daniel Zimmerman reported on plans to renovate the Warwick Township municipal campus, which has five buildings, several sports fields and the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail. He is suggesting that the township hire RLPS Architects to analyze the needs of the township in areas that would include HVAC system updates, roof repairs and computer records efficiency. Supervisor Michael Vigunas questioned cost of the study.

Supervisors approved the Make A Wish 30th annual event on May 12.

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to The Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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