Friday, July 9, 2021

Pottstown Patience Thin on W. Pottsgrove Fire Issue

The West End Fire Company in Stowe is facing a list of operational challenges, including losing the confidence of West Pottsgrove Township officials.

It's been more than six months since the borough was contacted by West Pottsgrove Township officials about a formal arrangement for fire protection.

As has been reported previously, the West End Fire Company, which is the official fire protection for the township, has experienced, shall we say, some operational difficulties. 

But after six months, and a recent meeting at which officials decided to set up a committee to further look at the issue, Pottstown's patience is wearing thin, as was evidenced Wednesday during council's work session.

Borough Manager Justin Keller told council an 18-month agreement to provide fire services to West Pottsgrove has been drawn up and delivered to township officials, "which West Pottsgrove has not acted upon."

The latest public action by township officials was a well-attended meeting last month at which, after a shower of commentary in support of the West End Fire Company, the commissioners announced a committee would be formed to see if a way forward could be found.

Last month, West Pottsgrove Township officials,
in the foreground, held a three-hour meeting about
the continued viability of the West End Fire Company.
In the meantime, Pottstown firefighters have been answering calls in West Pottsgrove, said Keller.

"In the past several months have seen more calls for Pottstown Borough to West Pottsgrove while leaving Pottstown taxpayers on the hook," Keller said. "This is going on seven months now where are are, sometimes, the first people to arrive at fires in West Pottsgrove."

Some of the data Keller and Pottstown Fire Chief Frank Hand have shared with West Pottsgrove Township officials include calls "where West Pottsgrove doesn't show up at all," Keller said.

"They're not a very busy department," said Hand. "Last year we did about 1,100 calls they had 70."

"Now, we're doing 24/7 on every call," Hand said. In the wake of last month's meeting, Hand said of the West Pottsgrove Commissioners "I don't want to say they backed down, but they softened their approach a little bit." 

"I won't say its a cavalier attitude, but they don't seem to want to move anything forward," observed Council Vice President Don Lebedynsky.

"We've been helping out for six months. But at some point, you have to re-assess," said Lebedynsky.

"It does get to a point where at some point, this should be formalized. Otherwise, our residents are paying for their fire protection," Keller said.

"We have to offer protection, but at some point we have to ask what's fair to our taxpayers and our firefighters," said Council President Dan Weand.

Click here to read the Tweets from Wednesday's council work session. 

4 comments:

  1. I think it's time to merge the Pottsgroves with Pottstown. Everything, police, fire, schools, government, everything.

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    Replies
    1. When Pottstown floated the idea of joining the two school districts about five years ago, the head of Pottsgrove's school board said something akin to "over my dead body." I agree with you, but it will never happen.

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  2. Just curious since the manager is worried about payment for fire services whether that money is going to go towards additional staffing or raises for the Pottstown Paid firefighters who handle the majority of the calls?

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