During last night’s special meeting of the Whitemarsh Township’s Board of Supervisors the board voted to advertise a change to its ordinance covering fire services in the township. The change would include its new plan for fire services and that it would no longer contract and fund the Lincoln Fire Company. This would effectively close the fire company.
During the meeting, the fire chiefs of the Spring Mill Fire Company and the Barren Hill Fire Company presented the new plan (download new plan) to divide the portion of the township that has been covered by the Lincoln Fire Company between them. The township is going to keep the same budget for fire and emergency services, however, the money that would usually go to the Lincoln Fire Company would be placed into a special account that the two remaining fire companies could seek funding from. These additional funds would require the approval of the Board of Supervisors.
What was extremely odd about the whole thing is that there was never an explanation on how this new plan is better and why Lincoln Fire Company couldn’t play a role in any new plan. It was just here is the plan and Lincoln isn’t part of it. Was Lincoln Fire Company not performing its duties to the desired level? Why is closing a fire company in the township and further relying on mutual aid from fire companies from other municipalities a better plan than improving whatever deficiencies are thought to exist at the Lincoln Fire Company?
Whether its a good or bad plan isn’t the main issue. The new plan was developed without any input from Lincoln Fire Company. They didn’t even know it existed until they were told in a 15 minute meeting about a week ago that this was the direction the township was taking.
During the public comment section of the meeting members of the public expressed support for Lincoln Fire Company and criticized the Township Supervisors for wanting to close the a fire company. Members of the fire company expressed a desire to continue serving the township at the Lincoln Fire Company, but due to how this was handled, but if Lincoln is forced to close, they would likely volunteer at fire companies outside of Whitemarsh Township. No one spoke in favor of the plan, except for those involved in creating it.
And lets just say it, it was handled horribly wrong. Not allowing Lincoln Fire Company to have a voice in deciding its future was just stupid (can’t figure out a way to say it any other way). It disregards and devalues the input of dozens of volunteers who have served the township. If Lincoln had been consulted and allowed input during the process, the members might not have liked the outcome, but they couldn’t say they were ignored.
We are going to explore this issue more, because it just doesn’t make any sense. When we say it doesn’t make any sense, we are not talking about the plan to no longer contract with and fund the Lincoln Fire Company (that may make complete sense). We are talking about the process that generated the decision.
FYI, technically the decision hasn’t been made. The township is now advertising the proposed change to the ordinance. A vote hasn’t been taken. The vote is scheduled for December. 1st. We will publish the agenda once it is released.
More to come.