Whitemarsh’s Response to Right-to-Know Requests Involving New Fire Services Plan

As we mentioned in a previous article, MoreThanTheCurve.com requested through the “right to know” process documents involved in the decision making process to create a new fire services plan for Whitemarsh Township. The Board of Supervisors voted on December 1st to adopt the change to its ordinanceTwo requests were submitted. One involved the agendas and minutes for the Emergency Services Board, an advisory body that consists of representatives of the township, public, each fire company, the ambulance service and police department. The second request involved any agendas, minutes, notes or correspondence involved outside this board that related to the new fire services plan.

We received the agendas and minutes from 2016 for the Emergency Services Board. This board is an advisory board (meaning the Board of Supervisors does not have to accept its recommendations) that is tasked with overseeing the emergency services in the township and making recommendations on how they can be improved. We sought these agendas and meetings for two reasons.

The first was to make sure that the claim by the Lincoln Fire Company that its members did not know about the creation of the new fire services plan was a true statement. Since the Fire Services Board was the natural body to recommend and create a new fire services plan, and Lincoln Fire Company has two seats on this board, was Lincoln Fire Company simply not attending the meetings? The minutes show at least one member of Lincoln Fire Company was at each meeting. There was also not one mention of a new fire services plan on an agenda or within the minutes of any of the meetings. This means that the new fire services plan was created outside of the Emergency Services Board and Lincoln Fire Company did not know about it. You can download and review these documents by clicking here.

Our request for documents regarding the creation of the new fire services plan, outside of the Emergency Services Board, was denied. According to the letter we received it was denied because “no such records exist.” There isn’t one email between all the parties involved scheduling a meeting to discuss it? There isn’t an email with earlier drafts being sent among those involved? There isn’t one email with anyone involved offering his or her opinion on the new fire services plan? You can download and review this letter by clicking here.

So what does the public think? Let us know in the comments.