Newtown debates over future of volunteer fire department

Christie Ileto Image
Thursday, October 27, 2016

NEWTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- Resident after resident made their case Wednesday night to keep the Newton Fire Association as their volunteer fire department.

At the heart of the issue, the township manager says it's more cost effective and efficient for the township to have its own volunteer fire department and work with neighbor agencies for coverage.

But the NFA claims it's more expensive to get a new volunteer fire department in place and response times would double in some areas of the township.

"Residents end up being safer. That also leads to the benefit of a long-term cost savings as we begin to look at this operation not just as individual communities, but as a region where we can share not only staff, but those expenses," Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson said.

"There will be less equipment, less available responders, and the response times will increase significantly," NFA Battalion Chief Zach Dunkelberger said.

Right now, the township has eight full-time firefighters and a chief,

The Newtown Fire Association covers calls when those guys are off the clock, including weekends and overnights.

At Wednesday night's meeting, the board and the NFA agreed to sit down and try to hatch this out before their contract expires next late next year.