Why Bensalem Twp. is consolidating 6 volunteer fire companies under one entity

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Why Bensalem is consolidating 6 fire companies under one entity
Why Bensalem Twp. is consolidating 6 volunteer fire companies under one entity

BENSALEM TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- After two years of planning, six independent volunteer fire companies in Bensalem Township are set to consolidate into one fire company.

"It will be one fire department, one set of standard operating procedures, one executive board and one leadership team," said Public Safety Director Williams McVey.

Trevose, Cornwells, Eddington, Union, Newport and Nottingham fire stations will now be known as the singular Bensalem Volunteer Fire Department. New chiefs and administration officials were sworn in Monday night at a special meeting, where commissioners gave their unanimous approval.

Officials say consolidation was necessary for many reasons, chief among them -- manpower.

"The decline of personnel within each of our organizations has certainly been our biggest challenge to overcome," said Andrew Hazlett, who is now president of the BVFD.

BVFD Deputy Fire Chief Ron Harris says the number of volunteers has dwindled locally and across the state. He said in the 1970s, Pennsylvania had more than 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today that number is about 30,000.

"Failure to not consolidate would result in a catastrophic incident involving destruction of property, and at worst case, a loss of life," McVey said.

McVey said volunteers will still work out of the existing buildings and, over time, new signage and branding will appear on trucks and buildings. Officials also believe response times will improve.

"They'll be able to pull all those resources together to ensure that they can get fire trucks out with properly trained personnel in those trucks," McVey said.

Twenty-year-old Aiden Goodson joined the Trevose Volunteer Fire Department in Bensalem last year following in the footsteps of his uncle and grandfather. It's a common story of volunteers at any one of the now formerly independent fire companies.

Goodson said many have pride in their service that spans generations to a particular fire company but have come together to better the township.

Even with this reorganization, Goodson says the mission remains the same.

"Nothing else is different about the guys coming to save you on your worst day. They're all still eager to help with whatever they can, in the best way they can," Goodson said.

The consolation is effective at 12 a.m. Tuesday.

The status of Bensalem's full-time, paid firefighters is not affected.