York Area United Fire & Rescue Chief (PA) Robert McCoy shared his experiences in overseeing a regional department that stems from the merger of the Spring Garden Township and Springettsbury Township fire departments, reports the Standard Speaker.
McCoy shared simple advice for any local departments that are considering consolidation: Put public safety before monetary concerns and be prepared for a long, drawn-out consolidation process.
“I fully, truly believe in the concept of regionalization and the concept of shared services as long as the safety of residents comes first,” McCoy said.
His audience included fire personnel from Hazleton, West Hazleton, McAdoo and Tresckow, as well as Hazle, Foster and Wright townships.
McCoy spent nearly 90 minutes talking about the consolidation process, which began for York Area’s department in 2003 and continued until it “went live” five years later.
That initiative began when communities around York City began a push to “capitalize on cooperation” and established an ad hoc committee that explored sharing fire service. Leaders in Spring Garden Township and Springettsbury Township were each operating their own fire departments in an area that totals roughly 23 square miles and serves nearly 36,000 people.
McCoy, however, cautioned that communities shouldn’t consider consolidation for the sake of saving money. That process likely won’t result in immediate savings, he said.
Savings, he said, stem from bulk purchasing and capital purchases that would cost a regional department less than it would for neighboring communities to make duplicate purchases.
The York Area merger, McCoy said, is considered Pennsylvania’s first consolidated career and volunteer department.
Member communities turned all emergency service responsibilities over to the regional department, which is recognized as an intergovernmental agency capable of applying for its own grants.
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