Sassamansville Fire Company seeks funding and recognition

The fate of the Sassamansville Fire Company has yet to be determined.

Sassamansville Fire Chief Ray Strickland attended the New Hanover Township Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, June 10, to request funding for and re-recognition of Sassamansville Fire Company.

Sassamansville Fire Company currently has no means to purchase equipment on their own and has not received funding in 2013, according to Bruce L. Baldwin, of Baldwin Associates, who spoke on the behalf of Chief Strickland.

“We are requesting a response from township. We are concerned for the safety and morale of the firefighters. Sassamansville firefighters continue to make calls, however they are not always utilized,” said Baldwin, noting that some of the fire company’s equipment is approaching the 10 year lifespan.

According to Strickland, once equipment reaches 10-years-old, that equipment is done and can no longer be used; it creates a liability issue is anything happens.

Baldwin continued to state that the supervisors had requested a relief budget of urgent needs from Strickland in April; a budget of $44,000 was submitted to the supervisors on May 13.

“We have done everything that the board has asked. We want to fight fires safely and we want re-recognition,” said Strickland. “The budget that was submitted was all for safety equipment. It is a pressing need right now.”

In November 2012, the supervisors adopted Resolution 26-12 to recognize New Hanover Fire Company as the official and exclusive volunteer fire company of New Hanover Township and to authorize Sassamansville Fire Company to respond as a mutual aid provider.

Re-recognition would allow Sassamansville to continue firefighting and make them eligible to apply for FEMA grants.

“I’m wondering out loud why there are needs,” said Supervisor Brown, noting that $94,000 was spent by the Fire Company last year.

“We anticipated funding, which was stopped and sent us into a tail spin,” said Strickland.

“Have you submitted this to New Hanover ? We put a procedure in place,” said Paul A. Bauer, referring to the fact that New Hanover is the recognized Fire Company in the township.

Vice Chairman Doug Muller stated that the request to allocate funds should go to the Emergency Services Board

On Monday, May 13, the supervisors adopted the Ordinance creating the Emergency Service Board, which has been comprised of one representative from each voting district in the township, one supervisor and a representative from both fire companies and the police department. The members of the board were approved on Monday, June 10.

The supervisors expressed concern over the fact that the Emergency Services Board is newly established and details such as meeting dates have yet to be determined.

Muller instructed Strickland to make the budget request to New Hanover Fire Company. The request would then be brought to the Emergency Services Board so that they can make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.

That course of action requires the Emergency Services Board to meet before the next meeting of the supervisors in July.

Bauer agreed to send Strickland’s budget to New Hanover Police Chief Phil Agliano, therefore Agliano will be able to present the request to the supervisorswhether or not the Emergency Services Board is able to meet in time. The next meeting of the New Hanover Board of Supervisors is scheduled for Monday, July 8, at 6:30 p.m.

Muller stated that this will be an important topic which will need a recommendation in a timely manner.

According to Strickland, he is optimistic to get things done. There are currently 22 active members on the roster of Sassamansville Fire Company and they are still fighting fires.

Chairman Martin Dyas had an emergency during the meeting and left prior to adjournment.

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