Firefighter shortage in Oley Township leading to missed calls

OLEY — A shortage of volunteer firefighters in Oley is forcing the company to miss calls for emergency services.

Fire Chief Todd Kegerise told township supervisors at their April 9 meeting that the company’s lack of volunteers during daytime hours resulted in several missed calls in March.

Kegerise said the shortage also lead him to inform other local fire companies that Oley will no longer serve as a “safety company,” meaning they will not provide firefighter rescue service to those companies.

“We’ve been evaluating our services and due to our limited manpower, I sent a letter to local fire companies to remove our services as a safety company,” Kegerise said.

Kegerise said that along with a lack of volunteers, his concerns about the level of training for his current crew lead him to the decision. “As much as we don’t want to admit our faults, we are admitting we need assistance and better training for our members,” he said.

Safety companies, or rapid intervention teams, monitor a fire scene and are brought into action in the event a firefighter becomes trapped or endangered. Kegerise said that while he oversees an experienced crew of volunteers, their current training was inadequate to continue to provide the service.

“Knowing what it takes to go in and remove a firefighter, that’s where we evaluated ourselves and felt we weren’t up to that level. It’s a very difficult job and we can do it, but I don’t feel we can do it comfortably. You are going to risk lives by sending an untrained crew in.”

Kegerise said the company was currently focusing on recruiting new members and providing additional training. “We have a very aggressive training schedule this year, and are going back to the basics, including driver training. After many years, you forget the basics,” he said.

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the fire company should contact Kegerise at 610-987-6363 or OleyFire@OleyFire5.com.