The effort to merge three fire companies serving the Boyertown area came to fruition on July 1 when the new Boyertown Area Fire & Rescue began operations.
BAF&R brings together the Friendship Hook & Ladder and Keystone Steam #1 companies, both located in Boyertown, and the Liberty Fire Company of New Berlinville.
According to Jeff Bealer, the department’s public information officer, the three companies have been working together for several years to combine their firefighting operations. The resulting BAF&R will serve the borough along with Colebrookdale and Douglass townships.
Bealer said merging the companies will address a number of problems the groups have faced, including a lack of volunteers. “They [the groups] were all competing for volunteers, and by combining them together, everybody gets to use the same resources,” he said.
“We are trying to make sure we have one, strong and efficient department that can take care of the entire area,” Bealer said.
Friendship Fire Chief Chuck Neubauer said consolidation of the three companies -- all within a mile of each other -- only makes sense. “We are competing for the same people and the same dollars, not only against each other, but with all the non-profit organizations,” he said.
The approximately 100-member all-volunteer fire department will continue to be funded by donations, fundraisers and each of the municipalities it serves. Each of the companies will continue to operate its social quarters in support of the new department.
On June 29, apparatus and fire gear of BAF&R members was moved to its new location at either the Warwick Street station or the North Reading Avenue station and the fire police operations as well as apparatus that will be sold were moved to the Walnut Street station in preparation for the July 1 live operation date.
Dave Shainline, a member BAF&R’s steering committee and the fire marshal for Colebrookdale Township, will serve as the new department’s fire chief.