Ordinance aims to boost Chambersburg fire protection

May 27, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.-An ordinance governing the Emergency Services Department that was approved last week by the Chambersburg Borough Council gives the OK for the hiring of up to six more paid firefighters over the next few years.

And a new agreement that also was signed at Monday's meeting with the Franklin Volunteer Fire Co. will result in a borough fire engine being moved from the Franklin Street fire station to the McKinley Street station.

At its April 23 meeting, the council was split 6-4 on whether the proposed ordinance should go forward. Some council members raised objections to provisions in the ordinance that state the emergency services chief and assistant chief shall not be civil service employees and that the chief report directly to the borough manager.

At last week's meeting, however, only Councilwoman Sharon Bigler voted against the ordinance.

Chambersburg has not had an emergency services chief since John Vanlandingham resigned in November 2005. Assistant Chief William Dubbs has been acting in that capacity.


The ordinance allows the borough to raise the number of paid firefighters from 18 to 24, not including the chief and assistant chief. The 2007 budget includes money for three more firefighters, and Borough Manager Eric Oyer said in April that three more are expected to be added in the 2009 budget.

The ordinance also defines the department as being a combined department of paid and volunteer firefighters, and set requirements for department membership as determined by the chief and borough manager. Volunteers would have to be members of the five chartered volunteer fire companies in the borough, according to the ordinance.

In addition to the chief and assistant chief, the ordinance allows the department to have up to three captains and three lieutenants, as well as fire apparatus drivers and emergency medical technicians.

The new agreement with the Franklin Volunteer Fire Co. was approved unanimously by the council.

"The best deployment for the apparatus and associated manpower was to put them at the McKinley Street station," Council President William McLaughlin said. The engine had been at the Franklin Street station for years "because of the existence of the railroad tracks," he said.

The at-grade crossings in the borough had required equipment to be deployed so that no part of town would be isolated should a train come through during a fire. The crossings were removed several years ago.

Putting the engine at the McKinley Street station gives the department better coverage for the borough's South End, McLaughlin said.

McKinley Street has been staffed completely by volunteers, McLaughlin said, and having the engine and paid personnel there could help in recruiting volunteers and improving response time.

The 10-year agreement with the Franklin Volunteer Fire Co. goes into effect June 1. Franklin Fire Chief Mark Trace said the engine remains at the station for the time being.

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