Share This Page

Mt. Pleasant Township firemen ask for financial help

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Mt. Pleasant Township firefighters Tuesday asked the public for help. Firefighters would like residents to support their idea for an annual fee that would help fund fire stations.

Their message Tuesday night — fire service is dangerous and “safety is not free.”

More than 50 people attended the meeting at Norvelt Fire Department.

Township firefighters, part of the Mt. Pleasant Township Emergency Services Association, want the township to consider a levy of a 1-mill or 1.5-mills, which would be split evenly among the fire departments.

A levy of 1-mill would generate $96,000.

Eleven municipalities in Westmoreland County impose similar levies, often called “fire equipment and firehouse” taxes.

Don Hill, chief of the township's Trauger station, has said the goal of the fee is to improve fire equipment and fire stations, as well as to offer fire training.

Mt. Pleasant Township firefighters have said that interest in volunteer fire department fundraisers has waned in the poor economy, while costs for fire engines and other equipment have exploded.

The township is home to five volunteer fire departments: Calumet, Hecla, Kecksburg, Norvelt and Trauger.

Township supervisors would have to vote on the levy, and Hill said he hopes that they'll consider it.

Kim Houser, a Greensburg-based attorney and a volunteer firefighter, showed at the meeting a presentation about the costs of firefighting.

“You have old equipment,” Houser said. “Unfortunately, these guys need to get some assistance by asking for a fire tax. I don't know how else to get around it. They already do donations. … Folks, you need to have new fire engines somehow. Obviously the amount of money that is being allocated right now is not working.”

A fire engine costs $375,000, plus a $15,000 fire hose. Battling a structure fire takes 15 firefighters and costs at least $200,000, Houser said.

“Fire service in Mt. Pleasant Township is dangerous. ... safety isn't free,” Houser said. “They need a funding source. You can't get fire trucks by selling hoagies and spaghetti dinners. You just can't do it.

“So it's a plea.”

Hill said fire crews are asking for residents to pay a portion of the departments' costs.

“The demands for us to raise funds and do the training and do everything we need to do to keep this place solvent and viable just aren't there anymore,” Hill said.

“We're in a community right now that (has) a lot of seniors. They're stretched to the limit,” said township resident Jeffery Dezwaan. “Does it go up next year? The year after? How many more taxes are we going to get?”

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.