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Fire company asks Baldwin residents to rally against department's consolidation

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 11:09 p.m.

Leaders of Option Independent Fire Company are asking residents to rally together and tell borough officials they do not want the department to be consolidated or closed.

About 50 Baldwin Borough residents attended a public meeting held by the fire company on Wednesday night to learn more about what Option leaders said are potential plans by borough officials to close or consolidate the fire company.

“We are very concerned that things are shaping up very soon,” said Option Vice President Nancy Barylak.

Leaders from Option, one of three volunteer fire companies in Baldwin Borough, said talks at private meetings with borough leaders have become heated over the past several months. Rumors have begun to spread that Option will be closed in the next few months, fire company officials said.

This would not be a benefit to the borough, Barylak said, asking residents to sign a petition that will be given to borough council, urging them not to close or consolidate Option Independent. Lawyers for Option Independent and the now-defunct Becks Run Volunteer Fire Company, which borough leaders voted to decertify last year following charges of theft against some Becks Run leaders, filed a motion in Orphans Court in May, seeking a merger of assets.

Barylak said it was Becks Run leaders who approached Option Independent with the idea to merge assets.

“We want to take the first pick,” she said of Becks Runs' assets. “We're willing to share with the others.”

Baldwin Borough Mayor Alexander Bennett said there are no plans to close any of the municipality's three fire stations.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “We've never discussed closing any of the fire halls.”

Borough officials for many years ago asked the fire chiefs to review ways to share services, Bennett said. With changing situations, officials have discussed options of merging fire companies, he said.

Those plans, though, have been put on hold, due to the pending litigation in Orphan's Court, Bennett said.

“We're looking to better serve the public,” he said.

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