Royersford Borough is making some major changes to its fire departments. As a matter of fact, they are changing from departments to department. Although and officially consolidated and went from a two-company setup to a one-company setup back in February, they hadn't registered for the official Royersford Fire Department name and organization until early August. The official incorporation date was Aug. 5.
Originally operating as Stations 84 and 85, the February consolidation designated them solely as Station 98. The single operation will work to Royersford's advantage according to Borough Fire Chief Gary Wezel.
"Really what it means for both companies is for a better more efficeint run fire department in the borough, rather than depulication of services and equipment," Wezel said. "We will now be able to streamline the fireground operations and better utilize the equipment and manpower."
The ultimate goal is a complete consolidation of both Fire Ground Operations and Administration Operations, according to Wezel. Currently, they are working on the Fire Ground Operations and then will be looking toward moving to Administration Operations. All advancements in the consolidation have to be approved by the current organizations prior to moving forward.
"The officers and firefighters realized that there was a great reduction in manpower and that we could be more effective if we were operating as a single department," said Wezel. "We also looked at the reduction of funding and how we could better utilize these funds."
Since the borough operates a volunteer fire organization, there are no plans to cut any firefighters and Wezel said they are always looking for additional personnel. The only personnel reduction comes in officers, although those officers still remain active firefighters.
"Before the consolidation each station had there own chief and assistant officers ranging from two to four depending on department," Wezel said. "Then the Borough appointed a Borough Chief from a candidate from each of the stations. So, before the consolidation we had nine officers and have reduced it to six - three officers from each station and rotating down through the ranks."
The new Royersford Fire Department will be voting on the officers this coming year, which will then give the firefighters complete control over the election of their officers, according to Wezel.
As for Wezel, the borough has had the Borough Fire Chief position for more than 40 years. The position has been rolled into the Fire Chief position for the new department.
Another goal is to build a brand new fire station; however, reduced funding and available ground may prove difficulties for that. So, the next best thing would be an addition on one of the two houses. Wezel said which house to be used has yet to be determined.
"Operation out of one building depends on finances," Wezel said. "It's a $1.2 million project to add on to either station. The goal is to do it in five years, but we're also optimistic. We know it may not happen."
Currently, the firefighters have the ability to go to either station and make sure an apparatus goes out.
Wezel said he is currently in the process of selling the rescue truck, as well as Engine 98-3. They will be replaced by a new rescue engine, which is currently being built. They were able to accomplish that through a $280,000 federal grant to Humane Fire Company. That figure is less than half the cost of the new apparatus.
Overall, Wezel is looking forward to the merge and is greatful toward his members.
"I want to thank all the members for their support of the consolidation and their time and effort to make this work," Wezel said. "There are always bugs to be worked out and greatly appreciate the members patience in the process."