Op/Ed: Municipal funding decisions for fire/EMS putting public at risk

A.J. McCarthy (Times’ file photo).

By A.J. McCarthy, Chief, Longwood Fire Company

The decision by Oxford Borough Council to decrease funding for Union Fire Company and its EMS service is endangering its constituents’ safety. Also, the reported comments by Borough Manager Brian Hoover are infuriating and misleading the citizens of Oxford.

Fire companies and EMS units in Chester County struggle to secure sufficient funding to protect the life and safety of citizens. Residents expect and deserve professional 24-hours a day, seven days a week protection. Union Fire Company and its EMS service provides such service to the citizens of Oxford every day. The cost is not covered by contributions by municipalities and reimbursements by insurance companies. Fire companies continually do fund raising, seek grants and rely on the generosity of the community served to meet escalating costs of equipment, training and insurance.

Hoover told borough elected representatives they don’t have to sign a contract with the fire company and basically could give whatever amount they wish. What Hoover didn’t tell the public was that if the fire company is unable to continue service, by law the borough will have to provide fire protection. The contributions sought by Union Fire Company and EMS would be considered a drop in the bucket if the borough had to fund the total cost of running fire and ambulance services.

Hoover displayed a total lack of understanding when he commented on reimbursement of EMS services. Insurance in no way covers the cost of an EMS call. Residents expect a response when a loved one is having a medical emergency and 911 is called. By pulling funding from EMS, Hoover and Council are putting that timely response in jeopardy.

Volunteers serve the fire and ambulance services because they believe in community service. Many give up hundreds of hours a year away from their family and loved ones to keep their community safe. Hoover insulted every volunteer by saying the new state legislation permitting firefighters a tax credit is just a “feel good ordinance” that doesn’t really do anything. Volunteers deserved to be recognized for their sacrifices and service. Council President Ron Hershey lamented the administrative paperwork involved. Paperwork isn’t the issue, supporting and treating community volunteers fairly should be the paramount concern.

Adequate funding of fire companies and EMS units is essential to the safety of a community. Oxford Council needs to reverse its decision and fund the fire company and EMS at its requested levels. Also, Hoover should apologize for his inappropriate, naive and misleading comments.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment