Emsworth, Ben Avon look at fire company consolidation

Emsworth and Ben Avon officials and firefighters will attempt their own fire department consolidation rather than wait for departments in other municipalities to get on board as recommended in a recent state study.

The study conducted through the state Department of Community and Economic Develop-ment produced a plan that would consolidate the fire companies in all of the North Boroughs except Ohio Township into a single department. The study concluded that the consolidation could be accomplished with one Northgate and one Avonworth station manned by six full-time paid firefighters in addition to the many volunteers who currently respond to calls.

Emsworth Council member Paul Getz said following the July 8 council meeting that the Avalon and Bellevue volunteer fire companies were not interested in consolidation at this time. The Kilbuck Township Volunteer Fire Company will disband Sept. 1. That leaves Emsworth and Ben Avon, and Getz said that officials from those boroughs are interested in the possibility of future cost savings that could come from a consolidation.

“We have got to look at it closely,” said Mayor George Rossi, adding that “consolidation is imperative” in the face of escalating costs.

The two boroughs will employ a private company to study the consolidation, with each borough chipping in $3,000. Emsworth Council approved the expenditure at Wednesday’s meeting. Ben Avon officials are expected to do the same when they meet on July 21.

The process also will get a helping hand from Ben Avon native and former Emsworth and Ben Avon firefighter Jim Crawford, who currently works as an assistant fire chief for the City of Pittsburgh.

Crawford said that he expected the process to take at least a year as representatives of the two boroughs and their respective fire companies address the many issues involved.

Getz said that the consolidation group began to meet formally last month.

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