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Jim Thorpe fire dept. mutual aid to be priority

Published July 22. 2013 05:05PM

During the daytime from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Jim Thorpe's fire companies will offer help to other fire companies in local boroughs such as Nesquehoning and Lehighton if needed. These boroughs will also offer help to Jim Thorpe if needed.

Jim Thorpe Council member Jay Miller stated that the borough has a small amount of volunteers and all municipalities around the area are having the same issue. He said that more volunteer firefighters are always needed.

"This is how we are going to respond to the situation. They will help us and we will help them and hope we can continue volunteer service," stated Miller.

"It's good to help one another."

Councilmember John McGuire said that many people work out of town and that makes volunteerism difficult.

"The need (for volunteer firefighters) is there," stated McGuire.

The average age for volunteer firefighters is between 45-50 years.

Curtis Jackson, Jim Thorpe Emergency Management coordinator, questioned if having one fire department in Jim Thorpe instead of three separate departments would be helpful.

McGuire said that having three separate fire companies helps with location and it's easier dealing with traffic in town.

Mayor Michael Sofranko said that there are 26 paid fire departments in Pennsylvania and 1,744 volunteer departments. In 1970 there were over 500,000 volunteer fighters. Now there are less than 60,000 volunteer firefighters.

Sofranko said that the state has looked into different solutions and has done studies regarding volunteer fire companies. The state has tried consolidating companies and volunteerism still declined.

Sofranko said the state needs more volunteers.

In Jim Thorpe, individual companies pay for the majority of their equipment. The Jim Thorpe fire companies pay for the equipment by fundraising.

McGuire said that the borough has half a mill designated for a ladder truck. The state mandates that a borough can set aside up to three mills.

Miller emphasized that volunteers are needed and the answer to that right now is to have boroughs help one another.

In other news:

At a previous meeting, council approved attorney William Schwab to appeal to the 3rd Circuit regarding the decision from Judge Caputo on the John Thorpe versus Jim Thorpe law suit at the cost of $15,000.

Residents are working with the Jim Thorpe Planning Commission on fundraising to help defray the cost of the appeal.

McGuire gave an update and said that now all of the families of Jim Thorpe will be involved in mediation regarding the John Thorpe versus Jim Thorpe lawsuit.

Council approved the following:

• The Lot Line Adjustments/Tax parcel revision plans for Jake Arner on Flagstaff Mountain Road in Jim Thorpe. Tax parcel revisions for: Parcel "A" Acreage 143.35 acres proposed tax parcel #83A1-19-E2. Parcel "B" Acreage 174.28 acres proposed tax parcel #83-40-A1. Parcel "C" Acreage 28.346 acres, needs a new tax parcel number.

• The sewer plant will no longer accept hauled in septic waste due to new DEP requirements.

• A new account will be set up at Mauch Chunk Trust Company for taxes earmarked for the fire department.

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