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Penn Forest funding firetrucks

Published December 24. 2019 10:07AM

Penn Forest Township is increasing its funding for its two fire companies so they can each buy a new firetruck.

Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 and 2 are both looking to replace trucks which are each more than 20 years old and have maintenance issues.

The supervisors agreed Monday night to increase its annual funding for the two departments by a combined $152,528 to cover the payments for the trucks.

The vote came after the supervisors met with the chiefs of both fire companies Monday night.

Supervisor Scott Lignore said the trucks are needed given the growing population of permanent residents in Penn Forest Township, and noted that other neighboring municipalities do the same thing for their fire departments.

“I think we’re doing something good for the community. God forbid something would happen … and we didn’t give them the money. I think this is something very important that we should do,” Lignore said.

The funding increase will take effect in 2021, when the first payments on the trucks are due.

It will cover the annual payments for 10-year, 3.16 percent loans to cover the cost of the new trucks. Both companies are in negotiations to purchase new Rosenbauer firetrucks through Horrocks Fire and Rescue Apparatus.

They plan to finance the trucks through Community Leasing Partners.

The funding would be in addition to the $30,000 that the companies each receive annually to cover payments on their existing equipment.

The township currently has no municipal property tax.

Fire Company No. 1 is replacing a 26-year-old pumper truck, which is the first truck dispatched to a call. Chief Tom Lynd said it is difficult to get replacement parts for the current truck.

To purchase a new Rosenbauer pumper for Fire Company No. 1, the supervisors agreed to increase their annual appropriation by $79,941.80.

“It’s great that they’re supporting us. I don’t know how we’d buy a truck,” Lynd said.

Fire Company No. 2 is replacing a 23-year-old tanker truck. Chief Dave Vukovic said the metal has been repaired numerous times, but still leaks. Firefighters have to refill it on a regular basis so it is ready to respond to calls.

“The water around here eats through the pipes at your home — it does the same thing with our tank,” Vukovic said.

To purchase a new Rosenbauer tanker, the supervisors agreed to increase their appropriation buy $72,587.09.

The new truck will include a poly tank so leaks aren’t a problem. It will also hold be capable of transporting up to eight firefighters, which will cut down on the number of firefighters’ vehicles at a scene.

The chiefs from both companies told the supervisors that their current fundraising efforts do not generate enough money to cover truck payments.

Vukovic said that his company applied for grants but were turned down because their overall fleet was not old enough for them to qualify for grants.

Before the vote, Supervisor Judith Knappenberger — who was participating by phone — said she wanted to see financial reports from the fire companies, as well as the denial letters for the grants which Fire Company No. 2 applied for.

Firefighters said they provide those reports to the township, and that they were verbally denied when they applied for grants.

Knappenberger said she would have liked to put the decision out for a referendum, but learned that the township could only ask for a referendum if it planned to borrow money to pay for the trucks.

Supervisor Warren Reiner said the supervisors will stand by their commitment to provide funding throughout the 10-year term of the loan.

Roger Meckes, in his final meeting on the board, thanked the firefighters for their dedication to the township.

“Both departments, thank you guys. You do a great job for the community, and I thank you,” he said.

Glad to hear. Penn Forest, and all volunteer fire companies, need volunteers firepersons, as well.
A Blessed Christmas to ALL, as well.

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