Clearfield Fire Department President Presents Letter Against Consolidation

CLEARFIELD – With the Clearfield Borough Council and Lawrence Township supervisors set for their second joint meeting in just under two weeks, one borough entity is expressing a desire to not combine services offered by the municipalities.

Ed Heberling, president of the Clearfield Volunteer Fire Department, presented the council with a two-page letter during Thursday’s council meeting.

In the letter, the results of a vote taken during a special meeting held Oct. 7 were listed. Only one person voted in favor of the consolidation of the Clearfield Volunteer Fire Department with Lawrence Township’s three companies. Thirty-five people voted against it, and five people either abstained or were unable to vote.

Clearfield Borough Fire Chief Brett Owens said after the meeting that he was the lone “yes” vote.

“This body believes that the municipalities (Clearfield Borough and Lawrence Township) should consolidate themselves first,” the letter read. “Thus leading by example.”

It went on to state: “Do not use the fire service as an EXPERIMENT to see what will happen.”

The letter also included eight bullet points containing questions and concerns regarding the proposed consolidation.

The letter asks what would happen to the debt owed by Lawrence Township’s fire companies. It questions what will happen to relief funds. It asks why the borough would consider closing borough fire stations with an ethanol plant planned to be built in the borough. It expresses concern regarding the differences in fire suppression ratings between the township and the borough.

Included in the letter is a statement regarding the fact that the Susquehanna Bureau of Fire was created to save the individual departments money.

“To date, the Susquehanna Bureau of Fire has had minimal impact on the budgets of the supporting municipalities or the member fire organizations,” the letter read. “This is a(n) existing tool available to the member municipalities, to date it has had very little interest.”

Clearfield Borough Mayor Patty Gilliland said the reality is that several state agencies are telling her that they will no longer support individual fire companies in such close proximity. She added that those who carry out such consolidations on their own will receive funding and support.

“None of us like change,” she said. “But, change has to happen, and they’re telling us it has to happen.”

Clearfield Borough Secretary Pam Peters noted that the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services informed her Thursday that an approval will be given for a regional police study to determine whether consolidation in that area is feasible. The study of the fire departments is still under review.

The Clearfield Borough Council and Lawrence Township supervisors are scheduled for their second joint meeting Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in the borough building.

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