Economic forces make fire alliances a must

The practical realities of firefighting in the 21st Century are scary.

According to the professionals at a meeting on fire protection this week, it takes 20 firefighters to manage a typical structure fire.

It also takes $1 million to buy a new fire truck.

Meanwhile, the volunteer forces in municipalities throughout Lycoming County and the region are dwindling due to multiple factors that won’t be changing in the future lack of time to volunteer and economic pressures. And the City of Williamsport, while it possesses a paid fire department, can only afford barebones staffing.

And neither the volunteer department nor the city can afford a $1 million fire truck.

On the other hand, the volunteers in the municipal departments throughout the region are impressive and very capable. And the member departments of the Greater Lycoming Emergency Services Alliances Committee DuBoistown, South Williamsport, Old Lycoming Township and Montoursville possess more than 45 pieces of apparatus.

You add up all these plusses and minuses and come up with only one conclusion, the one reached by state Rep. Rick Mirabito, a Williamsport Democrat, at the meeting: Alliances of neighboring fire departments are going to happen.

And the sooner it happens the better. The economic forces are such that every year municipalities resist this practical idea is costly and maybe even unwise from a fire protection standpoint.

We are heartened by the attention fire alliances are getting in our region and heartened by the attitude shown by officials at Tuesday’s meeting. The time has come.