Regionalized fire protection thankfully gaining momentum

Last year fire companies in Lycoming County responded to 1,400 calls, 126 of them working structure fires.

They also responded to 3,600 motor vehicle accidents and 8,500 medical calls in 2012.

With the exception of the City of Williamsport, this was all done by volunteer firemen.

And while those numbers show the need, the number of firemen doing the responding is dwindling.

The reasons are obvious family and work demands, regulations that require 300 to 400 hours of mandatory training to qualify firemen to respond to a fire.

There’s a scary scenario looming in which the tone goes off for a fire or emergency and no one responds.

Beyond the manpower shortage, there are equipment and vehicle needs that cost much more than departments have to spend.

There’s really only one solution and it’s thankfully gaining more and more traction regionalized fire protection.

The Greater Lycoming Emergency Services Alliance Committee includes fire departments from Williamsport, South Williamsport, DuBoistown, Montoursville and Old Lycoming Township.

They met again last week to explore ways that volunteer and paid fire departments can save costs and increase manpower.

They are working off a state Department of Community and Economic Development consultant’s recommendation to seek ways to pool resources while bringing borough councilmen and township supervisors into the mix.

It’s encouraging that regionalization concepts are being actively talked about and pursued, because it’s the only solution to the problems that will grow, not lessen, in the future.

It’s not a question of if these concepts will eventually be standard operating procedure, but when. It has to happen.