Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem Fire Department slated to takeover Freemansburg fire operations

BFD slated to takeover Freemansburg fire operations

FREEMANSBURG, Pa. - A proposed change in fire services has some residents of Freemansburg, Northampton Co., fired up.

The Bethlehem Fire Department is slated to take over duties in Freemansburg. Now, officials are explaining the reason for the change.

The contract is 95 percent complete, according to all involved. Borough officials cited lack of volunteers and resident safety for the decision.

Members of the Freemansburg Fire Company said they can trace the company's history back more than 100 years. So, imagine the shock when borough leaders made the announcement with the city at a news conference Thursday.

"The borough came to me and to our fire commissioner, George Barkanic, sometime ago to discuss the possibility of the city of Bethlehem providing fire coverage to the borough of Freemansburg," Mayor John Callahan, D-Bethlehem, told the crowd. 

"It's unbelievable what we just heard," said Jose Garcia, president of the Freemansburg Fire Company. "This is going to hurt the borough of Freemansburg."

The deal is not done yet. Both parties said it's 95 percent complete.

The proposed contract is for 10 years, and Freemansburg will pay Bethlehem $40,000 the first year, with a one percent increase in years two through 10 for fire services.

"The major issue of concern for them is can our volunteers continue to service the borough in what is really needed," said Judith Danko, Freemansburg borough manager.

"A lot of residents that know, they're in favor with us." added Garcia.

Borough officials said the change isn't a reflection on the volunteers. 

"Like I said, the main objective is the protection of the community," said firefighter Kevin Kalman. "So whatever happens, that can not be jeopardized in any way shape of form."

Freemansburg borough officials will meet with members of the fire company on Monday.

Both councils still need to vote on the contract before the agreement can move forward.

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