Lehigh Valley

Days may be numbered for Freemansburg Fire Company

The Northampton County borough considers contracting with Bethlehem for fire service

Days may be numbered for Freemansburg Fire Company

FREEMANSBURG, Pa. - It's been serving Freemansburg, Northampton Co., for more than a century, but soon, the Freemansburg Fire Company could cease to exist.

Borough leaders said they are considering paying Bethlehem to take over fire services.

The sign outside the fire company on Wednesday said staffing is critical, but the message on the sign could soon change from 'help wanted' to 'vacancy.'

Borough leaders are talking about contracting with Bethlehem for fire services.

"This is very preliminary. Discussions are just taking place at this time.," said Judith Danko, the borough manager.

Danko said equipment costs are rising and contracting with Bethlehem could save the borough in the long run. Danko said borough leaders are also worried about a lack of volunteers.

"We have been here for 107 years and we have never had a problem going to calls, and for them to take our service is shocking," said Capt. Jose Garcia, Freemansburg Fire Co.

Garcia said Freemansburg has 30 volunteers, and when manpower is short, it relies on mutual aid agreements. As far as the finances go, Garcia said the department receives grants to pay for the things it needs beyond what it gets from the borough.

Some borough residents said they see both sides of the issue.

"You got to give it to those guys who do this as volunteers and you have to respect that. But then again, people's safety is what really counts, I guess," said Bill Dougherty. "Whatever would be the fastest response time would be the best idea."

Garcia said many of the volunteers work locally, so response time is not an issue.

If Bethlehem takes over, borough officials said response times would likely be the same because firefighters would be on the ready.

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and Freemansburg officials released a statement saying they will have an announcement Thursday regarding regional cooperation, enhanced fire protection and life safety for the borough.

Freemansburg firefighters are scheduled to meet with borough leaders about the issue Nov. 18.

In the meantime, the borough is meeting with the fire company to talk about the issue on Nov. 18.

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