Washington Fire Company

Washington Fire Company in Mechanicsburg

Sentinel file

A proposed merger between Mechanicsburg’s two fire companies was a hot topic at Tuesday night’s Mechanicsburg Borough Council meeting, with the chief of the Washington Fire Company urging borough officials to finalize a decision about the matter by next month.

During the meeting’s public comment period, Gary Neff, fire chief of Washington Fire Company, addressed the borough council with a lengthy written statement about the matter “because we want it identified to borough council and the taxpayers how (the Washington Fire Company) has supported the consolidation efforts as it was agreed upon in 2012.”

In November 2012, an eight-member steering committee comprising borough officials, residents and business owners began meeting periodically to discuss a possible merger between the borough’s two fire companies — Washington Fire Company and Citizens Fire and Rescue. At that time, Citizen's fire chief Joel Warner said both fire companies were receptive to the idea, according to a November 2012, article published in The Sentinel.

Nearly five years later, Neff said the one thing that’s been accomplished is the parties agreeing that the merged entity would be called the Mechanicsburg Fire Department. Neff urged the borough council to make a final decision on the matter by Sept. 30 so a merger can take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

“It appears that we’re stalled in discussions. Do you feel that Jan. 1 is adequate?” Borough council vice president Jack Winchell asked Mark Stoner, who serves as the borough council’s liaison on the merger steering committee.

“Yes. The biggest thing that was holding it up was the SODs (Standard Operating Guidelines),” Stoner replied, adding that he will discuss the matter further at the steering committee’s next meeting that is scheduled for Aug. 24. “It’s no problem. Seventy-five percent of the committee is for (the merger).”

Steering Committee representative Ben Reid told borough council members he agreed “that date works.”

Borough council member John Anthony suggested inviting Citizens Fire and Rescue representatives to speak at the borough council’s next meeting on Aug. 15. Borough manager Roger Ciercierski said he invited Citizens representatives to Tuesday’s meeting but the company reportedly turned down the offer. No Citizens representatives attended Tuesday’s borough council meeting.

“Invite them (for Aug. 15) anyway,” borough council president Rodney Whitcomb urged, stating that he thought each party should address the borough council at separate meetings, anyway.

The borough council is expected to make a final decision on a date for initiating the proposed merger after the steering committee’s Aug. 24 meeting.

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