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Proposal to help volunteer fire companies

Newswatch 16's Chris Keating shows us how a proposed plan may solve the issues of volunteerism.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Back in March, Newswatch 16 spoke with the South Williamsport Fire Department about the lack of active volunteer firefighters. The department only has two people responding to calls.

"We are continuing to lose members. Whether it is people moving out of the area or some members resigned due to age and physical health," said Chief Tyler Dickson of the South Williamsport Fire Department.

The Williamsport Bureau of Fire provided 90 days of assistance to the fire station in Southside. Those 90 days are now up. 

Chief Tyler Dickson tells Newswatch 16 that the fire company is now working on a plan he believes will change the landscape of firefighting.

"We are going to be able to staff two firefighters at South Williamsport, as well as two firefighters at Loyalsock Township, starting Monday through Friday working a 40-hour workweek, plus a paid full-time administrator," said Chief Dickson.

In the proposed plan, South Williamsport and Loyalsock Township would split the salary cost of four full-time firefighters. Firefighters would respond to calls in both municipalities.

The borough of South Williamsport has already given the go-ahead for the proposed plan, but it still needs to be voted upon by officials in Loyalsock Township. Newswatch 16 spoke with the chief at Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company, and he believes it could save lives.

"This gives us an opportunity to enhance our service that we provide to our residents and help them out with quicker responses during the day," said Chief Michael Minnier of the Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company.

However, volunteer firefighters would still be needed.

"This is not to replace the volunteers but to supplement them and take the stress off of them, as most of our volunteers nowadays work Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 jobs," added Chief Dickson.

Chief Dickson says many people came together to create this plan.

"This could not have happened without the support of Steve Cappelli, the borough manager, Mayor Angelo, borough council, as well as Chief Mike Minnier of Loyalsock Volunteer Fire Company."

Loyalsock Township officials will vote on the proposed plan at the end of the month.

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