Tabernacle Fire Company wants to expand, improve equipment

Ten year plan includes applying for grants to increase staff

Tabernacle Fire Company (Alyssa Biederman/The Sun).

In the last four months, Tabernacle Fire Company has been busy getting the organization in top shape to move forward.

A new 10 year plan presented at a township committee meeting on May 10 

includes creating a preventative maintenance program for equipment and applying for grants to recruit new firefighters, according to Fire Chief Keith Zane and his deputy, John Gajderowicz.

The company’s goals are threefold: Build manpower, improve access to water and provide more holistic training. The company currently has 16 firefighters on staff and two in training, Gajderowicz said. But he worries that volunteer numbers will begin to decline as years go by. 

“Unfortunately, volunteering is nothing like what it used to be 20 years ago, when I started,” the deputy explained. “Today, we have not even half that.”

Because Tabernacle does not have fire hydrants, all water used to fight fires must be transported by trucks. Staying on top of truck maintenance and improving response times would make the company more efficient, Gajderowicz added.

The fire company also hopes to improve training for volunteers, ensuring all receive medic training.

The revitalization comes after Zane and Gajderowicz stepped into their new roles in January.

“I’m thinking of what is best for the Tabernacle Township resident,” Zane noted. “I am, in no way, shape or form saying this firm is going to be standing alone.”

Committee member Joseph Barton said he was concerned about the cost of the company’s plan, as it did not include a budget.

“This is a very aggressive trend and it looks like it’s going to require a lot of capital,” he argued.

Gajderowicz said the funding will come in the form of grants and mutual aid agreements with neighboring companies.

Tabernacle’s company will apply for a $250,000 grant that would fund the addition of four new firefighters to serve during weekdays. Grants could also fund new equipment and improvements to existing equipment.

Committee member Bob Sunbury noted that the plan is still in its early stages; nothing in it has been approved by the governing body.

“We’re gonna digest this and think about things like budgeting,” Sunbury reported. “Nothing is written in stone. This committee wants nothing but the best fire company that we can provide for our residents.”

Also at the meeting, township Chief Financial Officer Rodney Haines presented a   2021 budget that will be introduced with no tax increase. A more detailed review of the plan will take place at the committee’s next meeting on May 24.

Mark Lemire, recreation committee chairman, noted there will not be a township led Memorial Day gathering this year, but the local VFW post will visit Tabernacle cemeteries. Lemire will talk about coordinating a July 4 event at a later date.