Commissioners discuss stipend for fire volunteers

A trial run will be financed through Jan. 31 with budget funds

The borough’s board of commissioners passed a resolution at its work session on Sept. 12 to encourage firefighting volunteers at Haddon Fire Company No. 1 by providing them with a stipend beginning Saturday, Sept. 24.

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 “We are trying to assist (the fire company) with call response, so we have established a stipend program for the overnight shift, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” said Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough. “… This is a trial period to see if it works.”

The trial will be paid for with surplus funds from the budget and will run through Jan. 31. During that period, the borough and Fire Chief Lou Frontino will review the performance metrics to see if the program helps reduce response time and improve public safety. 

Whether the stipends continue or not will depend on available funds and the performance review. McCullough said commissioners could always renew the program at a later date if it succeeds.

A statement by the commissioners later explained that “each shift will staff a minimum of three duty crew members, with a maximum of four.” and the current program will use existing members who have already been placed on crews and have been unpaid.

“The chief has indicated that there are a number of individuals that are ready, willing and able,” said Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich. “They’ve actually put into place duty crews for those overnight shifts, and that’s been working out very well. 

“Those individuals who have been doing it unpaid would obviously be considered …” she added.  “The hope is that those same individuals would be able to take advantage of the stipend to serve those hours.”

“We need borough residents to volunteer,” Frontino said in the commissioners’ statement. “Currently, only 19 of our 41 members live in Haddonfield, which is important because it impacts response times. 

“We hope local recruits will join Haddon Fire (Company) to help us save the lives of their neighbors and prevent property damage.” 

To learn more about joining the fire company, call (856) 429-4308 or visit http://haddonfirecompany.org/

The commissioners also introduced an ordinance at the meeting that would allow the borough to convert part of its parking lot to a private entity for use in affordable housing. There will be a special meeting on Oct. 3 at 5 p.m. for the measure’s second reading, and a public hearing via Zoom. 

The next board of commissioners meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Its Oct. 11 session has been rescheduled for Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

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