July merger of two York County fire departments delayed

DILLSBURG, YORK COUNTY, Pa. -- The merger of two York County fire departments hits a snag.

A proposal to address a volunteer fire fighter shortage, met with another issue for the two engine companies and possibly for taxpayers.

Chiefs at local fire companies statewide say they can't find enough volunteers. Officials at Dillsburg's Citizens Hose and Franklintown's Community Fire departments thought they had one solution to their problem until now.

Northern York County EMS Steering Committee chairman Frank Wirth said "the merger between Franklintown Community Fire Company and Dillsburg Citizens Hose Company, we've had some developments within the last couple of months, and one of them is EMS protection for the community."

Wirth said those communities may be looking elsewhere for emergency medical services.

The ability for Citizens Hose to provide EMS services does more than help save lives.

"It helps as it relates to the operation of the facility. They help to augment the costs of utilities, and basically the facility that they use also, in addition to the fire service," Wirth said.

Without it, the responsibility could fall to taxpayers to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, chicken dinners and other fire hall fundraisers might not be enough to cover costs.

"You're looking at a dollar, two dollars profit from a chicken dinner, and when you're talking about multi-million dollar pieces of fire apparatus today, a fire engine is a half a million dollars, an aerial device, a ladder truck can be up to a million dollars," Wirth said.

There are a few issues to be resolved to help the merger move forward.

"The creation of an inter-governmental agency, and also from a business planning perspective, we're moving the merger date from July 15, to January 1, 2018," Wirth said.

Anything could change between now and then, but there is one thing Wirth believes is guaranteed.

"The community is not going to be without EMS protection. That's the one thing we want to assure everybody," Wirth said.

FOX 43 News reached out to borough officials in Dillsburg and Franklintown, but none were willing or available to comment at this time.