Fire company controversy divides township
Flash back to September of 2016…
Three Reading Township fire departments— Lake Meade Fire and Rescue, East Berlin Fire Department, and Hampton Fire Company- proposed a merger in an attempt to combine resources and fire protection services.
But now, Hampton Fire Company has decided that is no longer the right move for them.
“We knew just from past history that United Hook and Ladder was a very solid fire department. It’s slowly growing and we’re looking to grow. We felt at that time a merger with East Berlin and Lake Meade would just be a lateral move,” said Jason Phillips, vice president of Hampton Fire Department.
Hampton Fire Company voted instead to merge with an outside company, United Hook and Ladder out of New Oxford.
They say it was a better deal for them, but the township board of supervisors disagrees.
“As a township, knowing the amount of dollars we’ve put into this facility of taxpayer money and into equipment, and donations to this particular fire hall, we didn’t want to see it leave the township,” said Kevin Holtzinger, chairman of the board of supervisors.
Holtzinger says he wants to avoid imposing a fire tax in the township, and says that would have to happen in order to pay United Hook and Ladder to cover Hampton’s current territory.
The other option, he says, is to have East Berlin and Lake Meade, now known as Company 32, cover Hampton’s area, but they will run the risk of being spread too thin.
But Jason Phillips, Vice President of the Hampton Fire Company, says that isn’t necessary, and they hope to negotiate funding and continue to serve their current territory.
“The public is going to see the exact same, and possibly even better service from us. The only thing they will see difference is the name on the firetrucks will be different, the number is going to be different. The color is going to be different. Basically that’s it,” said Phillips.
Holtzinger says he does not want to give any taxpayer money to United Hook and Ladder, and plans to withhold funding as long as Hampton merges with them.
At this point, things remain at a standstill.