Franklin Township Fire District No. 1
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In years past, the volunteers of the Quakertown Fire Company were mostly agricultural related families and working people from the local community. Since that time, the demands on the Fire Company and the demographics of the region changed. Fire Company don't have the rural families with local employees anymore, nor do our volunteers have as much time to commit to the fund raising aspects of the Quakertown Fire Company, resulting in fewer volunteers.
A contributing factor to this was the increased time demands on the volunteers. Since our formation, the required training to serve as a firefighter has increased dramatically. In order to allow for increased safety to our members and the public, firefighters are required to undergo hundreds of hours of rigorous training and certification, necessitating a significant time commitment. While our mission to protect life and property in the greater Quakertown area has remained unchanged, our Company has added multiple disciplines to better serve the community. Our agency provides emergency medical care and transport, technical rescue operations, and numerous associated tasks and responsibilities. The cost of providing these services has continually increased over the course of time, reaching prices never before imagined. Fuel, insurance, apparatus, equipment, supplies and utility costs are far higher than when the Company was formed. Over time, our volunteers were getting frustrated with the time spent raising money to buy life-saving equipment, when they could be training or at home with their families. Beyond these factors, the call volume of the Company has increased significantly over time. The district our company serves once was comprised of agriculture and single family homes. Today, residential areas have expanded, commercial facilities have been constructed, vehicle traffic has increased and the population has grown significantly. While incidents in the past consisted mostly of fires, the advent of residential and commercial smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have resulted in a large increase in non-fire responses. These devices are essential in saving lives and property, however require a company response upon their activation, whether a hazardous condition exists or not. Our response area has also continued to expand, bringing in more population and property to cover. In addition, people tend to live further away from their jobs than they used to, thus limiting the time and ability of a firefighter to respond to an emergency call. This brought our volunteers to a crossroad in the future of the Quakertown Fire Company- a point that effected the funding of the daily operation of the Fire Company.
At this point, with calls rising over 10% annually, the Fire Company looked to the residents of Franklin Township for stability. They could no longer continue to fund the Fire Company by cooking breakfasts and soliciting for funds from the public to keep them going.
A Fire District needed to be formed within the boundaries of Franklin Township to serve the residences of Franklin. A governing body which would be comprised of five (5) Commissioners, elected by the public for three year terms. These Commissioners would be responsible for overseeing Fire Prevention to Franklin Township and portions of the neighboring communities of Alexandria and Union Townships.
The Commissioners annual budget for the Fire District is presented to the public through a public vote on the third Saturday of February each year. Upon approval by the public, the budget would be funded through the tax base of Franklin Township and negotiated agreements with Alexandria and Union Townships.
These Commissioners are also responsible for negotiating fees for services to the adjoining communities that the Fire Company serves, paying for the services of mutual aid companies, hydrant use taxes, Office of Fire Prevention and other associated operations of the Fire District.
The Franklin Township Committee on June 6th 2002 passed an ordinance creating the Fire District in The Township of Franklin. A special election was held shortly after State approval and the first five Commissioners, James Stashluk, Roger Foor, Art Barrick, Charles Patkochis and David Dalrymple were elected by a special public vote in November and the first meeting was held on November 26, 2002.
The first budget was presented to the voters in February 15, 2003 and was unanimously approved along with the reelection of Commissioners Patkochis and Foor.
Our current commissioners are President Charles Patkochis, Vice President Peter Enea III, Treasurer Christopher Vallat, Secretary Bill Enea, and Assistant Secretary George Reichert.
Monthly Meetings of the Fire District are held on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:00 pm at the Quakertown Firehouse. All meetings are open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend the meetings.
Annual elections for voter approval of the annual budget and election of commissioners are held on the third Saturday of February at the Quakertown Firehouse between the hours of 2:00 to 9:00 PM.
What is a Fire District Commissioner and what are the requirements to serve?:
The New Jersey Statute Title 40A:14-70 provides for five duly elected Commissioners to a Board of Fire Commissioners for a Fire District. Other than a newly created Fire District each Commissioner serves a three year term. In order to be eligible to serve as a Commissioner there are certain requirements which must be met; you must be a resident of the Fire District, you must be of legal age (18) to hold a public office. There is an additional requirement that you be a registered voter however the statute is not real clear in this regard. There are no other requirements to serve as a Fire Commissioner. Specifically you do not have to be a firefighter to serve as a Fire Commissioner. They do state that an individual who is President, Vice-President, Chief or assistant Chief of the Fire Company in the Fire District cannot serve as a Commissioner.
A Fire District Commissioner has the obligation with his fellow Commissioners of ensuring that the Fire District has the ability to extinguish and prevent fires. In this regard the Commissioner makes decisions concerning the fire safety, including the expenditure of moneys to ensure the protection on such items as the Bureau of Fire Prevention, training, equipment, etc. for the volunteer firefighters. A budget is formulated by the Board of Commissioners to allow for such expenditures of moneys