Although it's been discussed for some time, the merger of Lower Saucon Township's Se-Wy-Co and Leithsville volunteer fire companies is now finally official.
In a press release issued Sept. 26, it was announced that the merger became official Sept. 14 and is being recognized by Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Edward Mann as the first such merger in the history of Northampton County.
The two companies had been moving toward a merger by operating as partners in a "joint venture" since February 2011, with "both fire departments...under one chain of command, and the adminstrative duties...handled by a joint board," the release said.
In the months since, several pieces of fire equipment have been sold as part of the consolidation and the amount of time needed to perform administrative duties was reduced, according to the statement, which cited "tough economic times and the ever increasing dwindling of volunteers" as the driving force behind the merger.
Over the summer, the members of both companies also began to raise money to help rebuild the Leithsville Fire Station, which was destroyed in a fiery fatal dump truck accident in May.
The press release said the fire companies' merger was accomplished with assistance from Rob Brady of the state's Department of Community and Economic Development and support from Lower Saucon Township, as well as the volunteer members themselves.
The companies are now consolidated as the Se-Wy-Co Volunteer Fire Company under chief Thomas Barndt.
The remaining independent volunteer fire companies in the Saucon Valley are Steel City and Southeastern in Lower Saucon Township, and Dewey Fire Co. in Hellertown.