Two local volunteer companies have entered into a "joint venture" in preparation for a full-scale merger, Lower Saucon Township Council members were told at their Feb. 2 meeting.
Se-Wy-Co Fire Company President Sal Ghazi explained that as of Feb. 1, Leithsville Fire Company's administrative responsibilities have been taken over by its sister company.
"Basically, all the administration will come through the financial officers," Ghazi explained, adding that "the residents of the township won't see any difference" in terms of responsiveness as a result of the new relationship.
"The only difference is our checkbook will have two names on it," he said.
The decision to have Leithsville combine with Se-Wy-Co was made after its membership dwindled to a point at which it could no longer remain viable as an independent volunteer fire company.
Se-Wy-Co Fire Chief Thomas Barndt will be chief of both companies according to the new arrangement and until an actual merger is completed, which Ghazi estimated will take six to nine months, pending state approval.
The Leithsville fire station will remain open and active but some streamlining will occur, Barndt suggested.
"We'll be consolidating apparatus and equipment" and some unit numbers will change, he told council members. "We will train as a single department, meet as a single department."
With the consolidation now in effect, Barndt said, he is working with the Northampton County 911 Center to "allow us to be dispatched as a single department" and has received approval from the state to file a single report when the crews are called to emergencies in the future.
Happily, he said, the members of the Leithsville Fire Company are "on board" and supportive of the move to consolidate.
"They are very excited about it," he said.
The merger of the two companies will not have an impact on a long-studied merger of all five Lower Saucon and Hellertown volunteer fire companies into a single organization, Barndt also said.
"Good luck," council Vice President Tom Maxfield said to Barndt and Ghazi.