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Newtown Fire Association

Station 45
14 Liberty Street, Newtown, PA 18940
Tel (215) 968-3731
Station 55
55 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940
Tel (215) 860-5503

Questions & Answers


Q. What did Newtown Township propose to change?
A. Newtown Township is proposing to end their 127 year relationship with the Newtown Fire Association (NFA), beginning in January
2018.
Q. What is the Newtown Fire Association?
A. Founded in 1889, the Association (NFA) was established for the purpose of extinguishing fires and protecting lives and property.
Since that time, the NFA has been compromised of dedicated, highly trained volunteers who respond at a moments notice to
emergencies, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. The NFA maintains a firehouse on Liberty Street in Newtown Borough, and a
firehouse on Municipal Drive in Newtown Township. They operate a Ladder truck, Rescue truck, and Utility vehicle based at the
Borough location, and two Engines based at the Township station. All of the members of the NFA are volunteers, including the Chief,
President, officers, trustees and firefighters. The NFA covers Newtown Township and Newtown Borough, and assists neighboring fire
companies at more serious incidents under long standing Mutual Aid agreements.
Q. Is the NFA a government entity?
A. No. The NFA is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. It provides service to both Newtown Borough and Township, and provides
mutual aid assistance to surrounding fire departments at more serious incidents.
Q. What does Newtown Township propose to do when they end their relationship with the NFA?
A. The Township has proposed several radical ideas:
They plan to start an entirely new volunteer fire department that is an entity of Newtown Township
They first plan to build a new, 2,000 square foot office as an addition to the Public Works building, which is only a few feet
away from the NFAs existing, and fairly new Township station.
They plan to buy a used firetruck to serve all of Newtown Township
They plan to hire a paid Deputy Fire Chief to recruit volunteer firefighters
They plan to purchase new fire equipment to support this new operation
They plan on relying on neighboring fire companies such as Wrightstown and Upper Makefield for coverage
They plan on mainly utilizing Bucks County Community College Fire Science students to serve as volunteers.
Q. What is Newtown Fire Associations position regarding the proposal?
A. The NFA believes this proposal is a sudden, radical, unwarranted, and poorly devised plan created by a Township Manager with
limited knowledge of the fire services, without any input from, and without notice to the NFA. Most importantly, the proposed
changes by the Township:
Reduces the fire services available to the people of Newtown Township, by reducing the amount of volunteer firefighters,
firefighter apparatus, and increasing response times to emergencies
Results in wasteful and unnecessary spending of tax money to fund, and continue to fund an entirely new fire volunteer fire
department which will be subpar to the one already in place through the NFA
Puts lives and property at risk due to a decrease in fire services and experienced fire personnel
Sets the path for continued wasteful spending in the future
Sets the path for increased taxes
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Adds a completely unnecessary paid Deputy Chief position, whos salary and benefits alone would cost more than half of
what Newtown Township currently contributes to the NFA
Completely ignores the 127 years of exceptional and devoted service the NFA has provided to Newtown Township

Q. How much will this cost?


A. Kurt Furguson, the Township manager, claims this decision will save the Township money in the long run. However, analyzation of
the details released suggests quite the opposite. The Deputy Fire Chief position alone will cost about $100,000 in salary and benefits
annually, which is already more than half of what the Township pays to fund the NFA ($170,000). The Public Works building transition
is estimated to cost $375,000. A used engine is estimated to cost $248,225 and turnout gear $52,500. These are only estimates and
seem to be too low to provide the minimum equipment and services necessary to safely protect the firefighters and for them to
properly perform their job safeguarding the community. The purchase of a firetruck, turnout gear, and equipment is completely
unwarranted as the NFA already has all this equipment. The township managers estimates only take into account initial costs, and do
not appear include all costs, such as equipping the engine they will purchase, buying necessary equipment such as radios and SCBA,
thermal imagers and gas meters, fuel and maintenance costs.
Although the use of volunteer firefighters is free, the equipment, fire trucks, and buildings to operate out of are extremely expensive.
We should know, we have been doing this for 127 years. We estimate the initial startup costs and hidden costs will be significantly
more than estimated by the Township manager:
15 sets of turnout gear (pants and coat) conservatively costing $2,000 each = $30,000
Helmets, fire gloves, hoods, boots, rescue gloves conservatively at $750 each person = $11,250
SCBA (breathing apparatus) and masks estimate of $2,500 each, 10 sets = $25,000. Add at least $5,000 for spare SCBA
cylinders ($30,000)
Portable radios - $2,500 each, for 7 people = $17,500
Deputy Chief vehicle = $40,000, unless a used vehicle can be obtained and converted
Deputy Chief position = estimate of $70,000 in salary alone, $100,000 including benefit costs
Cost of building addition/new firehouse $375,000, according to township
Workers compensation insurance for 15 volunteer firefighters - $10,000 - $20,000
Used fire engine - $248,225, according to the Township
Total estimate around $840,000 minimum
This estimate does not include fuel costs, building maintenance, vehicle maintenance, equipment maintenance costs and
other expenses such as training costs. It also does not include the cost of required equipment on a fire engine, such as
supply hoses, handline hoses, rescue tools, hand tools, etc.
This estimate also assumes the used fire engine being purchased is in excellent condition. A used fire engine would likely
have a shorter life span and require more frequent and costly maintenance. With only one engine, Newtown would be
completely without an engine and fire coverage if the fire truck needed even routine maintenance performed. Although a
used $248,225 fire engine may be cheaper than, say a $600,000 new engine, age and maintenance issues will equate to an
earlier replacement cycle than a new engine, meaning the purchase price of the firetruck would need to be repeated more
frequently than the current replacement cycle the NFA adheres to.
This does not include the Townships $1,061,273 budget for the Newtown Emergency Services Department, which is
separate from the NFA budget.
Q. The Township proposes to rely on Wrightstown and Upper Makefields fire companies to provide assistance?
A. Yes, however both of those organizations are also volunteer and their primary focus is on the communities they serve. Like us, the
Fire Chiefs of our neighboring fire departments were unaware of the Townships announcement, and share many of our concerns
with the concept. They would be stretched too thin by frequently responding to cover Newtown, and many sections within Newtown
are at least 10-15 minutes away from these other towns fire stations. The NFA is already strategically located in Newtown Township,
and at a centralized location in Newtown Borough, making all calls within Newtown within close reach.

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Q. The Township seems to think their annual payment of $170,000 to the NFA is excessive. What does the NFA do with that
money?
A. The NFA is expected to receive $170,000 annually from Newtown Township until the end of 2017, and the State provides the
Newtown Firemans Relief Association with approximately $130,000 annually for their coverage of Newtown Township. In
comparison, the Townships 2016 budget for the Newtown Emergency Services Department was $1,061,273; however, the NFA
provides a majority of the equipment including the fire stations and fire trucks to NESD, while only receiving a small fraction of the
funds the NESD receives. The NESD budget is primarily compromised of salary and benefit costs to the paid daytime firefighters
employed by Newtown Township from 6 AM 6PM, although they operate an NFA fire truck and equipment, and use the NFA
firehouses.
The expenses involved with a firefighting organization such as the NFA are costly. New fire trucks easily exceed $500,000, which does
not even include the cost of the equipment such as hoses, tools, lighting and rescue equipment. The NFA also owns and maintains
two strategically located fire stations, and is responsible for regular maintenance of the roofs, parking lots, HVAC equipment, lighting,
vehicle maintenance and insurance costs.
The money the NFA receives from the Township and State are not enough to pay for the cost of running an exceptional fire company.
We rely heavily on fundraising and donations to make ends meet. For example, the NFA organizes the annual Newtown Beerfest, and
along with the Lingohocken Fire Company receives donations for parking cars at the Middletown Grange Fair. The NFA also has an
annual fund drive to support its operations.
Simply stated, Newtown Township cannot provide the same level of services that the NFA currently provides with their proposed
plan, and the money they intend to withhold from us to divert to their new fire organization barely scrapes the surface of what they
will need to finance such an operation. Unless the Township plans on actively fundraising like the NFA does, they will need to raise
taxes further to cover their operation. We feel it is highly unlikely the financial support the NFA receives from the community to fund
operations would carry over to the proposed new organization that the Township wants to create.
Q. The NFA is a volunteer fire company. Arent most firefighters in the United States paid?
A. The NFA is 100% volunteer. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 69% of the fire companies in the United
States are volunteer, saving taxpayers billions of dollars annually. 85% of the United States population is protected by a volunteer fire
department. Although we are not aware of any similar studies being done in Pennsylvania, a recent study by the Firemans
Association of the State of New York determined that the annual cost of an all all-career department in New York would be $3.87
billion, and there would be an additional $5.95 billion in initial startup costs, resulting in a 3.3 to 123% property tax increase, with an
average increase of 26.5%.
Q. Being a volunteer firefighter must mean the NFA firefighters arent as well trained as a paid firefighter?
A. No, the NFA requires that all its members complete Firefighter I certification, which certifies them as firefighters in the state, as
well as nationally and internationally. This training is over 200 hours long, and additional training such as First Aid and CPR are
required. In addition, a majority of firefighters are trained as vehicle rescue technicians, and receive numerous other national and
international certifications in fire, rescue, hazmat, and EMS disciplines. The NFA conducts weekly training on Wednesdays and select
weekends.
Q. If the Township is proposing this idea, surely it must save the taxpayers money?
A. The Township Manager claims this plan will save taxpayer money. However, as noted above, the upfront costs are substantial, and
added reoccurring costs would also increase. We are unaware how any cost savings would occur, or how any services would be
improved. The most obvious change this proposal provides is a significant reduction in services. The NFA already has a full team of
volunteers, two fire stations, equipment and fire trucks. The Townships proposal attempts, but fails to come close to duplicating the
services and equipment the NFA already provides.
Q. How will this proposed change affect my safety? What would change?
A. The NFA currently operates one Rescue truck, one Ladder truck, and two Engines. The Rescue truck operates at all types of fires
and has specialized equipment to free people from car accidents, to name a few. The Ladder truck is primarily used for search and
rescue within buildings on fire, rescuing people from fires by carrying ladders and cutting equipment, and for cutting open buildings
to access fires. The Ladder truck reaches roofs and windows that most ladders cannot reach. The Engines are used for attacking all
types of fires, from brush, cars, to buildings and homes. The Township proposes ending its relationship with the NFA, and instead
purchasing one used fire truck to cover Newtown. Newtown Townships firefighting fleet would be reduced by 75% (going from four
trucks to just one, used piece of equipment). The next closest Rescue truck to free people from accidents would be from a
surrounding town, such as Wrightstown or Upper Makefield, Yardley or Richboro. The next closest Ladder truck would be coming
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from Yardley, Langhorne or Richboro. If more than one fire call occurs in Newtown at the same time, which is very common in bad
weather, there will be no one available in Newtown to respond like there is now, as the Townships proposed one used engine would
be committed to the other call.
Q. The Township proposes having only one [used] fire truck to serve all of Newtown Township. How many firetrucks is the right
amount to have?
A. Newtown Township paid over $20,000 to hire an independent firm to study the fire services in Newtown in 2011. The State
performs similar studies for free. The study came to the conclusion that the amount of fire trucks currently in place was sufficient. No
reduction in services or apparatus was recommended. These proposed changes by the Township go against the findings of the costly
study they commissioned.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Newtown Township has a population of almost 20,000. It is estimated that there are
almost 7,500 housing units within the Township. This does not even take into account the numerous business and employees
working in Newtown Township. It would be problematic if so many people and businesses would have only one firetruck available for
them when an emergency strikes, and in the event of multiple incidents occurring simultaneously (which is common during bad
weather), there would be no further resources available.
Q. It appears that this proposal by the Township will cost more money, replace something that currently works well, reduce
services, and instead rely more on our surrounding towns to provide coverage?
A. Yes, as crazy as that all sounds, that would be the result of this proposal.
Q. Will this affect the insurance costs I pay on my home or business in Newtown?
A. It is quite possible that this proposed change could increase property insurance costs to those within Newtown Township,
surrounding communities such as Newtown Borough, Wrightstown and Upper Makefield, and perhaps other towns that currently
receive Mutual Aid assistance from the Newtown Fire Association. Many insurance carriers rely on data compiled by the Insurance
Services Office (ISO) to determine the costs of property insurance premiums. Newtown currently has an extremely favorable ISO
rating of 3, and with assistance from the NFA and others, Wrightstown recently had its ISO rating improved to 6 from a rating of 7.
Only 6% of volunteer fire companies in Pennsylvania were able to get an ISO rating as low as Newtowns. ISO looks at many aspects
of the fire services within the towns they rate, including response times, and the number and types of fire equipment responding to
emergencies. The reasoning for this is if a house is on fire, the extent of damage will obviously be worse the longer it takes fire trucks
to get on scene, and if an inadequate amount of fire trucks are at an emergency. As the Townships proposal calls for a reduction in
fire services, including less fire trucks and equipment, less volunteer firefighters, and more reliance on neighboring fire companies
that are further away rather than the strategically located stations the NFA already operates out of, less favorable ISO ratings and
higher insurance costs for property owners not only in Newtown Township, but our surrounding communities is a reasonable
possibility.
This 2010 news article regarding Wrightstowns improved ISO rating that was obtained with some assistance from the NFA provides a
real-life overview of the ISO rating process in our area and the affect it has on insurance premiums.
Q. Im not a firefighter, so put this in perspective to me. I live in the Kirkwood section of Newtown if my house were to catch fire,
who will come?
A. Under the current system in place, a Rescue and Ladder from the NFAs Borough station would respond, as well as one to two
Engines from the NFAs Township station. It is 2.4 miles, or around 6 minutes from the NFAs Borough station, and 5.5 miles, or
around 12 minutes from the NFAs Township station, assuming there is no traffic and good weather. Under the proposed changes, if
relations with the NFA are cut, the closest firetruck would be at least 12 minutes away at the Townships station, resulting in a
doubled response time. A Ladder truck is required on all dwelling fires, and the next closest one would be coming from Yardley.
There would only be one fire engine in Newtown available, unless they are at another call.
Q. I live in Newtown Grant, right across from the Newtown Township building. What would happen if my house were to catch on
fire?
A. Under the current system in place one to two Engines from the NFAs Township station would respond, which is right across the
street from Newtown Grant. A Rescue and Ladder would also respond from the NFAs Borough firehouse. Under the current changes
proposed by the Township, one Engine from the Townships new station would respond from across the street, unless the one
firetruck is at another call, and there would be a significant delay in other needed resources. It is standard to have a Ladder truck
respond on all dwelling fires. If relations are cut with the NFA, the next closest Ladder would be coming from Richboro, PA.
Neighboring Wrightstown and Upper Makefield do not have a Ladder truck.
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Q. I always hear that the intersection at Eagle Rd and Stoopville Road is bad. What if there was a bad accident there when the
new proposal is in place and someone needed to be cut out from the car by the Jaws of Life?
A. Under the current system in place, an Engine from the NFAs Township station would respond, as well as a Rescue from the NFAs
Borough station. A firetruck designated as a Rescue truck, which has all the required tools needed to extricate people from vehicles,
is required on accidents with entrapment. Under the proposed system, if relations are cut with the NFA, an Engine from the
Townships new station would likely arrive to the scene first, but the next closest Rescue truck would be coming from Wycombe, PA,
Upper Makefields Taylorsville Road station, or Richboro.
Q. The Township proposes hiring a paid Deputy Fire Chief- why?
A. The Township manager noted the paid Deputy position would assist with recruitment of new volunteers. It is estimated to cost
$100,000 between salary and benefits. The NFA already has a volunteer Deputy Fire Chief who is highly trained, has vast experience,
and works for free for the NFA. The NFA also already recruits volunteers, for free, and has done so for 127 years. Essentially, the
Deputy Chief position proposed by the Township would cost over $100,000 annually to perform functions the NFA already effectively
does for free. In addition to the $100,000 cost to hire a Deputy Chief, it is likely the new Deputy Chief would need a vehicle to
respond to fire calls, which if purchased new would likely cost at least $40,000, including vehicle costs, installation of communication
radios, vehicle decals, and of course, firefighter turnout gear for the Chief, which could cost thousands. So to answer the question as
to why is this position being proposed we are unsure. Since the NFA currently performs the roles the proposed Deputy would
perform for free, this appears to be the epitome of further wasteful spending of taxpayer money. The upfront cost of hiring a Deputy
Chief in Year 1 could exceed $140,000, including salary, benefits and a vehicle. That is nearly as much as the cost the Township pays
to fund the entire Newtown Fire Association, an entire fire department, annually, yet the Township cites financial savings!
Q. The Township wants community college students to staff their new volunteer fire department. How would that work?
A. This idea may sound innovate in theory, but it is impractical in the short term and long run to rely mainly on college students that
may be in training to do the work of fully trained firefighters. The NFA has already utilized several members taking Fire Science
classes at Bucks County Community College over the years, who were also trained and certified as firefighters with the NFAs support,
but the amount of prospective students that live within Newtown who want to volunteer as firefighters is limited. We currently have
two firefighters that are Fire Science majors at BCCC. Most Fire Science majors want to volunteer in the towns they live in if they are
firefighters, and not many current Fire Students even live in Newtown. Many more are remote students studying online. Not every
Fire Science student is studying to become firefighters, or is certified as firefighters. Community college is a two year institution
these students will have a high turnover after two years, and require extensive training. They would also lack the experience, training
and real life experience of responding to critical incidents that the members of the NFA already have.
Q. What if the Townships radical plan fails?
A. Obviously any failure of their plan would mean that lives and property are placed in further jeopardy, which is a major concern
given the specific changes their proposal contains. However, from simply a financial perspective, the Township would likely need to
hire paid firefighters if their proposed volunteer system fails. The NFA already has a proven track record with their volunteer
firefighters. The Township already uses paid firefighters from the NESD from 6 AM 6 PM to supplement the NFA volunteers at a cost
of over $921,000 a year. If their volunteer system fails and they need to hire paid firefighters 24/7, the current budget for NESD
would easily skyrocket.
Q. Ive never had to call 911 before, so I am not sure how this proposal might affect me if I had to. What exactly does the NFA
currently do?
A. The NFA responds to all types of emergencies involving fires car fires, brush fires, kitchen fires, building fires, house fires, etc. But
fires are just a piece of what the Newtown Fire Association responds to. The NFA responds to accidents with entrapment where
people need to be freed from vehicles, accidents with serious injuries, industrial and domestic accidents, cliff/high angle rescues in
various locations such as Tyler Park and Bucks County Community College), ice/water rescues, and hazardous material incidents. We
are often dispatched to automated fire alarms, gas alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and incidents, gas leaks, electrical fires and
struck pedestrians. We assist the police with lighting accident and crime scenes, gaining entrance to homes for well-being checks,
and searching for missing people. We assist the ambulances with all reported cardiac arrests within Newtown, which has only
increased with the heroin epidemic occurring. We assist homeowners with resetting fire alarms, help homeowners off roofs, and yes,
we have even rescued cats from trees and dogs from burning buildings. This list is certainly not all inclusive.

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Q. Does the NFA provide any other benefit to Newtown other than responding to emergencies?
A. Absolutely. The NFA is extremely community oriented, and provides many events and activities to the public. Many are familiar
with our annual Santa Run every holiday season, and we host a Christmas Tree lighting event and Santa house event in our parking
lot each year. We have many open houses annually including a fire prevention open house, walking history tours, and allow many
organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and area churches to use our property for car washes and other fundraisers. We
are often seen marching at the Memorial Day and Christmas Parades in Newtown. We are also very active on social media and keep
the public informed of all activities.
Q. The Newtown Township Manager has stated to the media, "Do we need all these million-dollar fire trucks" [that the NFA
operates]? What is your response?
A. Although the NFA tries its best to keep all costs down when acquiring a new fire truck, the sad reality is that a fire truck is
extremely expensive. We dont like to spend any money we do not need to, especially as a lot of our money comes from taxpayers
like us, or money we have fundraised. Fire trucks are not mass produced in the quantities that the cars we all drive are. Instead, most
fire trucks are custom built to the needs of the community it serves, and equipment such as hoses, axes, rescue tools, ladders, gas
meter, thermal imager, etc. are not even included with the cost of the vehicle. All of our fire truck purchases are bid out to obtain the
best costs. The NFAs most recent Ladder truck was purchased in 2008 and replaced an ageing 20 year old Ladder truck from 1988.
The total purchase cost between the truck and the sophisticated equipment on it was nearly $1M dollars, which represents an
approximate cost of $40,000 per year for the anticipated 25 year life of the vehicle longer than most cars anyone owns. The Ladder
truck was built to serve Newtowns specific needs. Fire companies require specific vehicles for their jurisdictional needs, just like
neighboring Lingohocken Fire Department recently purchased a fire truck with four wheel drive to serve the rural areas of the
community, Upper Makefield recently purchased a second Tanker truck as their coverage area has no fire hydrants in most areas, and
Yardley recently purchased a second ladder truck due to the size and layout of buildings and homes in their jurisdiction.
For independent reference, the Dover, Delaware Fire Department notes the following on their website: The replacement cost of a
pumper engine comparable to our current equipment is roughly $550,000.00. This doesnt include anywhere from $100,000.00 to
$150,000.00 for equipment to outfit the engine. The replacement cost of a platform aerial (bucket) ladder (truck) comparable to our
current equipment is roughly $930,000.00. A tiller ladder (the one that steers in the rear also) is around $840,000.00. This again
doesnt include anywhere from $150,000.00 to $200,000.00 for equipment to outfit the truck.
Newtown Fire Association has built a fleet of four front line apparatus to serve the community - two Engines at the fire station in
Newtown Township, one of which is used primarily by the Townships paid firefighters to respond to emergencies and conduct
other normal Township job duties and code enforcement/inspections. The other two trucks, a Ladder and pump/rescue combination
truck are at the fire station in Newtown Borough. These trucks were replaced under a long standing, detailed apparatus replacement
program which the Newtown Fire Association has followed for decades. The replacement schedule has been increasing in years
significantly since the last apparatus purchase, pushing this replacement to 25 years. The addition of the 2008 ladder truck, which
replaced a 20 year old truck, has moved up to a 25 year replacement. As for the "million dollar truck", which fully equipped is the
general cost of a modern day ladder truck, the NFA has remained committed to providing this vital fire rescue operation by having
the proper equipment. The building construction, development of the Township, type and style of residential properties, business
and institution growth, having this ladder company function is a key strategy and tactical part of fire rescue operations. The
functional duties and operations of the ladder company are to provide search and rescue of victims, control of hazardous utilities,
ground ladder capabilities, salvage and water damage mitigation and most importantly, ventilation of toxic smoke and gas for the
direct safety of victims and for that of our first in firefighters from our department and Newtown Emergency Services. The ladder
function is a critical life safety component of fire ground operations. We must maintain this function in our community which
Newtown Fire Association has provided since the beginning of the rapid growth of our area.
We also note that the two fire companies the Township has proposed to rely on instead of the NFA, Lingohocken and Upper
Makefield, do not have a Ladder truck.
The Township manager has also noted he intends to purchase a used fire truck at a cost of $248,225 when they end the relationship
with the NFA. We do not know the details regarding this vehicle or if that price includes all the necessary equipment. However, a
used fire engine would obviously have a shorter life than the 25 year cycle we intend our ladder truck to serve, and any savings from
purchasing used would likely be lost due to the shorter life of the vehicle, more frequent replacement cycle, as well as more frequent
and costly maintenance, and the lack of a manufacturers warranty. Any fire truck, whether new or used, needs routine maintenance
and to be placed out of service at times. Since Newtown proposes having only one firetruck under their new plan versus the four the
NFA currently operates, the people and property within Newtown would be without any firetrucks anytime this used firetruck
required even routine maintenance.
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An interesting fact to note is that the NFA sold their 1988 Ladder truck used to a rural fire company in Kentucky when it was replaced
with a 2008 model. Reportedly due to the age of the vehicle, that fire company in Kentucky got less than 8 years of use out of the
Ladder before they decided to purchase a new Ladder this year. Although the $248,225 price tag of a used fire truck presented by
the Township seems more favorable at first rather than paying $600,000+ for a new firetruck, once the used firetruck requires earlier
replacement, the money spent on two used firetrucks in that period would have likely covered the cost of a new truck within that
cycle.
The NFA currently has one 2001 Rescue truck that is nearing the end of its service life, due to rust and mechanical problems that
arise at that age. The NFA had approached the Township manager only a few months ago to see if the Township could offer any
assistance with this major replacement that would be needed, which was entirely rejected. The Township manager noted that no
funds were available from the Township, yet here were are only a few months later and he has proposed what is estimated to be
nearly $1M in wasteful and unnecessary upfront costs on items and services the NFA already has and already provides for a fraction
of the cost.
Q. What is the Townships issue with the NFA? The NFA must not be good at what it is doing?
A. We are uncertain what prompted this proposal by the Township. We have enjoyed a good relationship with the Township for 127
years, and have always had an open dialogue with them. We recently signed a two year fire service agreement with the Township,
and no concerns were raised with our services. We were blind-sided by this decision. The NFA has been very successful with what it
does for the last 127 years, and has met or exceeded all requirements mandated to them by Newtown Township, including staffing,
training, and response times. We have always played by all the Townships rules and requirements mandated by us as a part of the
Fire Service Agreement. Kurt Ferguson, the Township Manager, has noted in all recent reports to the media that he has no issue with
how the NFA has done things. An employee of the Townships Newtown Emergency Services Department is also a (volunteer) Trustee
for the NFA, which has helped to further create a solid partnership between the NFA and NESD and Newtown Township regular
business, facility issues, and maintenance and spending decisions.

Q. The NFA has been a part of the community for 127 years. Does that suggest they are outdated?
A. The NFA has in fact been a part of the Newtown community for over 127 years. Although an established organization, we have
always adapted and grown to meet the needs of our changing community. When we first started fighting fires in 1889, Grover
Cleveland was President of the United States, and we were alerted to fires by sirens and bells throughout the community, and used
horses pulling carriages and used buckets filled with water to fight fires. Obviously those days are far behind us, but the same
concept is employed through state-of-the-art firefighting equipment and technology. Firefighters at the NFA today are dispatched by
Bucks County through pagers and text messages to their cell phones, so they can respond quickly with the NFAs modern firefighting
and rescue equipment.
The NFA has always been on the frontline of innovation. We are the longest serving volunteer fire company in Bucks County. It is
believed that we were the first fire department within Bucks County to use radios to communicate on the fire ground, the first fire
company in Bucks County to use the now popular Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) for fighting fire, and were regional leaders
providing fire and rescue services to our neighboring towns before many of them even had fire companies established. In 1996, due
to limitations of the NFAs volunteer firefighters during the daytime when they were at their full time jobs, the NFA partnered with
Newtown Township to establish the Newtown Emergency Services Department (NESD), which later provided paid firefighters to
supplement NFAs volunteers from 6 AM to 6 PM during weekdays. Newtown was the first community in Bucks County to have paid
firefighters, through NESD. We were one of the first Bucks County fire companies to have a website to keep the public informed of
our activities, and was the first emergency service organization in Bucks County to connect with the public through Facebook. The
NFA was also one of the first departments in Bucks County to have, and continues to have, a Junior Firefighting program, which trains
16-17 year old high school boys and girls so that they can become active firefighters with us in the future.
The Townships proposal disregards the NFAs 127 years of service and experience, and initiates a plan that takes the fire services of
Newtown back in history.

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Q. Who oversees the money that the NFA receives, from the Township, State, and from donations and fundraisers?
A. The NFAs own volunteer administration creates and maintains the budget, purchases and maintains all equipment, and maintains
the firehouses. All of our funds and transactions are audited by a third party auditor the same auditor used by Newtown Township.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also regularly audits the use of the funds they provide us with, and any equipment purchased
with State funds.

Q. Is there a petition that I can sign to oppose this change?


A. Yes, someone in Newtown Township already started a petition on Change.org. In just a few days it has obtained the signatures of
over 250 people. Please click here to view the petition.

Q. What are the people of Newtown saying about this idea?


A. On the petitions website noted above, the opposition to the changes have been overwhelming. Below are some recent comments
people have made:

I am not seeing the financial benefit of starting an entirely new fire company when there is an already established company
that has been serving this community for 125 years. Let's focus tax dollars on fixing real problems rather than projects like
this that have no merit.
I'm signing this not only as a former member of the Newtown Fire Association, but as someone who has experienced a
house fire. In 2014 on July 27th my house was struck by lightning at 11:45 p.m. And these great men and women
responded to it in a matter of minutes and had the fire under control very quickly. If we didn't have the Newtown Fire
Association who would have known how long it would have taken. We all see how poorly the township is run as it is and I
can't even begin to imagine them running a fire company without the help of the Newtown Fire Association. It would not be
good for the residents of Newtown I can assure you that.
Proposing to raise taxes in order to close the Newtown Fire Association so that a new one can be opened is completely
irresponsible and wasteful of tax payers money. The NFA has successfully served our community for over 125 years. There is
absolutely no need to shut it down
Former employee of Newtown Township and resident of Bucks County. This request by the township is negligent and
creates a safety hazard for residents.
This is crazy what they want to do to the fire department!
The agreement with NFA has been serving Newtown Township well for many years. The support premise the Township
Manager is basing his position on is flawed; that money coming to Newtown Township from the state would fund the
operation. This is not a firm commitment by the state, forever. However, cutting ties, setting up a full time paid position
which will have - over time - built in wage increases and insurance cost increases, and duplicating infrastructure costs for a
finite area well served by the existing support group, and assuming that there is an available pool of healthy volunteers
excited to jump in their cars and race off to risk their lives and fight a fire in the middle of the night is a losing strategy at
best and a huge financial and security risk at worst. I would also ask if the likely hire for the paid position has already been
chosen, and if so, what relationship they may have to the hiring authority... this whole thing seems to stink to high heaven.

Q. What can I do to fight the changes proposed by the Township?


A. The members of the NFA thank you for your support, and urge all concerned members of the public to join us in fighting these
changes that will reduce the fire services provided to the Newtown community, and result in wasteful and unnecessary spending of
taxpayer money. These proposed changes would not take place until 2018, however there is only a few weeks before this proposal
would be voted on and approved by the Board of Supervisors. The fact that no Supervisors questioned these proposed changes at
the budget proposal meeting is a telling sign that many may support this measure. You have a right as a taxpayer to fight for your
safety and avoid increased taxes and wasteful government spending. We ask that you please keep any opposition to the Townships
proposal professional and courteous.

Page 8 of 9

We invite you to reach out to the individual proposing this idea, Kurt Ferguson, Newtown Townships Manager. Tell him how you
stand with the NFA and are concerned about the impact this will have on safety:
Kurt Ferguson
Newtown Township Administrative Offices
100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Phone: 215-968-2800 ex. 250
Email. kurtf@twp.newtown.pa.us
Telling the Township Manager that you oppose this idea is just the beginning the elected Supervisors who appoint the Township
manager, and vote on this matter need to hear your concerns. We invite you to reach out to the Newtown Township Board of
Supervisors who will be voting on this measure:

Kyle Davis, Chairman of the Board


100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Email: kyled@newtownpa.gov
Ryan W. Gallagher, Vice Chairman*
100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Email: ryang@newtownpa.gov
*Note that Mr. Gallagher has publicly opposed this proposed
change

Page 9 of 9

Gerry Couch, Secretary/Assistant Treasurer


100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Email: gerryc@newtownpa.gov
Philip Calabro, Member
100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Email: philc@newtownpa.gov
Jennifer Dix, Member
100 Municipal Drive
Newtown, PA 18940
Email: jend@newtownpa.gov