South Williamsport Borough Council on Monday approved a $1,000-a-month stipend for South Williamsport Fire Department Chief Tyler Dickson.
In a question from Councilman Cory Lehman about whether the $1,000 will make a difference, Dickson said he puts in 40 hours a week for the fire department who recently asked the Williamsport Bureau of Fire to help by responding with the South Williamsport Fire Department to fire and emergency management. calls due to a lack of manpower and a dire situation to maintain service for all calls.
The Council then canceled $80,000 of US bailout funds previously considered to be allocated to the South Williamsport Fire Department.
“How will this (the $1,000/month stipend) change the department from where it is now?” asked Lehman.
Chief Dixson represents any existing connection to replenish the fire department, said Steven W. Cappelli, Borough Superintendent and Director of Public Safety for the Borough.
“I respect him, admire him and trust him,” said Capelli. “He deserves some level of compensation.”
Dickson said he was being transparent with the community and added that if these emergency measures to have the city’s firefighters respond within the existing mutual aid agreement are not taken, there will be no South Williamsport Fire Department in three to six months.
“Williamsport Bureau of Fire did not seek compensation”, Dickson said.
City Fire Chief Sam Aungst’s office was approached and the city agreed to help for 90 days. Dickson said. The city’s response will provide the bridge needed during what firefighters consider a dire situation.
Other arrangements are being considered, such as paid emergency medical technicians from UPMC Susquehanna’s regional EMS, Dickson said.
Borough Mayor Marlin Angelo asked Dickson if he was actively recruiting fire department members.
Dickson said he was and his priority was getting the trucks out and making sure citizens are protected while working on recruitment and retention.
Ideas are being discussed to incentivize members with fee-based compensation such as $20 per call.
It was the first time the council had heard of the details emerging as the department seeks to rebuild itself over the next three months and perhaps move closer to an alliance similar to the one the town has with Old Lycoming Township. , said Cappelli.
It’s a dire situation that requires ongoing meetings with fire department officials and attorneys, Cappelli said.
He said he planned to hold a meeting this week with the fire department.
To help with transparency going forward, the Council has appointed Councilor Tim Pregent to be the Council’s representative on the South Williamsport Fire Department Board of Directors.
The Council authorized the Public Service Commission to carry out a new test for a hiring list.
Two new automated automatic defibrillators for use in the Borough Office and Public Works Department building have been received from UPMC Susquehanna Regional EMS. They come with a Stop the Bleed kit.
Borough staff training will be provided by Dickson. Vice-chairman Casey Lowmiller has been instrumental in helping the borough obtain life-saving equipment.