Area Departments to Cover Area of Fire Department that Quit

WINDHAM -- The Bradford County Department of Emergency Services announced Tuesday that it has taken measures to ensure the people of Windham Township will have "some level" of fire protection after the Windham Volunteer Fire Company moved out of the fire hall and the township Monday night.

On the same day Windham Township Supervisor Chairman Charles Davis said the supervisors still do not know what they will do about fire coverage in the township and are currently consulting their solicitor on the situation.

Davis said the situation was "rather fluid" and that he didn't really have anything else to say about it at this time, but he did say he felt the fire company "did not bargain in good faith."

The supervisor chairman said he felt the fire company members had attended a meeting between the company and the supervisors last week to discuss the issue, intending all along to move out of the fire hall.

He added that by the end of Monday's regular township meeting he felt that an agreement had been made in good faith to start negotiations again.

During this week's meeting, Davis and supervisor Ed Kaminsky asked fire company members if they wanted Dean Fernsler of the Department of Community and Economic Development to attend a negotiating session between the two parties.

Fire company members said they would like to have Fernsler at any session between the two groups and Davis said he would contact Fernsler to see if he could come. He also said a decision would need to be made on when the meeting should be set up and fire company members said they felt the sooner the meeting was, the better.

The decision for the fire company to move all of its equipment out of the fire hall came after the township meeting had adjourned.

It was announced in a press release issued by the county Department of Emergency Services on Tuesday that emergencies within Windham Township will be attended to either by the Windham Township Volunteer Fire Department, even if it is no longer in a building, or by neighboring fire departments.

For all structure fires within Windham Township, four fire departments will be dispatched, including Windham Township for potential support.

Other fire departments that will be dispatched include Rome, Litchfield and Warren Township.

For non-structure fires, such as vehicle fires and brush fires, and trees/wire down, the Windham Fire Department and the nearest mutual-aid fire company will be dispatched.

The Department of Emergency Services said that for motor-vehicle accidents, the Windham Fire Department, Rome Fire Department and the nearest mutual-aid department will be dispatched, unless Rome is already the closest.

One fire department that will not be dispatched to any incidents in Windham Township is the Nichols, N.Y., fire department. According to officials in the county, New York state laws do not allow New York fire departments to be dispatched for any calls in another state, but mutual aid can be requested by a Pennsylvania fire company.

"These procedures will remain in effect until further guidance is available from the Windham Township supervisors," the release from the Department of Emergency Services said.

When asked Monday night what he and the volunteer firefighters would do if a call went out in their area, Windham Township fire chief Doug Soden paused for a moment, shook his head, and he said he wasn't sure.