A review of financial matters between the Glade Township Supervisors and the Glade Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday night morphed into a broader discussion of the state of the department.
Mike Noe, who has recently taken over as chief, told the supervisors, "My hope is to get more of the management involved in the communities...more dialogue between management and membership so everybody is on the same page."
The supervisors had a host of questions about the operations the department is involved in, mostly about the water rescue team.
"Are we helping enough municipalities?" Supervisor Chairman Dave Sedon asked.
"We've been on the water five times for true rescues" this year, Noe said, indicating that number is high compared to previous years. "We utilize it and the townships that support it see that support," he said.
Sedon said Mead Township and Clarendon Borough both give $500 in support of the Glade Water Rescue Team.
"We are the first water rescue for the entire (Allegheny) reservoir," he added, indicating that, while the Forest Service has its own boat, Glade has brought Allegheny National Forest law enforcement officers onto its boat during operations. "Our boat is available to them for their operations," he added.
While all of the incidents the water rescue team has responded to are in Mead Township, Noe explained that Clarendon, as well as Corydon Township and Ludlow in McKean County, do not have water rescue teams.
"We've started a specialty that no one else has the ability to provide," he said.
But it isn't just a one-sided operation.
"If you want to look at it from what they give us, Corydon has a search team. Ludlow has two of the largest tankers in the task force. What we give them in rescue we get back in fire suppression or search capabilities," Noe said.
He explained that there has been an on-going effort to share resources and specialties. "It's a well-oiled machine," Noe added. "We work well together. It's working very well."
Township Vice Chairman Joe Scully asked whether there have been members of other fire departments trying to join Glade's water team.
"Yes," Noe replied. "(It) stems back to the Northwest response group" that has "been supplying us with money to outfit our personnel, equip our personnel. The boat is theirs. The rescue trailer is theirs.
"They want to set up one specialty in each county (such as water rescue, rescue and hazmat)," Noe explained. "They're helping to fund that to help support major incidents in Warren County, the five surrounding counties...so that these resources benefit us locally" but can also be shared across the Commonwealth and the nation.
"Their plan is, 'If we give you this funding, we want to see you train people outside your department to work within your department,'" he added. "Not all want to do fire, water or rescue. (This) give(s) them the opportunity to go somewhere else. Cherry Grove has a dog team. Youngsville has a rehab team."
That approach, Noe said, helps "to put bodies out there where they want to be, keeping them engaged and active."
"Volunteers being an issue, that's a really good approach," Supervisor Bryan Drescher said.
"Sometimes fire department's hinder people," Noe said. "We're taking the view (that) we want you to go to that other department" if there is a specialty that is appealing.
"How will that affect workmen's comp?" Scully asked.
"The members that are coming to Glade, we make them members of our department. We give them the ability to be notified when the water rescue has a call-out, that way they can be covered on a response," Noe said. "Some home departments have offered to cover them on their deployments or responses with Glade."
Noe explained that the state does not want people to be members of two fire suppression departments, but does not oppose one leaving a department to join another department's specialty, or technical side. Since Glade does not have an ambulance, "Glade allows our members to go to departments with an ambulance," Noe said. "All the members that we have taken in on our technical side, the departments have been all for it."
The supervisors also asked about the purchase of a new truck with a plow by the department.
"The vehicle has been purchased. It is being prepped for delivery," Noe explained, indicating that it will be used primarily as a "people mover" to training events and incidents so individuals do not have to use their own vehicles.
"We're not endangering their personal vehicles to go to incidents," he said. "The plow is to assist us at" the fire stations "and push back some of the snow at station one. He also explained that a plow would be helpful is gaining access to some incidents. "We don't want people using their vehicles as much as possible."