A project to help volunteer fire departments throughout Warren County enhance their communication and public relations skills is coming to fruition.
The Fire Services Committee of the Warren County Council of Governments has embarked on a internet/intranet project that will allow the departments to more effectively communicate and "to reach the community and the young people who we hope can participate in the future," said committee chairman Paul Pascuzzi to the COG on Wednesday night.
Pascuzzi explained that $67,000 was allotted as the budgeted amount of the project, to be funded through public and private partnerships. Of that total, $30,000 has already been raised thanks to $10,000 each from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the Community Foundation of Warren County and the Jefferson DeFrees Foundation.
"We now have half our funds in the last four months," Pascuzzi said, informing the COG that a RFQ (request for quotation) has been issued, seeking "professional service providers" to design and build the site.
Pascuzzi said that the deadline for RFQ proposal submissions is the end of November.
While the project isn't completely funded yet, Alan Kugler of PA Futures, who serves as a consultant to the COG, said the committee can approach the DeFrees Foundation again "in the early part of next year" to seek additional funding.
The same goes for DCED. "We are going to go back to the state of Pennsylvania because they said 'come back,'" Pascuzzi said.
The need to address volunteer fire services in the county goes back to 2009 when COG created a subcommittee to address the declining number of volunteers throughout the county.
The funds will kick-start the project to create the collaborative network website of volunteer fire departments, hosted on the county level, to let the community know about the services provided and how the public can support the departments through fund-raising events.
"The collaborative network is something we are going to build, and train our firefighters to use this as a tool to reach out to the community," Pascuzzi said in July. "That's our vision, we're hoping that will help."