In December of 2018, Upper Merion Township welcomed six career firefighters to the recently established Fire & EMS arm of the Public Safety Department. The Class 18-01 Firefighter Recruit Academy was the first academy class of career firefighters in Upper Merion Township history, and represents a change in what was previously an entirely volunteer firefighter force. Upper Merion Township is fortunate to be served by so many dedicated volunteers in our community. As is becoming the case in surrounding areas, however, daytime calls became harder to staff, as many volunteers are employed outside the township and not readily available for fire calls during normal business hours. The shift to a combination department was crucial as the township continues to provide the best service to residents and visitors 24/7, 365, and has ultimately been an enormous success to supplement the Volunteer Response System.
“The members of Upper Merion Township Fire & EMS are very pleased to supplement all three of our outstanding volunteer fire companies, as well as Lafayette Ambulance and Rescue Squad. Our new firefighters are responding to an average of about seven emergency calls each weekday, at a time when our volunteer members may not be as available to respond to calls. Upper Merion is building a great public safety team under the guidance and leadership of our Public Safety Director, Chief Thomas Nolan.”
– Dennis Rubin, Chief of Fire & EMS
To kick off their careers in Upper Merion, the new firefighters participated in a six-week regimented training program, which included Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), Firefighter Safety & Survival, Structural Fire Operations, HAZMAT Awareness, Public Fire Education, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) and Traffic Incident Management, among several other key components of fire safety, designed to push individuals and teams to learn how to handle dynamic fire situations with confidence.
The Upper Merion Fire & EMS Department will soon be taking over the rental property inspection program for the township. All buildings, hotels, and motels common areas will receive an annual fire safety inspection. We will also be inspecting vacant apartments during changeover periods. The purpose of this process is to remove all potential fire and injury related hazards from the occupancy, making our community a safer place to live, work and play. Currently, the township contracts with an outside consulting firm to provide this service. With the addition of six new firefighters, this service will be handled internally at a cost savings to our taxpayers. All of our career firefighters are scheduled to be certified as Fire Inspectors in April with the brand new program kicking off in May of 2019. Educational programs are in the planning phase to explain these changes to the apartment/hotel/motel/apartment owners and managers in the very near future. The vision is to seek a safer community in the most efficient way possible by using internal resources.
The career staff has been operating out of the King Of Prussia Fire Company, Monday through Friday, 6:00AM to 6:00PM. Their primary responsibility is the safety and security of Upper Merion residents and visitors, as well as bolstering daytime support for the dedicated volunteer firefighters. When not engaged in active fire calls, some of their additional support functions will include smoke alarm installation and public fire education. We welcome you to say hi to any of our emergency responders when you see them around the community!