By Karen Blackledge
The Danville News
VALLEY TWP. — A Valley Township resident is concerned about the number of volunteers, training and response time of township firefighters.
“I feel the township supervisors need to take a look at this,” Jerry Buckley told the township supervisors Wednesday night.
A member of the Danville Fire Department for nearly 40 years, Buckley said the Danville department is well-trained, has excellent apparatus and good response times.
He said he heard a rumor Valley Township Fire Chief Mike Kull said he wasn’t going to call the Danville department for assistance. “I’m concerned as a taxpayer,” Buckley said.
Kull said he had heard that same rumor and it isn’t true. “I will call whoever I need when I need them. If I need Danville, I will call them,” he said.
“We want to provide the best service we can,” he said.
Kull said the township fire department’s box alarm system hasn’t been changed in 25 years and the only time Mahoning Township’s fire company is summoned before the Danville department is when a vehicle accident occurs. “That’s the way it’s always been,” Kull said.
“It’s not that we don’t call Danville. Danville borough is the first alarm everywhere except the back side of the Washingtonville hill — that would be Washingtonville,” Kull said of the Washingtonville Fire Company.
“You can’t run with two people. I ran with Merck my whole life. I have inspected trucks and have a lot of training — old training because I’m 60 years old,” Buckley said. “I ran to accidents for 17 years. I know the way things should operate and the same with fires,” said Buckley, who has visited New York City fire departments twice.
Kull said his department hasn’t had the opportunity to work much with the Danville department because fortunately there haven’t been a lot of structure fires in the township.
In discussing a school bus accident on Klein Road in Valley Township, Kull said the Valley and Liberty township fire companies responded along with numerous ambulances. Kull said they were told “everybody was off the bus and standing in the road.”
As for manpower responding to a call, he said it depends upon the time of day and who is working at the time.
He said fire companies in northern Montour County, Liberty and Valley townships all have low manpower. “It will come to a point that something will have to change but we’re not at that point now,” he said.
Supervisors’ Vice Chairman Walt Rupert said the township should be pro-active in that case. ‘”We are making good steps here. We are heading in the right direction,” Rupert said of the township fire company.
“Our guys have quite a bit of training,” Kull said.
At one time, Danville provided protection to Valley Township.
Kull said the township fire company mails about 1,100 requests for donations to Valley Township residents and to most residents of West Hemlock Township every year. Included in the brochure is information about volunteering as a firefighter where recipients are invited to come to Valley Township training Thursday nights. “I have yet to have a single person respond,” he said of the mailing.
Kull said they have more manpower than compared to two or three years ago. “We’re holding steady,” he said. The company now includes a woman member.
“I thank God for the people we have who do an excellent job,” said resident John Fenstermacher.
Kull said the township company responded to 16 alarms in January and alarms for February already total 25.