CARLISLE TWP. — Within days, Carlisle Township will lose one of its full-time firefighters due to budget constraints.
The department, which is largely made up of on-call volunteer firefighters, has long staffed the station 24-hours a day with one of four full-time firefighters. However, the impeding layoff essentially will cut the full-time firefighters employed by the township by 25 percent.
Township Trustee Berry Taylor said the economics of the township was the driving factor that went into the decision. The Road Department, for instance, has had an open position for the past few years and another worker there was recently laid off as well.
“We have cut the Road Department. They had five guys and now they are down to three,” Taylor said. “We laid-off the zoning inspector, discontinued leaf collection and closed the recycling center. We are going to be $200,000 in the hole if we don’t do something. This is something we should have done a year ago, but we hoped things would get better.”
Taylor said the firefighter will leave the first of December, in time to impact the 2012 budget. With pay and benefits, the savings is estimated to be roughly $80,000.
“It’s tough to tell someone they are losing their job right around the holidays, but we need to start saving money for next year,” he said.
Fire Chief Kevin Dembiec said residents should not see a change or see an increase in response times.
“It is always a possibility, but right now things will still operate pretty near normal,” he said. “It is just that now there is no cushion. All it takes is one thing like a flu epidemic where you have so many people out that you don’t have anyone to call in. Then, you will have to make alternative plans.”
Dembiec explained that the firefighter who will lose his job is the floating firefighter who covers shifts when other full-time firefighters are on vacation, out for a holiday, sick and in training.
“Carlisle Township has always been one of those departments that have kept a person on station at all times. We were one of the most progressive departments around,” he said. “Unfortunately, economics have caught up with us.”
Dembiec said on-call volunteer firefighters will be used to cover any open shifts, and in the event that they can’t, he will.
“I am a working chief, not an administrative one,” he said. “We train as a team and we work as a team. As people come to the scene, I will be able to step back and go into command mode.”
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or email@example.com.