6 volunteer fire companies in Bensalem to consolidate, here's why

Big public safety changes are happening in Bucks County’s largest community as all six volunteer fire companies in Bensalem are being consolidated. 

It took two years in the making to bring six separate legacy volunteer fire companies together under one organization in one municipality. 

The give and take was necessary given the dwindling numbers of volunteer firefighters as they need to maintain quick responses. 

In a show of solidarity, members of the six legacy fire companies in Bensalem Township attended a meeting in council chambers Monday night. 

"We’re going from six independent separate companies to one unified company with one set of leadership, one set of operational procedures, to make us more efficient volunteer fire service," said William McVey, Director of Bensalem Public Safety. 

One of the primary reasons for the consolidation effort was the drastic decline in the number of volunteer firefighters across the country and the commonwealth.

Bensalem Township with its 22 square miles and 70,000 residents needed to make a change. 

"The significant decline in the number of volunteer firefighters, the inability to staff each of the fire houses, but most importantly the need to ensure effective fire response and respond to all emergencies," said McVey. 

Chief Ron Harris was in charge of the Nottingham company and is now deputy chief of the new Bensalem volunteer fire department. 

"Depending on the type of call, sometimes all six of us were going and most of the time each company could only get one truck out," said Chief Harris. 

Over the last two years, a committee worked to hash out the plan. Volunteers voted 156-6 in favor of it.

Members recognized that consolidation was the only way to continue.

"This couldn’t have been done without all the volunteers and all of them truly coming together," said Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo.

Sharing services or consolidating when each of the six companies had their own long-standing identity wasn’t a simple task, but officials are thanking the volunteers for taking important steps that will be better for outcomes when time is critical for emergency fire services.