Fire Company Support Must Grow in Changing Times
Twenty-three years ago, $13,000 was all the annual operational support the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association needed from the Borough of Swarthmore. Today, that need has ballooned to $240,000. The reason? Payroll expense.
In 1996, the Association was an all-volunteer company with more than 100 volunteer members and no employees. Sadly, we are no longer living in those times. The near death of volunteerism in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s emergency services has necessitated hiring more than 25 part-time employees in order to properly protect Swarthmore. In 2019, our estimated annual payroll expense will be over $550,000! Even with the Borough’s generous financial support, we are still dependent on ambulance billing receipts, Federal and state grants, Christmas tree sales and our annual fund drive in order to break even.
For some unexplained reason, our 2019 annual fund drive is 31% below last year’s drive. As noted below, only a minority of the people we protect actually contribute to the fire company. While this may be due to the mistaken belief that our Borough property taxes pay for your emergency service protection, as noted above, nothing could be further from the truth.
Here is the reality: only 26% of homeowners in Swarthmore have contributed to our fund drive for this year. Shockingly, only 5% of apartment residents have given, 18% of nonresident owners, and just 13% of the borough’s businesses. We must do better, across the board. A properly funded fire company is essential to the safety of the town we love.
If you have not already done so, please consider giving. You can mail your check to Swarthmore Fire Company, P.O. Box 261, Swarthmore, PA 19081 or go to our website (www.swarthmorefd.org) and click on the Donate to the Fire Department link. Thank you for your support!
Bob Hayden is Treasurer of the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association.