LACKAWAXEN TWP. - First responders who live in or adjacent to Lackawaxen Township will now be recognized monetarily, for their volunteerism towards the township.
At a hearing last month, Lackawaxen Township Solicitor Tom Farley explained that through Ordinance 110, a “benefit” will be provided to the volunteers in the amount of $250 a year, conditioned upon the individual serving at least 30 percent at certain activities that include: 30 percent of nonemergency activities or 30 percent of their time at administrative and or other support services totaling 30 percent.
The individual is allowed to do one activity to cover the 30 percent or they can split their time and do 10 percent of each activity. But, Farley said the total must be 30 percent, which will be confirmed by the chief of the company.
Farley said the ordinance is an “incentive” for those who volunteer for the “benefit of this township.” Members of the fire commission and the fire companies had input in the creation of the ordinance.
Based on conversations the board had with the departments, Supervisor Chairman Michael Mancino said about 45 volunteers will receive the incentive, that includes 10 firefighters from the Central Fire Department, 10 volunteers from Greeley Fire Department, 10 from Lackawaxen Fire Department and 15 from the Forest Fire Department.
Volunteers eligible for the benefit will include firefighters to members of the auxiliary who live in Lackawxen Township, but volunteer at a department in say Berlin or Damascus Townships. The “key,” Farley said is that the fire department serves Lackawaxen Township. At some point, Mancino said there will be an informational course on how to keep records.
The funds for the ordinance will come from Lackawaxen Township’s budget Mancino said. The department’s chiefs will keep records to confirm the individuals do at least 30 percent every year. And it was the chiefs who noted that volunteers include more than those fighting fires, because there are many who volunteer behind the scenes.
A Lackawaxen resident, Marge Wassmer asked if such an ordinance is “opening a can of worms?” She went on to say how many people volunteer like herself who volunteer would never ask for such a thing. To which another township resident Carol Petri said the volunteers are “endangering their own lives” and in her community “volunteerism is dying.”
The money being an incentive, Supervisor Jeff Shook said is the “whole idea” to possibly keep the present volunteers and maybe attract more.
John Kerkowski who is a member of the township’s fire commission, said the cost of a paid department would be more than everything volunteers are presently paid. As well, Mancino said it is a “nice recognition.”
Bergit Pinkston however, who volunteers with the women’s auxiliary said she doesn’t believe members of the auxiliary should receive the benefit, just the firefighters. Mancino responded that the chiefs of the departments felt that not including the auxiliary would “take away from the efforts” of everyone who aren’t on the front line, because they look at everyone as equals.
The ordinance, Mancino said breaks down the volunteer’s efforts and participation so the benefit is not a “blanket $250” for everyone. Instead, people must participate, not just be a name.
The next Lackawaxen Township supervisors’ meeting will be Monday, October 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the township offices on Urban Road.