Berlin Fire Company Requesting $786K From Town

BERLIN – The Berlin Fire Company outlined equipment needs, proposed building repairs and various other requests during a budget presentation this week.

David Fitzgerald, president of the Berlin Fire Company (BFC) presented the proposed budget to the Berlin Town Council Monday. The town is in the process of developing its budget for the coming fiscal year.

The BFC is seeking $410,000 for fire company operations and $376,773 for EMS operations. Fitzgerald said that though funding from the county had increased in recent years, donations had decreased.

“We feel that’s just due to most people feel the service is covered under the tax base,” he said.

The BFC has eight full-time paramedics and four full-time EMTs. Fitzgerald said that while he’d like to have more, salaries were expensive.

“We feel our staffing should be higher but we’re trying to be financially prudent,” he said.

He told the council one of the BFC’s three ambulances was also due for replacement.

“That’s not always due to mileage,” he said. “It’s due to safety things.”

Expenses are projected to increase in a variety of areas for fire operations. Utilities and building maintenance are expected to cost more in the coming year, along with vehicle maintenance, fuel, fire supplies, gym memberships and equipment repair. Fitzgerald said the BFC was seeking $3,000 for fire prevention, so representatives could provide giveaways to local children during fire safety demonstrations.

“They listen to the presentation more if they have something to take home,” he said.

Fitzgerald also told the council the BFC needed to purchase new reflective vests for its fire police. The company’s proposed budget also includes $42,000 for volunteer incentives.

“It’s much cheaper than hiring people,” Fitzgerald said.

He also outlined building repairs needed at the Main Street station, which was built in 1965. He said the boiler needed repairs as did the roof. Adjustments are also required in the station’s entryway.

“That leaks like a sieve,” he said.

Monday’s budget presentation comes just weeks after a funding study by Matrix Consulting put forth a variety of recommendations for the BFC. Mayor Gee Williams acknowledged the study after Fitzgerald’s presentation. He pointed out that while 11 of the recommendations related to fire company operations, 17 of them related to the company’s relationship with the Town of Berlin. He said town officials were particularly interested in implementing the recommendations that related to finances.

“What we’re trying to do is get everything in line so we’re all working according to the same accounting standards and financial management standards so it’s easier for both parties…,” he said. “I know that wasn’t necessary years ago but then as the figures show the amount to provide these services is significantly higher than it was 20, 25 years ago.”

Williams said that while changes wouldn’t happen overnight the town was eager to move forward.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.