Perry County fire department gets help for new facility, equipment upgrades

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Pa. (WHTM) – The New Bloomfield Volunteer Fire Company has been in talks with Centre Township Supervisors for nearly two years about finding ways to fund a new building, purchase fire apparatus, and replace outdated equipment.

The fire department proposed increasing the millage rate over a four-year period or maintaining the current millage rate and having the township reserve money for upgrades.

Tuesday night, most residents who spoke at a meeting were in favor of the increase. A few suggested looking at other options that included leasing equipment from the state and forming a regional fire department.

New Bloomfield Fire Chief Mitch Robb says keeping the department in the region is the best option.

“We are a big part of the community,” Robb said. “We want to be able to serve and not have people wait 15 minutes for help to arrive.”

In a surprise move, the supervisors voted in favor of increasing the millage rate from .4 mill to .7 mill beginning in 2018.

Justin Kretzing, president of the New Bloomfield Volunteer Fire Company, said he was not expecting a vote, but he says the supervisors sent a message.

“This was a great way for a community to come together,” Kretzing said, “compromise from two sides, from the township side and the fire company side.”

Kretzing says the vote allows them to be in an aggressive planning phase. He said the additional revenue will allow the department to begin building a new fire house and purchase equipment and fire apparatus.

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