The Florence Township Fire Department is a combination department. That means it is made of up paid firefighters and volunteer fire fighters. Over several decades the level of volunteerism has dramatically dropped in the nation and here in Florence. We now have a total of seven career firefighters, one career fire marshal, one career EMS Chief and one career administrator. We have nine volunteers that dedicate as much time as possible. Sadly, this isn’t enough as several calls here in Florence were answered with less than 3 on the truck, making it dangerous for the residents and the firefighters. Many calls on the Turnpike and 295 go unanswered by us, as the minimum staffing to respond to closed highway systems is 3.
Our current operating conditions: Monday through Friday 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM we have 3 firefighters on duty. After 3 PM Monday through Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday we have 2 firefighters on duty. We hope there is a volunteer or two around.
We also staff our ambulance with only per diem EMT’s and we have been doing this since 2006. Unfortunately, the number of people going into the EMS field has dropped and many of our per diem EMT’s are working at 2 or 3 other EMS agencies. In this budget we have provisions for hiring 4 full-time EMT’s.
This is where we need your help!
We have done our due diligence to create a fiscally responsible budget. The new projected tax rate for the 2023 budget, if passed will be .26 per hundred. So, if you have a house valued at 100,000 you will have an increase of $67.40 annually (an increase of $16.85 per quarter, $5.61 per month). Homeowners accessed at a value of $200,000 will have a $134.80 annual increase ($33.70 per quarter, $11.23 per month). Homeowners accessed at 300,000 will have an annual increase of $202.20 ($50.55 per quarter, $16.85 per month). So, for the average home of Florence Township of $237,000, the cost of guaranteeing a fully staffed fire truck and ambulance is an additional $1.69 dollars a day.
Believe it or not, we are one of the very few fire districts that also fund an EMS Division. Many communities that neighbor us, which have a fire tax, only provide fire protection and suppression.
If both questions pass, this is what will happen:
• Will allow us to promote a company officer for each shift to meet the requirements of NJAC 5:75 and NFPA 1720.
• Hiring 4 fire fighters to guarantee a response crew of three personnel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
• Hiring 4 Full Time EMT’s to minimize the use of per diems.
• Replacing aging hydraulic tools that were bought in 2006 and don’t meet the needs of today with all the new vehicle technologies.
• Purchase a new command/staff vehicle. The Fire district has not purchased a new command/staff vehicle since 2009.
• Like many of you, we have higher fuel costs, insurance, utilities, and employee’s benefits.
If you have any questions or concerns you may reach out to Administrator Robert Tharp at 609-499-6008 or email@example.com