UPPER MERION >> Upper Merion Township will be moving toward a singular unified Department of Public Safety that will include the police, the three volunteer fire companies and Lafayette Ambulance. Tom Nolan, the current Chief of Police, will oversee the new department as the Director of Public Safety/Chief of Police, effective Jan. 1, 2018. The Department of Public Safety will also include a Fire/EMS Chief to help integrate the individual fire and rescue operations into a unified organization with a township-wide focus.
In 2016, the township commissioned an independent Fire Services Strategic Implementation Plan to take a comprehensive look at how the township approaches the delivery of fire and rescue services. In Upper Merion, four individual organizations provide fire and emergency medical services. The findings of this study demonstrated a clear need for a singular and unified direction, coordination and oversight of all fire and rescue services operations, in order to improve efficiency and effectively respond to all emergencies.
“With fewer fires due to improved building codes and better alarm systems, times are changing the ways in which we respond to emergencies in Upper Merion,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Bill Jenaway. “A consolidated fire and rescue division will ensure the utmost efficiency when dispatching personnel, whether it is for a medical emergency or a working fire.”
The Department of Public Safety will encompass the divisions of police, fire, ambulance and emergency management services. This merger will allow for shared services and resources to effectively coordinate emergency protection within the entire community.
“The increasing sophistication and growth of our township demands that the traditional public safety model be reworked and modernized,” said Township Manager David G. Kraynik. “We are fortunate to have Chief Nolan to lead this new department. He is a 32-year member of the police force who has a proven track record of working effectively with all of our emergency services personnel.”
The township will also be recruiting and hiring some career firefighters in the future. Organizational changes to the structure of the department are expected to be rolled out beginning in January, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.