Our Fire Companies Should Not be Political Pawns

Working together, the volunteer firefighters of Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor fire companies serve  Tredyffrin Township.  Many of our residents and their families are involved in the volunteer firefighting effort and proudly serve our community.  Firefighting is demanding. There are hours of training involved, requirements to be met, standards to uphold, and volunteer firefighters are not compensated in the traditional way. There is no big paycheck or large monetary bonus to work harder.

John DiBuonaventuro has served as a volunteer firefigher for the Paoli Fire Company for many years and is passionate in his support.  In his position as a member of the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro also serves as the fire company liaison.  As an audience member in this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting,  I witnessed an uncomfortable exchange between Supervisors DiBuonaventuro and Warren Kampf in regards to the fire companies and their funding.  Understanding DiBuonaventuro’s long-standing support of the  fire companies vs. Kampf’s vote against full-funding of the fire companies in the township’s 2010 budget . . . one might question Supervisor Kampf’s sudden interest in our local fire companies and their funding. 

Our volunteer firefighters deserve our community’s support . . .  but I think we would all agree they should not be used as pawns in a political campaign. Today’s Main Line Suburban newspaper includes the following As I See It opinion article, The continual politicization of our fire services, which speaks directly to this topic.

    As I See It: The continual politicization of our fire services

By John V. Petersen

As if the big cardboard-check moment during the Dec. 12, 2009 Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors meeting wasn’t enough, we had another play at Monday night’s BOS meeting involving the fire service as a political football. As we all know, Warren Kampf, current Tredyffrin BOS member and previous chairman, is seeking to challenge Rep. Paul Drucker for the State Representative seat for the 157th Legislative District. At Monday night’s BOS meeting, Mr. Kampf stated that he met with members of the Berwyn Fire Company and the topic of a stable long-term firefighter-funding source was discussed. What Mr. Kampf failed to tell the public was his visit to Berwyn was in connection with his 157th candidacy, not in his capacity as a Tredyffrin supervisor. For the record Supervisor and Paoli firefighter John “J.D.” DiBuonaventuro serves as the fire liaison.

 In that capacity, Supervisor DiBuonaventuro has had such meetings concerning the fire task force and funding with Berwyn and Paoli FDs and updates on that progress have been shared with the public, most recently at the March 1, 2010 meeting. On that same day Mr. Kampf sought the Montgomery County endorsement for the 157th and therefore did not attend the March 1 meeting and clearly was not aware that the matter was already discussed during the previous meeting.

What I find disingenuous is Mr. Kampf on one hand stating the importance of finding a stable long-term funding source for the fire companies and on the other hand, most previously in his role as BOS Chairman, supporting cuts to the fire service and at the same time retaining funding for the annual July 4 fireworks display. These two viewpoints are completely irreconcilable. It should also be noted that earlier in his tenure on the BOS, Mr. Kampf served on fire task force. Accordingly Mr. Kampf has already had an opportunity to address the issues that are currently being addressed by Supervisor DiBuonaventuro. It is clear that the only motivation here is Mr. Kampf’s pursuit of higher political office. And to that end he is seeking to use the fire service as a pawn in his political chess game. Between the big cardboard-check event and last night’s meeting, it is clear Mr. Kampf is using a public forum dedicated to township business for his own political purposes. In a word it is inappropriate.

When the firefighters and EMTs perform their heroic work, they don’t ask about party registration. To be used as a political football of sorts is to denigrate that heroic work. Ultimately Mr. Kampf is free to run his campaign as he sees fit. As citizens we have forums like this to hold candidates and office-holders accountable. All I would ask is that Mr. Kampf campaign on his own time, not during the time when the business of Tredyffrin Township is to be addressed. Further, I would ask that all candidates leave the fire service out of their political calculus. There are plenty of other matters ripe for politics. The fire service is not one of them.

John V. Petersen lives in Paoli.

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45 Responses

  1. would like to hear Mr. Kampf’s response. We all know that Mr. Petersen has a single resolve to impugn Mr. Kampf. So, Mr. Kampf, its your turn.

    Hope it comes.
    PS.. Does Mr.Petersen have any issues with Mr. Drucker? Since he is so active in the community forum of public opinion, Mr. Petersen, how’s Mr. Drucker doing?

  2. I am the wife of a Berwyn volunteer firefighter. Thank you Pattye for recognizing the volunteer firefighters families. In addition to risking their lives on this community, many times these volunteers are forced to put the family second to their fire house committments. I love my husband and I support his work as a firefighter but I have been troubled by how politicians ‘use’ the fire companies during election year. Where was their support when they weren’t running for office? They could not show support by fully funding the fire departments in the budget but yet someone like Kampf now wants to be perceived as the their biggest cheerleader! How transparent are his actions! I suggest that the voters of this community need to wake up.

    • what was the rationale for not funding the 25k this past year? WHY WHY WHY? fiscal restraint? I still don’t understand how a reasonable man/woman can think this was right, especially when 25k went to a fireworks show…

  3. Kampf had a chance to address Petersen directly at a meeting a couple months ago and failed to do so. Instead, he chose to go on the attack and not make any points to counter John. Let’s focus on the issue here: “The continual politicization of our fire services”.

    As far as Kampf goes I don’t care if he wins or loses. I want Tredyffrin to win. The sooner he realizes this is bigger then his political future the better off we will all be. By the way there are other topics we can talk about Drucker. This is not the one.

    Petersen and Pattye are not alone in their commentary. At least it is genuine.

  4. Thanks Pattye

  5. FACTS…

    1. i watched the meeting: mr. kampf said he met with the fire companies and talked about them wanting a more stable base line of funding for budgeting purposes and he agrees with that desire.

    i would think since it is obvious — even to JP — that mr kampf has much more power on the BOS than John DiB does, the fire companies (and, supposedly, JP would be happy about that)

    2. i checked the record: Kampf increased funding for fire and ambulance services by more than 200% during his tenure. That’s DOUBLE.

    3. Kampf also supported the original funding for saving the Berwyn Ambulance Company. Yes, others voted to help them before Kampf was on the board, but he delivered the dollars to actually help them.

    John P can attack all he wants — and politicize exactly what he says shouldn’t be — but the facts are Kampf has always delivered for the fire companies and this isn’t something new to the st house race.

    One tough budget year does not a complete picture make…no matter how political JP wants to make it.

    • “i checked the record: Kampf increased funding for fire and ambulance services by more than 200% during his tenure. That’s DOUBLE.”

      I am curious what record you checked? Please elaborate.

    • You need to recheck your facts and who you are attributing certain actions to. The ALS issue was essentially closed in November 2003. The votes after that simply fell in line with that decision. Your reference to the “Berwyn Ambulance Company” which does not exist (ALS/BLS/Fire is provided by the “Berwyn Fire Company” which is ONE UNIFIED organization) demonstrates your inability to actually understand the issues at hand. Your defense of Warren is admirable but simply spewing out talking points shows nothing.

      I am tired of seeing certain individuals give credit where it is NOT due. The ALS issue was brought to the township by Berwyn in 2001 and the company continued, even after its difficulty, to push the issue.

      The increase in funding, which occurred during Warren’s term, can be attributed to the fire company officials (Berwyn and Paoli). They did the work, they pushed the issue and they forced the hand of reluctant political officials.

      Last, the decrease to the fire company funding in the 2010 budget (approved during Warren’s term as chair) is the FIRST DECREASE in fire company funding in recent memory.

      • While Warren touts himself as a champion of the emergency services, his memory is very short. He might simply be misremembering, but he was not a sitting member of the BOS when the decision was made to allow Berwyn Fire Company to continue providing ALS service to the Tredyffrin community. See the BOS meeting minutes below. A search of the document finds no mention of Warren or Kampf or anything else remotely related to him.

        To echo Roger, the fire companies’ increased funding can, in large part, be attributed to their tireless efforts in educating the BOS as to the need of increased funding. There are minutes of BOS meetings as far back as 2001 that show this.

        As Roger notes, this is the first time in over twenty years that the BOS has actually DECREASED funding to the fire companies. I think Warren had a role in that as well.

        http://tredyffrin.org/pdf/minutes/bos/bos-2003-11-17.pdf

    • jp_watcher:
      Wow are you off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Where in the world do you get off stating ‘FACT!’ You need to do your research before posting ‘FACT’ as you call it. Sometimes fact can be put in a different light to prove a point, but you sir/ma’am are in fact false.

      Quote:
      1. Kampf met with the fire company to discuss issues running for the state, yet used the meeting to publicize it at the township..for the benefit of the campaign. Last time I checked, Warren has just as much ‘power’ as any other member of the board. 1/7th. Anyone who believes they have more power, is a fool.

      2. Yes, fire funding has increased 2 years ago when the township agreed to funding towards capital purchases (fire apparatus). This came after years of work on the fire companies side educating the supervisors. This is not additional operating funds, which are still substantially low. Warren is 1/7th responsible for this increase. He was by no means fully responsible. Since we are trying to give credit; JD, Judy D & Bill D were the driving force in that.

      3. This statement is confusing because I have no idea what you are talking about. Referring to ALS services? Berwyn Fire Company received funding for ALS service back in 2001. By the time Warren Kampf was on the board, there were no votes that had any implications on funding that ‘saved’ the fire company. By this time, all the votes to continue with Berwyn as the primary ALS provider were done. There were votes to continue to maintain the funding level as well as reallocate territory from Malvern Fire Co ALS to Berwyn Fire Co ALS for portions of the township. These were put in place by supervisors prior to Warren’s arrival. They were based on options and agreements put into play a year earlier. There was no drama associated with these moves and they were not a big deal at that time.

    • Could you explain to me why Mr. Kampf has more power than JD? Thanks.

  6. I just starting reading this site today, when I read John Petersen’s firefighting editorial on the Save Ardmore website (seems like the Radnor bloggers like what Mr. Petersen is saying) which included a link to this site.

    I’m very impressed, and will now read this site every day!

  7. I think it is interesting that Pattye posted Mr Petersen’s article on this blog for “discussion”. While the intent may have been to open discussion, I think it shows an alliance, however subtle between Pattye and Mr.Petersen.

    At this time, I don’t believe much of anything on this blog, and will rely on my own research to find the truth. This has really become a political bashing forum. Sorry pattye, I think you lost it with this article. Maybe JP watcher can elaborate his facts, in refutation of all the evils Mr. kampf has committed on our poor besotted community.

    • You are entitled to your opinion. I have written on many topics for Community Matters and I am sorry that you feel that you can’t “believe much of anything on this blog”. Thank you for your input and best wishes with your own research.

      Pattye Benson

    • Chet —
      Fascinating that you think you have the right to decide what Pattye writes about, or what she posts. The choice is hers. It’s simple Chet, if you don’t like her decisions, then don’t follow the blog.

      Personally, I think that there have been many times when John P. crossed the line with his comments but what is that saying about ‘calling the kettle black’? In the past, I have found some of your comments to be unnecessary and negative. This blog would not be nearly as interesting if everyone agreed with me.

  8. Pattye keep up the good work. It is obvious some people can’t read meeting minutes or attend a Board of Supervisors to become educated on what is going on. This is a blog people, not Fox News or CNN. Get a grip!

  9. You are polite if nothing else. I think I can recognize your affiliations and alliances. To use a quote from Mr Petersen worries me, as a basis for discussion. No way will and BOS get on this thing and defend themselves.
    I too wonder why they cut the fire companies this year. It doesn,t make sense and I would love to know WHY especially when giving the same amount they were taking away to fireworks. It seems so obviously dumb that I must be missing something. And yet, I have not heard WHY, here on this blog.
    All I get is venom from Mr Petersen, and a few others.

    You got answer?

  10. JP may be more vocal then others, but honestly, there is a lot to take from this blog, regardless of who Pattye chooses to profile for discussion points. Public awareness is important.

    The fire company funding issues is more a matter of priority. Nothing more, nothing less. There is more then enough tax dollars collected to fund all of the fire company needs. But instead, a lot of the money goes to other things. Priorities!

  11. cj. thank you for your answer. I have to wonder what these folks are thinking when the fire companies are NOT a priorty

    • “I have to wonder what these folks are thinking when the fire companies are NOT a priority”

      it’s not only just the fire companies per say, it’s fire safety and prevention as a whole. The township has no fire marshal, an inadequate codes enforcement department, and fire codes that don’t really do anything.

      Shall we discuss the GOP sponsored anti-sprinkler mailer that went out just before the last election?

      This is why people get so upset with Warren, the TTRC, and the politics being played at their expense.

      Despite the way JVP presents some his view points, the core issue he’s discussing is still a real problem, and he’s spot on in his editorial.

      On another note, aren’t we coming close to deadline for the Holiday Fund Drive aka the Cardboard Check? Wasn’t that the end of March?

      Pattye, have you heard from either Berwyn FC or Mr. Olson regarding how they faired?

  12. The TESD taxes close to 18 mills — the BOS taxes less than 2.5 mills. It’s a little piece of tax — but even a tiny increase is portrayed in percentages — so the BOS (the businessmen that PPDick calls for on the school board) are notoriously CHEAP….and clearly, until WK decided to run for 157th, the big 3 are politically clueless. Tone deaf to the sounds of political responses (“She’s a democrat” actually came out of the mouth of Paul Olsen over the microphone!)

    JP is enjoying his scrutiny of WK — says things shouldn’t be politicized but of course, he doesn’t mean that. It’s about elections — so how else can you talk about it.?

    We used to say ‘big P’ or ‘little p’ — meaning Politics (Republican v. Democrat) or politics — just the ramifications of needing the electorate to ultimately weigh in. Someone said the folks on Ardmore appreciate John’s input. Perhaps he doesn’t find the need to criticize the readers there needlessly. I enjoy reading his information — just find his opinions woefully uninspiring.

  13. Specifically what was the GOP anti sprinkler mailer. I must have chucked it out.

  14. The BOS realized just how many Tredyffrinites support fire funding as a top priority as soon as they presented their 2010 budget last November. There literally were fireworks…

    I understand taxpayers are not in the mood for a tax increase right now, but IMHO there is no justification for asking our volunteer firefighters and EMT’s to beg for charity to balance their budgets every year. None.

    The cost of their valuable services should be shared fully by every resident and business in the community – not the 20% we now pay after insurance reimbursements and state subsidies are taken into consideration. The remaining cost represents the price of an essential service from which ALL benefit and for which ALL should pay . Isn’t that what taxes are meant to cover?

    No more cardboard check charades, please!

    IMO, in a township of this size with the resources we have, it is simply an embarrassment that we don’t fully and reliably support our fire companies – our tax-saving, property-saving, life-saving volunteer fire companies.

    And given that we currently have at least one supervisor on record as saying our fire companies should be completely self-funded, we know this issue is far from settled.

    .

    • Kate
      Is there an online way to donate to the fire companies? I get those solicitations and I confess they just don’t get the same attention of a bill — and always seem to come at the same time. If there was a website with the ability to donate — I bet we could pump up the interest. Even using a Paypal link — that lets you use a credit card as well as your bank — I have raised thousands in the past for other groups. Thoughts? If this exists, please pass on the how.

      • I just checked Paoli, Berwyn and Radnor Fire Companis’ websites and was surprised to see that there are NO online options for making donations .
        Paypal is easy to set up – even for a non-profit, and it would make it easy for people to act on the urge to donate.

        I’m guessing there must be a reason why none of the fire companies have set this up…

        Anyway, writing a check takes only a minute. Here are the addresses:

        Paoli Fire Company
        69 Darby Rd., Paoli 19301
        (610) 644-1712

        Berwyn Fire Company
        23 Bridge Ave., Berwyn, PA 19312
        (610) 644-6050

        Radnor Fire Comapny
        P.O. Box 31South Wayne Ave., Wayne, PA 19087
        (610) 687-3245

  15. I mean do those bad gop’ers want us all to burn and die?

    • Chet,
      Full-funding to our fire companies (Berwyn, Paoli & Radnor) is a very important topic to many of us — whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent or ‘party of purple’. This should not be a ‘political topic’ but rather a community topic. Before too long, I hope that the BOS will begin to look at the 2011 budget — it is important that there be restoration to the pre-2010 fire company budget. I do not think remarks like your last comment are helpful to that end-result.

      • Pattye, some one mentioned in THEIR comment, before mine, about a GOP anti sprinkler mailer. So I am just asking a question:
        Does it have anythiing to do with being a Republican? If you are critical of me, then why not the previous couple of posters who mentioned it in the first place.

        So, I ask, what was the specific ANTI SPRINKLER mailer about?
        There must be more to it? All we got was the GOP anti republican mailer… can u see this, fairminded Pattye?
        thanks!

      • also, I have mentioned in previous posts that I thought it very curious at best, dumb(exact word) even that they would keep 25k from the fire companies and give it to fireworks. You know, I really don’t have to defend myself to you. Why don’t you just read the previous posts. ?
        ]
        Meanwhile I still have no answer about the mailer… maybe there was more to it besides…just NO SPRINKLERS>>. can you answer that please?

  16. All —

    1. The back-up you wanted on 200%

    Per Tredyffrin Twp Budgets, township contributions to Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies (for fire, capital, BLS and ALS) were…

    $139,300 – in 2003 – the year before Kampf started
    $404,800 – for 2010

    That’s a 191% increase.
    (Yes, I used the extra 9 points as emphasis)

    2. RE: The Berwyn Fire Company’s Ambulance Service…

    Never said Kampf set it up — said he supported the funding and he did. Again, township records show he voted for the new ALS funding.

    (Ed comment: a “plan” for funding means nothing until someone provides that funding. Kampf helped make sure it could happen by providing that funding with the BOS).

    3. RE: Kampf having “more power” than John D.

    That was an editorial comment and was made citing Mr. Petersen’s numerous comments, posts, rants, etc. about a supposed “block of 4” controlling everything in Tredyffrin.

    By his thinking — as John D is not part of his conspiracy block — that would give Kampf more power.

    It was NEVER stated as a fact, just a note that for Mr. Petersen to complain about someone he says controls things being in agreement with doing something good for the fire companies is somewhat ironic.

    • 1) The combined annual operating budgets of Berwyn, Paoli & Radnor fire companies is well over $3 Million. this does not include capital needs. $404,800 for operating & capital for the fire companies (no capital for Radnor) is a tiny little piece of the puzzle. The fire companies are thankful for the increases, but 200% of very little, still leaves a long way to go. I was not attempting to belittle the supervisors, but believe that Mr. Kampf should not be taking or given sole credit. At this point, campaigning seems to bring out a lot of “I” and not ‘we as a board.’

      By stating that Mr. Kampf was not involved in the decision or vote surrounding ALS does not make him ‘look bad’, he simply just wasn’t around at the time it was dealt with. The vote Mr. Kampf was involved in was a vote that was promised to Berwyn Fire Company months before Mr. Kampf was a Supervisor. The previous promise was based on stipulations Berwyn Fire Company needed to reach, which they did. Also, It was NOT a vote for adding/increasing funding. It was a vote for releasing the funding that was already budget for the year. The funding was withheld at the beginning of the year until the stipulations were met by the fire company. But I will continue to give the credit to Mr Kampf for 1/7th of that vote.

  17. One question now for Mr. Petersen and others?

    If the issue is truly fire company funding and NOT politics, why is no one taking Mr. Drucker to task for supporting state budgets that CUT contributions to our local fire companies?

    • To put this back on topic, Drucker isn’t using the Fire Service for his own political benefit, at least not yet.

  18. jp_watcher,

    Political games and partisan spin. Turn up the dial, right?

    You know very well that Rep. Drucker’s vote on the tortured and belated 2010 state budget included countless line items, not all of which he supported.

    Held up for months, even resulting in state employees going without pay for a stretch, Paul voted to pass a whole budget – apparently the best one our legislators could agree on.

    I am certain he strongly supports increased fire funding at both the state and municipal levels and will work to that end.

    I am also pretty sure that you have a political agenda in making the comments you have made. You’re entitled to do so. But every reader on this blog will take that into account – just as they will the fact that I am a Drucker supporter who believes Paul has worked very hard to represent all of the 157th and will continue to do so.

  19. As stated we are talking about the politicization of our fire services. There are other topics in progress to discuss Drucker. The constant posting by a select few continue to make Warren look bad.

    Let’s get back to the topic of Tredyffrin and how we as a community can solve this FD funding problem.

  20. Drucker obviously does not create the ire for JP — though I believe it was Drucker that beat JP for Supervisor — so WK must really annoy him. We can all pick at all the details — or we can look for common ground and maybe even solutions.
    I asked above but it probably got lost in the sniping — is there a way to make a donation to Berwyn/Paoli fire services (either or both) ONLINE?
    Hey — the sun is finally out. let’s everyone go have a walk…maybe pick up some of that stuff in Wilson Park (I’d like to think it was there because animals went in the snow…but it’s there for whatever reason).

  21. “Per Tredyffrin Twp Budgets, township contributions to Berwyn, Paoli and Radnor Fire Companies (for fire, capital, BLS and ALS) were…$404,800 – for 2010”

    How much does (1) ladder truck cost????
    How much does (1) ambulance cost????
    How much does (1) engine cost????
    What are the annual personnel costs (volunteer/paid) per station????

    I look forward to the findings of the Kampf committee.

    • I think the Fire Companies have quoted something near the following in the past:

      (1) ladder truck = $800,000-$1,000,000
      (1) ambulance = $150,000-$200,000
      (1) engine = $300,000-$400,000

      I don’t remember the personnel cost as well, I think Berwyn was in the $800k neighborhood and Paoli maybe half that. Berwyn’s is higher due to the ALS staffing.

    • 1 ladder truck – $850,000 – $1,000,00 depending on exact type and functionality. replaced every 15-20 years.
      1 Ambulance – $100,000 – $190,000 depending on size, storage space and functionality. Replaced every 3-6 years
      1 Engine – $350,000 – $450,000 depending on size, storage space, water tank size, number of personnel seats and functionality. replaced every 10-15 years.

      Saving lives & property – priceless.

      However, the price is actually Millions. Tax money from Tredyffrin & Easttown currently supports roughly 20% of the annual operating costs to the fire companies. Should they just start responding to 1 out of 5 calls they get?

  22. That’s a great point. This issue has gotten out of control because certain individuals aren’t looking out for what’s best for the community. Instead, they are doing what’s best for them and their candidate’s political career.

  23. Apparently Warren has not increased funding enough for the fire companies. I drove past the Berwyn Fire Company the other day and they were using a tarp as a door. It’s a sad day when our brave firefighters need to keep themselves warm with a big blue tarp.

  24. I don’t know what the personnel costs are, but it is a matter of public record that Beryn Fire Co and Paoli Fire Co.’s combined operating costs in 2010 are about $2 million. An ambulance costs about $150,000, an engine about $500,000 and a ladder truck about $900,000.

    Though Easttown and Willistown contribute in proportion to the services they use, Tredyffrin is by far the largest contributor, and our tax dollars contribute less than $300,000 toward the fire companies’ operating costs this year.

  25. The mailer came out during the last election campaigning stated that they were against ordinances that would require new building construction to require sprinkler installation. This was a strike against Eamon Brazunas who’s campaign was heavily weighted on community safety. Their stance was that it would cost too much money to install and would lessen the value of homes and make it harder for builders.

    There might have been more to it, but I threw that garbage out.

  26. CJ —

    I have the mailer in front of me. They NEVER said they were against the ordinance. Yes, they brought it up as an issue of cost, as you state, but — again — never said they were against the ordinance.

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