USVFC held a public information session on October 3, 2017. A copy of the slideshow that was presented as well as answers to some of the questions posed at the meeting are now available on the Cell Tower Project page. Please also note that there will be a township Zoning Board hearing regarding the Cell Tower Project at the township building in November. The meeting is open to the public and those wishing to show their support are encouraged to attend. More details are to come for the specific date.
The Officers and Members of the Upper Salford Volunteer Fire Company would like to express our appreciation to all those who attended our information session held on Tuesday October 3, 2017. There were several issues / questions raised during the discussion phase of our presentation. We have captured those issues and have provided further details on some of them below:
Cellco Partnership Inc.
d/b/a Verizon Wireless
One Verizon Way
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
A Company overview of the LESSEE may be found here.
A letter from the Officers and Members of the Upper Salford Volunteer Fire Company:
The Upper Salford Volunteer Fire Company is in dire need of support from the community in an upcoming Township Zoning Hearing. It's no surprise that all volunteer departments across the county are facing financial difficulties and volunteer shortages. Over the years, member retention is steadily declining. This problem is not isolated to Upper Salford, there are 50,000 volunteer fire fighters left across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The State Fire Marshall’s office confirms that figure is down from 300,000 twenty years ago, citing the ever increasing demands for volunteer time in the form of training and fund raising as primary causes. The increase in required time commitment have made routine fundraising attempts nearly impossible.
While we do receive monetary support from the Township, there is no designated fire tax to fully fund operations. In order to provide vital life safety services, our volunteers must put forth excessive fund raising hours and apply for grants in order to keep the company operational.
Nonetheless, your fire crew (neighbors, husbands, wives, sons and daughters) still make an effort to attend an average of over 200 emergency calls, 1,400 emergency call hours, and 5,000 volunteer and training hours per year. Without necessary funds, the fire company is unable to maintain the building, its apparatus, or emergency equipment while continuing to invest in a future.
Verizon Wireless and a handful of USVFC's members worked together to propose a plan to install a 100 ft. mono-pole cell phone tower at the back of fire company property. The revenue generated from leasing the cell phone tower would provide consistent annual payments to the fire company that would mean the difference between sustainability or closing our doors. We urge community members to demonstrate your support by sharing this message, and attending the upcoming Township Zoning Hearing. The date is Tuesday October 17, 2017 and open to the public. Our volunteers will be in attendance.
Help us to help you.
The Officers and Members of the Upper Salford Volunteer Fire Company
Thank you for your interest in the cell tower project. As you may know, Upper Salford Volunteer Fire Company has signed a contract with Verizon to lease a small parcel of land behind the firehouse that will be used to build a cell phone tower. The tower will be approximately 100 feet high and hold antennas for a variety of cellular and VHF radio broadcasts. This will be the 3rd cell tower site in use in Upper Salford township and has been designed by Verizon to improve cellular coverage in the area while being as unobtrusive as possible. The site has been considered for cell tower construction by several companies in the past due to its elevation and seclusion. At this time USVFC has agreed to pursue a contract with Verizon, which is now subject to review by the Upper Salford Township Zoning Board.
The timing of the fire company's decision is not random, but rather part of a fundraising effort designed to support the vital emergency services the company provides to the community. USVFC is a 100% volunteer organization and federally registered 501(c)3 non-profit. The fire company has no paid employees even though it operates with all the same responsibilities and obligations of a small business. The company is not part of the municipal government and not supported by a dedicated tax as many neighboring companies are. Despite the generous support of many township residents, state and federal grants, and annual contributions from the Township, the members of the fire company are still the primary revenue generators for our $200,000+ annual operating budget. The dedicated volunteer members of this company spend countless hours organizing and staffing fundraising events in addition to the hundreds of hours spent training and hundreds more spent on providing emergency services to our neighbors in need.
Funding the fire company has become more and more challenging over the years as volunteerism has declined. According to the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, Pennsylvania has seen a 84% decline in volunteer firefighters. At the same time, the cost and hours of training required to train and equip a new firefighter have skyrocketed. New federal, state and county mandates have increased the cost of operating a fire company. While these mandates have been designed to improve our abilities and save lives, they have also increased the burden on our volunteer members. As this trend continues it has become increasingly difficult for the fire company to fund itself by traditional means. It would take over 200 chicken barbecue a year to fund our company. That's one fundraiser for every emergency call we receive.
The opportunity to sign a contract with Verizon to lease a small parcel of land for a fixed guaranteed income is a bright spot in the company's future. It will allow us time to work with our friends, neighbors and elected officials to secure sustainable funding solutions of for the future while immediately reducing the strain on our hardworking volunteer members. As your fellow residents, taxpayers, voters, friends, neighbors, co-workers and families the members of USVFC appreciate the support we receive from the community and hope to continue to give back for many years to come.
We are currently collecting feedback from friends and neighbors on this proposed project. Please fill out the form below to submit your comments. We will be hosting an information session on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at the firehouse. Every effort will be made to address all questions and concerns submitted here.