Following trends occurring in Berks County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania pertaining to fire departments regionalizing, consolidating and merging, members of the legacy companies from Friendship Fire Company of Boyertown, Keystone Steam of Boyertown and Liberty Fire Company of New Berlinville evaluated the current deployment of fire and rescue services in their respective communities. Each legacy company evaluated their strengths and weaknesses and came to the conclusion that by consolidating into one organization, fire and rescue services could be drastically improved from an operational perspective as well as an administrative and economical one. In January of 2013, a committee was formally organized and tasked with laying out a roadmap to effect a merger of the firefighting and rescue operations from each legacy company while leaving the social quarters to run as their own solvent corporations purposed to fund the new organization.
The committee sought advice from the Pennsylvania Department of economic development and neighboring Eastern Berks Fire Department as well as the Western Berks Fire Department who both recently went through the consolidation process and their assistance proved invaluable in launching this monumental project. The planning phase took 18 months to complete and on July 1, 2014, at 9:00am, the legacy fire departments relinquished their status as primary providers of fire and rescue services and BAF&R began serving with pride to the communities of Boyertown Borough, Colebrookdale Township, and the northern half of Douglass Berks Township. Prior to that, The Keystone Steam Fire Engine Company had served it community for 141 years, the Friendship Fire Company for 132 years and the Liberty Fire Company 89 Years.
In the most recent years prior to the consolidation, the legacy companies were beginning to face a lack of manpower and financial issues. The system was not breaking but it was bending. If those current trends continued, it could have led to an enormous impact to the community both in safety and cost. The decision to merge and consolidate offered the ability to combine resources, cut wasteful spending and put new life into the volunteer fire service. The legacy companies operated with 22 pieces of apparatus out of 3 separately managed stations. Today, operations are conducted out of two stations under one administration; the Reading Avenue station located at North Reading Avenue and Rowell Road in Colebrookdale Township and the Warwick Street Station at South Reading Avenue and Third Street in the Borough of Boyertown. The Walnut Street station located at Walnut and Spring Streets currently serves as an administrative facility for training and storage. The amount of apparatus was nearly cut in half as now BAF&R has two engines, a rescue engine, an engine-tanker, a ladder truck, a heavy rescue, two brush pieces and five auxiliary units. As time moves along, additional phases of the consolidation plan will be implemented, reducing fleet size even further. With a member roster of over 65 active men and women, BAF&R proudly serves its community inspired by the hundreds of people who served before us.
Of course none of this could have been possible without the support we received from the legacy social quarters, the community, and the governing municipalities.
The social quarters for each legacy organization remain open for your interests whether it be hall rentals, a meal, or out for a night of fun. They are just reorganized and repurposed. Please continue to support them with your business as you have in the past as they all continue to support us.
The Board of Directors are comprised from members of the community who have graciously dedicated their time to manage the financial and administrative aspects of the department. These members bring to the table a wealth of business knowledge and experience and take the burden of administration off the firefighters who can now solely focus on providing excellent services. These members are elected from a body of associate members who all dedicate time and effort in various support services if not elected to the Board.
The governing bodies of each of the municipalities have been tremendously supportive of this endeavor and BAF&R could not have achieved its current status without their support. These community leaders recognize the importance of sustaining its volunteer service and the savings it provides to the stakeholders by fostering a productive relationship between the fire service and local government.