Pennsylvania has a long, rich history of volunteers providing emergency services to the community—a history that dates to 1736 when Ben Franklin formed the first volunteer fire company in Philadelphia.
Today, the Berwyn Fire Company, along with many others across Pennsylvania, continues to uphold the tradition of volunteer-led emergency services in Pennsylvania. Formed in 1894, the Berwyn Fire Company provides a range of emergent medical and fire services across Tredyffrin and Easttown.
While the Berwyn Fire Company provides critical services to the public, most of our funding comes from sources other than taxes. In 2017, tax-funded appropriations from Tredyffrin and Easttown townships accounted for just 26% of the fire company’s funding. Private funding--$1.7 million in 2017—comprises the rest of our funding, to the benefit of T-E taxpayers.
Our private funding sources, however, are under increasing downward pressure. The Fire Company’s largest source of funds, accounting for 36% of total income, is reimbursements from medical insurance companies and Medicare, among others, for emergent medical services and ambulance transportation to area hospitals. In recent years, insurance companies have adopted policies that make it more difficult and more expensive for EMS providers to collect for services performed.
Costs are simultaneously rising. Economic development in the T-E community has brought new businesses and residences that increase call volume for emergency services. Further, volunteerism is in decline requiring the fire company to substitute paid staff to sustain its service commitments to the community.
With expenses now exceeding revenues, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, the Berwyn Fire Company needs the support of the T-E community more than ever to avoid service cuts.