By Kaylee Lindenmuth
SHENANDOAH - A typical fire dispatch in Schuylkill County currently consists of a mix of "fire districts" and town fire departments.
"Shenandoah Heights Fire, Englewood Fire, Mahanoy City Fire for the Citizens Fire Company, District 30, District 43 for the ladder, in the area of South Ferguson and Jardin Street, Shenandoah" read a second alarm dispatch for a Shenandoah structure fire in December.
Since the late 1990s, Schuylkill County fire companies have operated with two different systems, a three digit "legacy" system, and a fire district system, while Pottsville city uses a station system. Fire companies on the legacy system are dispatched by department, while fire companies on the district system are dispatched by district number.
Since the new system was implemented, upwards of 70% of all fire companies across the county have switched to the fire district system, and a decision at the January 29 meeting of the Schuylkill County Fire Chief's Association mandates the remaining companies make the switch.
In our area, fire companies in Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, West Mahanoy Township, North Union Township, and part of Butler Township still use the previous numbering system.
According to a letter sent out to fire companies by Schuylkill County Communications Director Scott Krater, "this will be a gradual roll out but all fire companies must comply by the deadline" of July 1, 2018.
Shenandoah will be Fire District 64, Mahanoy City will be 48, West Mahanoy Township 36, Butler Township 4, and North Union Township 19.
The new system includes specific ranges in unit numbers for different types of apparatus, which would be: Chiefs 00-09
Fire Police 80-89
Jr. Officers 90-99
For example, a Shenandoah fire engine would be 64-1#.
"What it means for us is that we would be using new numbers on the radio," said Mahanoy City Fire Department Public Information Officer David Truskowsky.
"The only real change that's coming is the the vehicle and line officers will be renumbered. Won't change any day to day operations," said a representative of the Nuremberg-Weston Fire Company.
As of February, fire companies in Ashland, Girardville, Gilberton, Frackville, Gordon, Sheppton, Ringtown, Fountain Springs, and Lavelle employ the district system.
Northern Schuylkill Fire Districts
4 - Butler Township
9 - East Union Township
19 - North Union Township
30 - Union Township/Ringtown
36 - West Mahanoy Township
38 - Ashland
43 - Frackville
44 - Gilberton
45 - Girardville
46 - Gordon
48 - Mahanoy City
64 - Shenandoah