For a number of years, the Liberty Fire Co. of Sinking Spring, Citizens Hose Co. of Wernersville, Community Fire Co. of Fritztown and the Lower Heidelberg Township Volunteer Fire Co. provided mutual aid to each, collaborated together for training and performed a number of community outreach events to the residents of the municipalities.
In 2007, the department leadership of each company and the elected officials of the four municipalities began discussing the options available for furthering the already existent cooperation between the four departments and municipalities. In December of 2007, a committee of elected officials, fire department officers and members, community residents, and business leaders convened to discuss the various options available with a representative from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
After a number of monthly committee meetings, extensive research and data collection, and discussions with other departments who recently performed a consolidation, in October of 2008 the committee presented the elected officials, department members, and community residents with an extensive report documenting the recommendations to form the new consolidated department.
The Western Berks Fire Department was organized and placed “in-service” on August 8, 2009 when the four legacy departments from four separate municipalities were consolidated into one comprehensive department.
The new department is now responsible for protecting over 18,000 residents and hundreds of business in an area covering over 32 square miles which consists of residential neighborhoods, industrial areas, educational facilities, agricultural facilities, major rail and highway transportation corridors and a number of hazardous materials facilities.
For a comprehensive explanation of the department, services provided, and organizational structure, view our organizational statement by clicking on the link below.
Governance & Financial Information
The Western Berks Fire Department is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of the following representatives;
- One elected official from each of the municipalities served by the department (4);
- One fire department member who lives in each of the municipalities served by the department (4);
- The appointed fire commissioner of the department (ex-officio trustee);
- One recording secretary; one treasurer; and one solicitor.
These individuals, along with the general membership of the organization meet on a monthly basis (on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm) at the Wernersville station to discuss operational issues along with receiving updates from department officers and municipal representatives.
Click on the following link to view an organizational chart representing the governance structure of the department along with the fire suppression leadership of the organization.
The Western Berks Fire Department and the Western Berks Fire Department Relief Association* is governed by a comprehensive set of by-laws for each organization. Click on the following links to view the most current version of by-laws for each of the organizations.
Each year, the Fire Commissioner with the assistance of the Board of Trustees and Fire Chief, develops an operating budget and relief budget to guide the fiscal activity of the department. Click on the following links to view the most current version of the budget for each of the organizations.
* The WBFD Relief Association is a separate entity of the Western Berks Fire Department that is focused on providing financial protection to volunteer firefighters against the consequences of misfortune suffered as a result of their participation in the fire service and to also allow for the safeguards in preserving life, health, and safety of the volunteer firefighters. For more information on the operation and funding of Relief Associations, visit the Pennsylvania Auditor General's website at http://www.auditorgen.state.pa.us.
As required by the by-laws of the Western Berks Fire Department, and by the appropriate legislation governing the operation of relief associations, audits are performed by the appropriate agency at specified times. To view the latest audit reports for the Western Berks Fire Department and Relief Association, click on any of the following links.
Although the department is considered a tax-exempt organization, 501(c)(3) organizations have information reporting obligations under the tax code to ensure that they continue to be recognized as tax-exempt. In addition, they may also be liable for employment taxes, unrelated business income tax, excise taxes, and certain state and local taxes.
In an attempt to promote openness and transparency of the organization, the department participates and provides information to the GuideStar service (http:www.guidestar.org) along with other non-profit organizations throughout the nation and the world. In addition to the information found on GuideStar, the department also posts the most recent 990 Form submitted to the IRS. Click on the link below to review the most recent 990 Form as submitted.
Planning & Administration
The purpose of a strategic plan is to define an organization's strategy or direction and to assist in making decisions on allocating its resources in order to accomplish the strategy. Through the process of developing a strategic plan, the following secondary tasks are identified, developed, and documented in the final project;
- Understanding and applying the values of the organization;
- Developing the mission of the organization;
- Assessing the challenges and opportunities of the external environment;
- Assessing the weaknesses and strengths of the internal environment;
- Identifying the strategic issues faced by the organization;
- Creating strategic goals for the strategic issues; and
- Creating the organization's ideal future through proactive futuring.
In October of 2014, the department leadership adopted the organization's first strategic plan which defines the organization's strategy and direction beginning in 2015. To view the complete plan, click the link below;