UPPER MERION — In 2016, it became drastically clear that the King Of Prussia Volunteer Fire Company, the busiest of the township's three fire companies, could no longer sustain the level of activity it had enjoyed only 16 years earlier
In 2000, the company, staffed by 62 active volunteers firefighters, hosted the Pennsylvania State Firemen’s Convention and Parade, as four-day event that included conferences, training exercises, exhibits, an open house at the host company, and of course a parade.
“All these activities required all the manpower King of Prussia could muster to make a successful event,” recalled James Gallagher, volunteer chief of the company. “At that time, we could do it. Every one of our 62 volunteers helped make it a memorable event,”
In the same decade, 2009, the King Of Prussia Fire Company hosted the convention and parade a second time — this time with fewer volunteers. Only seven years later, explained Gallagher, “we reached a critical stage in our volunteer pool — with only 26 active volunteer members. Something needed to be done and quick. From a managerial standpoint, we were failing our community because we could not provide the adequate fire protection that was necessary.”
He further added that in today’s fire service it is difficult to operate efficiently with a completely all-volunteer fire company.
And so, Gallagher, and the other two volunteer fire company chiefs from Swedeland Volunteer Fire Company and Swedesburg Volunteer fire Company requested a meeting with the Upper Merion Township Board of Supervisors to come up with an “alternative approach.”
For the first time in Upper Merion Township’s history, the township had six full time career firefighters during the daytime weekday hours. The township also hired its first career fire/EMS chief in 2018.
Since most emergencies occur in the King Of Prussia section of the township, it seemed justified that the new career firefighters be stationed at King Of Prussia Fire Company’s main station on Allendale Road.
When an emergency arises in the Swedeland and Swedesburg sections of the township during the daytime, the primary volunteer fire company for that section, along with the career firefighters respond to supplement the volunteers.
Gallagher dutifully noted that the career fighters are doing a great job. However, there is still “unfinished business that needs to be taken care of.”
Gallagher, a 27- year member and a five-year chief of King Of Prussia Fire Company pointed out there is “a gap in the township’s coverage area. Retail establishments, commercial establishments and housing developments are sprouting up in the western section of the township. We are two miles away from them on Allendale Road.
Factor in rush-hour traffic and it adds up to a considerable response time to that area. There is a new fire station planned that will be located on Guthrie Road. This will work out tremendously in keeping that area safe,” explained Gallagher.