Public Safety Center to increase fees for firefighters

Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — For years, local firefighters have been able to use the facilities at the Shumaker Public Safety Center in Harrisburg.

It was free if departments didn’t need outside instruction or equipment, but that will soon change.

“If you look at our 12-acre training facilities, to remain sustainable, to remain state of the art, we need to find the mechanism to fund the infrastructure,” said Robert Stakem, director of HACC’s Public Safety Center.

Stakem says last month’s inspection of the burning building revealed many problems.

“We need to do some repairs to some of the tiles, some of the concrete, some of the brickwork, some new calking, some new hinges, door closures, and we’re looking at the area of about $125,000,” Stakem said.

Stakem says in the last two years, 22 local departments used the space for free, but under a new fee structure, that would change.

“Those fees really impact the fire service and the county residents for something that we already paid for,” said Richard Lanker, treasurer of the Dauphin County Fire Chiefs Association.

Lanker says the safety center is funded from a state grant and Dauphin County tax money.

“Where is the $1.3, $1.8 million that was left to subsidize repairs, updates, and upkeep at the public safety center?” Lanker asked.

Stakem says HACC wants to work with fire departments in a collaborative partnership and one way to help local departments is an annual membership fee.

“$500 would allow them to use the facilities unlimited, off-hours, with no live burn evolutions, so if they want to throw ladders if they want to do drills, run-in drills, hose line advancement,” Stakem said.

The chief’s association still has a lot of concerns and they plan to enlist the help of county commissioners to find a better solution.

“The organizations are already struggling with membership,” Lanker said. “We don’t want to add another burden to that, by not having trained, qualified people out there in the field, whether you’re career or volunteer.”

The new fees to use the facilities won’t take effect until July 1, 2020.

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