In another step toward a possible consolidation of fire services, Manchester Township fire trucks were remarked recently with York Area United Fire & Rescue insignias and lettering.
As part of the move, York Area United could also take over payroll duties for the township department in 2015, said Timothy James, township manager.
But that's essentially where the working agreement ends.
The township's 22 paid firefighters will still work only from the township's Farmtrail Road station.
"They will remain Manchester Township employees," James said. "At the way it stands, they stay solely with us."
That means they can't be assigned to work from one of York Area United's four other stations in Springettsbury or Spring Garden townships, said Robert McCoy, chief of the regional department.
Number change: A less visible part of the new agreement is that the township's fire service will operate under station number 89-5. Station numbers are used mainly for 911 dispatching purposes, with York Area United dispatched as station 89.
Manchester Township and York Area United have a history of working together. Since 2010, York Area United has provided chief services to the township. Since 2011, the township has paid $4,000 a month for the services, James said.
If York Area United does take over payroll services the start of next year, the fee would jump to $4,500 a month, he said.
York Area United was formed in 2007 when Springettsbury and Spring Garden township merged fire services.
Possible merger: The change of identity is part of a possible merger involving the two paid fire services.
"This is just a step in that direction," James said.
However, that likely won't happen until at least 2017, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of York Area United.
Between now and then, contracts between the regional department and township and township firefighters will have to be inked, McCoy said.
Officials will also have to resolve budgetary issues, he said.
"It needs to be done the right way," McCoy said, adding a potential merger could help participating municipalities hold the line on the cost for fire services. "We are really looking 20, 30, 40 years down the road."
Apart from the cost of paid firefighters, there's also the cost of equipment, such as apparatus that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, James said.
"It's difficult to have a paid fire service for just one municipality," he said.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.