Fire Services project taking shape

The internet/intranet project designed to assist volunteer fire departments in Warren County with both recruitment and public relations is taking shape.

Paul Pascuzzi, chair of the Fire Services Committee that is spearheading the project, told the Council of Governments on Wednesday night that the current focus of the project is on the website. He explained that the goal of the site will be two-fold: identifying what departments do and outlining how the community can utilize the resources of a VFD.

Pascuzzi added, “The main part of it though that this juncture is the importance of our volunteers.”

The total cost of the project is slated to fall between $65,000 and $70,000. The committee is currently “going out for more funding,” he said.

Pascuzzi also informed COG that the committee met last week with Bill Gallagher, Warren County’s IT director, who “will be helping us get the project up and running.” At the meeting, Pascuzzi said, Gallagher presented “a fairly good list of what he plans to do to get this up and running” which includes an “aggressive schedule over the spring.”

As site development gets underway, the Fire Services Committee will be meeting with each of the volunteer fire departments to, according to Pascuzzi, “figure out what identity each one has and how they can identify themselves to their community. One of the things that we know is that we’re hopeful to have each fire department website have a quality look and feel to get people to come visit it.”

The sites could include information regarding the department’s fund-raising efforts, feature a calendar of events or include an application for joining.

The second component to the project, an intranet project to allow for more effective inter-department communication, “will be the cheaper end of it over the long run,” Pascuzzi said.

If the project is successful, a similar project for municipalities around the county might be next.

“If this is a successful project, I’m hoping for something similar for municipalities. That’s probably a year from now,” Pascuzzi said. “Toward the end of this year, (we will) start talking about what municipalities want to do to reach out to the community and whether it is helpful to reach out (and define) what web presence they want.”

Budget information, code enforcement and meeting notices are just a few potential uses for such a site.

“I talked to the secretaries and they really liked this,” PA Futures’ Alan Kugler, the COG’s consultant, said. “It makes their job easier to do. If we can move…into this municipal realm, we can really make a contribution to governance in Warren County.

“This is going to be the biggest funding the COG has ever done,” he said.