Friendship Fire Company of South Lebanon Township, Prescott Community Fire Company, and South Lebanon Fire Company No. 1 will merge to form the South Lebanon Fire Department in the first quarter of 2023.

Billy Weikel serves as vice president and lieutenant of the South Lebanon Fire Company No. 1, as well as the merger steering committee chairman. Recently, he explained the reasons behind the upcoming merger and its anticipated impact on South Lebanon Township and neighboring communities.

“Over the past five years, there has been a steady decline in volunteer firefighters, not just locally, but statewide,” Weikel, a Lebanon County native, said. “Collectively, the membership of all three existing fire companies agreed to work together to create a plan for the future.”

Some younger members of the South Lebanon Fire Department. (Provided by Billy Weikel)

The membership’s plan for the future includes addressing modern-day challenges for fire and emergency services, meeting current field standards, and creating a more efficient organization.

Over the past two years, the membership worked to actualize its plan for the future. This involved creating a plan for a merger of the three fire companies.

To create the plan for the merger, members from the three fire companies, including Weikel, formed a merger steering committee.

“We first looked over the bylaws from each [fire] company and worked together to form one new set of bylaws,” Weikel said. “We then reviewed our standard operating guidelines and made changes to improve the way we did things on the fire grounds. We also set a new training standard for all new members to meet.”

The committee also examined current and previous ways that administrative duties were handled and then determined a way to move forward that better served their communities.

The plan for the merger was then approved by the collective membership and supported by the township supervisors.

“The new South Lebanon Fire Department was formed to improve public safety services and create a stronger volunteer fire-rescue system to serve the residents and businesses of the municipality and surrounding communities,” Weikel explained.

The merger is expected to be approved in the first quarter of 2023, and the first organizational meeting will be scheduled shortly after.

“Until the final approvals are received and the first organizational meeting of the new department is held, all three fire companies will continue to function as they currently do, and all positions currently held by members of the respective organizations will remain the same,” Weikel noted.

The South Lebanon Fire Department is projected to have about 40 members and respond to about 500 calls per year within its first-due response area, South Lebanon Township, and neighboring communities through mutual aid.

“There will be no changes to how we respond to calls,” Weikel said.

Although the department will have enough volunteers to respond to calls throughout 2023, it welcomes additional volunteers.

“To continue to be successful, we need the communities’ support now more than ever as we implement our plans for the future,” Weikel said.

Lebanon County residents who are interested in volunteering can contact the South Lebanon Fire Department at

The Martin family. (Provided by Billy Weikel)

“There are other ways to volunteer besides firefighting,” Weikel said. “We are looking for social members to help with administrative duties and fundraising.”

As a result of the merger, the fire department’s administrative duties “will be more streamlined,” he added. “In the new department, there will be one administrative board that will receive input from the membership in order to make the decisions on the functions of the department.”

The administrative board will create one operating budget and one capital budget.

In contrast, Weikel said that the funding process from the three fire companies will not change at the South Lebanon Fire Department.

And the township’s support of the companies will continue as two recently funded apparatus pieces will be delivered to the new department.

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Lexi Gonzalez is a reporter for LebTown. She is currently completing her bachelor's degree at Lebanon Valley College.


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