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City of Lancaster Announces Changes to Fire and Police Bureaus

September 28, 2023 | Bureau of Fire Bureau of Police Mayor's Office
By: Amber Strazzo Righter

Today, Mayor Danene Sorace, alongside Police Chief Richard Mendez and Fire Chief Todd Hutchinson, announced strategic changes within the City of Lancaster’s Fire and Police Bureaus aimed at enhancing efficiency and fiscal responsibility without compromising public safety. 

Mayor Sorace emphasized that public safety remains the City’s top priority, and these changes are crucial to maintain a high standard of public safety while addressing the City’s financial challenges. The City of Lancaster faces a structural deficit, and revenue does not naturally meet the increasing costs to maintain current services.  

Effective January 2024, the City of Lancaster will close Fire Station 6 and discontinue the Police Bureau’s Mounted Unit. These decisions were made after careful consideration and consultation with the chiefs. Station 6 and the Mounted Unit have served the community for decades, and their closure is a difficult but necessary step. 

“We have a responsibility to our residents to have top-of-the-line fire and police response while also being responsible stewards of tax dollars. Both announcements today will help the City of Lancaster increase efficiency and maintain our high standard of public safety,” said Mayor Sorace. 

The closure of Station 6 will not impact staffing levels, as the firefighters from Station 6 will be redeployed to existing stations. The move will improve safety conditions for firefighters and maintain industry-standard response times. The closure is a cost-effective measure, avoiding costly renovations needed to meet modern safety standards. 

“The Lancaster City Fire Bureau of today is now reflected in safer, modern facilities supported by new apparatus, and a fully dedicated team of professionals who are best in class. We look forward to continuing our high level of service to the community,” said Chief Hutchinson. 

Similarly, the discontinuation of the Mounted Unit is a response to staffing challenges and the evolving needs of the community. Mounted officers will integrate into the patrol division to give much-needed support and help ease the strain on patrol officers who are working diligently 24 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to calls for service. The decision aims to address the City’s current financial constraints, the limitations of the Mounted Unit in patrolling, and the evolving landscape of policing. 

“Integrating the mounted officers back into platoons will ease the strain on patrol officers and alleviate some financial burden on taxpayers who cover the costs of necessary overtime pay, estimated to be $900,000 in 2023 alone,” said Chief Mendez. 

Both Chief Mendez and Chief Hutchinson expressed their appreciation for the longstanding service and contributions of Station 6 and the Mounted Unit. They assured that the changes are aimed at ensuring a necessary level of public safety while maximizing public dollars. 

The Police Bureau remains committed to exploring new, innovative approaches to engage with the community, including utilizing technology, expanding bike patrols, and potentially introducing a therapy dog to enhance community engagement. 

The changes announced today mark a strategic step forward in the City’s commitment to maintaining a high level of public safety while adapting to the challenges of the 21st century.

For more information, visit www.cityoflancasterpa.gov/mounted-unit-faq or www.cityoflancasterpa.gov/station-6-closure.