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Burnside tries to resolve compensation issue
Thursday, January 3, 2013
By Josh Woods Staff Writer
BURNSIDE - Members of Burnside Borough Council and Sentry Fire Co. will attend tonight's Burnside Township meeting in an effort to resolve a worker's compensation issue. Sentry Fire Chief David Hughes and members Troy, Candy and Travis Solley attended last night's borough council meeting, opening the lines of communication between the three entities.
Burnside Borough Council President Jim Hopkins said the township used to pay a portion of the fire department's worker's compensation but is no longer permitting Sentry to respond to calls there. In a letter from the Burnside Township secretary, the supervisors informed borough council the township would no longer pay worker's compensation, leaving the borough to foot the entire bill.
"We wanted to know how much training you have because of liability issues with the insurance and stuff," said Hopkins. "That's why we've been hounding you with letters trying to find out what's going on. If you guys screw up they're coming to us too."
Hughes pledged to send a representative to the borough's meetings. Hughes said all small fire companies are hurting for active membership, but Sentry has an ample amount of training. He estimated Sentry has 10 members who have completed the required training.
"We were just down to Mahaffey for an EQT class," said Hughes. "Mahaffey is supposed to put on another basic, firefighter fundamental class ... that's up to 188 hours now. You have to have that before you even step on a truck, plus an 8-hour Hazmat course."
Firefighter Troy Solley said he's attended Burnside Township meetings, but the supervisors refused to renew Sentry's contract. He said the township complained Sentry didn't have insurance. The company has insurance on its building and equipment and pays it in full every year, he said.
"They said there were only nine calls we didn't respond to," said Hughes. "I had Deb Archer at Clearfield County control send me the same stuff she sent the township.
"There were only three calls where we didn't get out. One was a tree down, one was a missing person, but they canceled that, and there were a couple where we got canceled going out of town.
Hughes said Sentry received a letter from Mahaffey Fire Co. and plans to continue its mutual aid agreement with them. He said the company wouldn't set foot in Burnside Township without an agreement, however; unless a life or death situation occurred.
Hopkins said paying for all of the fire company's worker's compensation would take up about a third of the income from taxes the borough has coming in. He said the borough is giving the company water and sewer service and would assist in any other way it can.
Hughes said the company's foreign fire insurance is based on population and losing Burnside Township would reduce the amount it receives. He said the company does not have any payments to make on its trucks or building. Its only bills are for utilities and insurance. Foreign fire insurance can be used to cover liability, he said.
Solley said the company should have six new members soon. He's also been asking around for drivers and needs to get some people certified in that area, he said. Solley volunteered to be the borough's emergency management assistance coordinator.
In other business, Secretary-Treasurer Judith Nipps discussed Councilman Ron Whitney's suggestion for individuals who file for bankruptcy. Whitney said once an individual files for bankruptcy and their case is resolved the borough should require them to put a deposit down. Solicitor George Elias said if the borough wanted to require a deposit it can, she said. Elias said wage garnishment might be more expense to pursue than the money the borough would recover.
Nipps said the state Department of Environmental Protection requested a copy of the borough's sewage enforcement ordinance and fee schedule and asked it to identify its sewage enforcement officer and alternate SEO. Burnside Borough falls under the Clearfield County Sewage Enforcement Act, she said, and she would call DEP to ensure it gets the requested information.
Vice President Jim Phillips gave a road and street report. Phillips said plowing and cindering continue throughout the borough and the catalytic converter on the borough truck needs fixed. The borough is having trouble with four-wheelers, snowmobiles and side-by-sides pushing snow onto roadways, racing down alleys, and damaging property, he said.
In Phillips' water and wastewater report, he said a lateral leak and electrical issue occurred at Pedro Pearce's residence and was fixed. Another leak was traced to the Barnes residence, he said. Phillips agreed to send a notice to Barnes to correct the issue. A second leak is occurring behind the Church of God, Phillips said. There is water in the alley there, but he's unsure of where it's coming from, he said.
Phillips said the borough still has $67,000 of grant money to be used. The borough would like to put a water line up to its clear well, so it could pump to there and use it for emergencies, he said.
However, the grant money probably wouldn't cover much more than an engineering study. The money could be used to purchase chlorine pumps or other supplies, Phillips said.
Burnside Borough's next meeting is Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at the borough building.
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