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Jefferson Hills Council splits $70K grant among 3 fire companies

| Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, 4:03 p.m.

After delaying a decision for one month, Jefferson Hills Council voted Monday to allot equal shares of money to the three volunteer fire companies serving the borough.

The money comes from the Pennsylvania Foreign Fire Insurance allotment, distributed to municipalities. Jefferson Hills' share is $70,044.

Council approved splitting the money evenly in a 5-1 vote, with member Tracey Khalil opposed. Council member James Weber was absent.

Khalil initially asked for 45 percent each to go to the Gill Hall and Jefferson Hills 885 volunteer fire companies, and the remaining 10 percent to Floreffe Volunteer Fire Company.

Khalil said last month that Floreffe's members have not completed as much training or responded to as many calls as Gill Hall and Jefferson Hills 885. Khalil also said part of the reason is that Floreffe has fewer members than the other two companies.

“They really suffer with membership and have a hard time with recruiting,” Khalil said.

But Debbie Cudlipp, recording secretary for the Floreffe Volunteer Fire Company, disputed the notion the company's members get less training. Cudlipp said many of the Floreffe members simply don't train with Gill Hall and Jefferson Hills 885 because of other commitments.

“I've taken training outside the department, with other departments,” Cudlipp said. “I am still a first-responder whether I get my training through Allegheny County or Jefferson.”

Council member Vickie Ielase said Floreffe's leadership manages the company's budget well and does not request additional funds from the borough. Ielase also noted the borough traditionally has split the money evenly.

Council member Francis Sockman said until specific criteria is spelled out for distribution of funds, the shares should remain equal.

Khalil plans to write provisions such as training, communication with the borough and reporting finances to council as requirements for the money in the future.

Eric Eisert is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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