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North Versailles residents question fire-response issues

| Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, 3:01 a.m.

North Versailles commissioners and residents want better communication and more cooperation among township fire departments.

The township recognizes three departments — Fire Department of North Versailles, Crestas Volunteer Fire Co. and West Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Co.

At Thursday's commissioners meeting, resident Beverly Manz and board president George Thompson said the North Versailles department is not calling the others to respond to emergencies.

“I had a fire on Third Street, and every fire department was there except for two of ours,” Thompson said.

“If my house catches fire, I don't want someone outside my township coming in my house unless it's necessary,” Manz said. “These companies need to be backing each other up.”

Commissioner Russell Saula Sr. said the he was working on a policy to address the problem, but an illness prevented him from completing the work.

“We are trying to get it resolved,” Thompson said. “We have three departments here, and I'd like to see them all involved together and working together. They're all here for the same reason.”

Thompson said North Versailles is dispatched first by county 911, then the department requests assistance from Turtle Creek, Monroeville, Pitcairn and other municipalities instead of from Crestas and West Wilmerding.

“They're not calling our own people in as their backup,” Thompson said. “They just don't get along with each other, but I'm going to change it. They're going to work with each other. They're getting tax money here.

“When you're a fire chief, you're in a leadership position, and you need to act like that. Until you prove to me that one of these fire departments can't handle that, then they should be recognized.”

Thompson said commissioners and the three fire chiefs met about six months ago to discuss fire tax distribution and communication. He said another meeting needs to take place.

Commissioners approved a $1,425.63 payment to Crestas and a $8,393.55 payment to North Versailles from the fire tax fund. Thompson said West Wilmerding did not submit a proposal.

Commissioners corrected an oversight from the Jan. 6 reorganization meeting. They nominated a president and vice president of the board, but did not vote on them.

Solicitor Greg Evashavik said there was a miscommunication, and he could not attend that meeting because of scheduling conflicts.

Thompson officially was named president by a 5-1 vote on Thursday. Commissioner George Beswick dissented and Commissioner Daryl Mitchell was absent. Frank Bivins was unanimously elected vice president.

Commissioners awarded a $32,100 demolition bid to DJ Demolition.

Township engineer David Gilliland said the company submitted the lowest responsible bid of five. Properties to be demolished are 2304 Crestas Ave., 128 Versailles Ave., 538 First St., 106 Elder St. and 236 Greensburg Pike.

Commissioners accepted the resignation of Paul Saula from the Civil Service Commission and Tom Leicht from the planning commission. Joseph Kutch was appointed to complete the planning term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2017. No one was appointed to succeed Saula.

Michael DiVittorio is a Trib Total Media staff writer.