Pitcairn VFD consolidation to be discussed

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Pitcairn officials will seek the opinions of emergency responders, residents and specialists this month on possible solutions for the borough's financially strapped fire department.

A 7 p.m. town meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 in the Park Building on Broadway Boulevard to discuss possibly consolidating Pitcairn's two fire companies and the possibility of creating an additional tax to help support the volunteer firefighters.

Fire chiefs in Pitcairn and Monroeville have explained to their respective councils in recent months that fundraising is down for multiple reasons.

“It's become obvious that their fundraising efforts have been less productive than they have been in the past,” said John Bova, the Pitcairn councilman who serves as the public safety committee chairman.

A consolidation of the borough's two fire companies might make for a stronger department overall, Council President John Prucnal said.

“We have to look at what's better,” Prucnal said. “There's a lot of expenditures go out to both companies.”

Fire Company No. 1 has a privately owned building in lower Pitcairn. Fire Company No. 2's hill-top station is owned by the borough.

Prucnal said volunteers at both stations take pride in their companies. That could make for a passionate discussion.

“It's a touchy situation,” Prucnal said. “There's a lot of history there.”

Fire Company No. 1 treasurer George Toth said this week he would be in favor of a consolidation.

“Actually, I think it would make us a stronger fire department,” Toth said. “And you (would) only hit the town once a year for money, instead of both companies fighting for the same dollar.”

In May, Pitcairn firefighters from both companies asked officials to consider increasing the borough's property-tax rate by 1 mill, which also could be a part of the discussion this month. Toth said Monday that a better option might be a $5 monthly tax on electric bills so homeowners and renter would contribute. The tax would generate an estimated $120,000 annually.

“Our biggest problem is a lack of income,” Toth said. “We took out loans to buy firefighting equipment, we need a new furnace, and the other (furnace) is going.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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