Becks Run assets get distributed
By Stephanie Hacke
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Cash and equipment from a now-defunct Baldwin Borough fire company will be divided among the town's three remaining stations, according to a court order signed earlier this month.
Yet, leaders of one of the remaining fire companies continue to question what borough leaders' plans are for their station, as they say they have not been sent out on fire calls as a primary responder since the day before the court document was signed.
“It certainly comes across as retaliatory. We could hope and pray that's not the case,” Option Independent Fire Company Vice President Nancy Barylak said Tuesday, noting the Streets Run Road fire station with 22 firefighters and 10 non-firefighters has been “scrambling to get information” during the last week.
The only changes that were made, though, was adding fire responses from South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company and Baldwin Independent No. 1 to calls in Option's primary response area as a part of a study to determine how best to provide fire service in the borough, emergency management coordinator Ken Guerra said.
Option representatives took their concerns to Baldwin Council Tuesday night.
Council members are looking into the possible changes in responses, council Vice President Michael Stelmasczyk said.
“Council was not made aware of any of these changes and council is going to find out more about this, guaranteed,” he said.
Baldwin Borough officials long have discussed a merger between the fire stations.
In recent month, borough leaders drafted a plan that split the borough into two fire districts — one in the northern end and the other in the southern end of Baldwin, Guerra said.
Baldwin's more northern fire station, Becks Run Independent Fire Company, was decertified in 2012 after two leaders of the fire company were charged with theft from a firefighters' relief association fund.
This accelerated a plan, borough officials said, to look at merging fire stations in the borough.
Officials crafted a plan to create a northern station that would include Baldwin Independent Fire Company No. 1 and a southern station that would include South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company and Option Independent. This plan was presented at a meeting earlier this year, where residents raised questions about response times.
Part of the plan would be to build new fire stations in both the northern and southern portions of the borough, Guerra said.
“It's pretty much still on square one,” said South Baldwin Volunteer Fire Company President Chad Hurka. “All we do is keep providing fire service to the borough.”
“We haven't set anything in stone yet,” said Baldwin Independent Fire Company No. 1 deputy Chief Bill Connors. “The plan is still in place.”
Becks Run leaders last year filed to merge with Option Independent.
Baldwin officials late last year, also, filed a motion in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Court seeking a distribution of the assets of Becks Run. Nearly a year later, on Nov. 7, an agreement for the assets was finalized.
The agreement includes distribution of everything from hoses and brooms and trucks. Each fire company got something. Other items will be sold.
How the sales will be handled has yet to be determined, Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett said.
Becks Runs' funds will be divided between the fire companies also, with Baldwin No. 1 getting 46.34 percent, Option receiving 27.13 percent and South Baldwin getting 26.53 percent.
When Becks Run was decertified the fire company had about $206,000, Barrett said. After loan and building payments, there now is about $185,000, he said.
How the funds will be given to the fire companies will likely be handled through the courts, Barrett said.
Leaders of South Baldwin and Baldwin No. 1 declined to comment on the settlement.
Option leaders said they were happy with the final results.
“We never wanted everything. We were going to disperse it,” Barylak said.
Also on Nov. 7, Barylak said, leaders of Option noticed they no longer were being called as a primary responder to calls in their response district, which stretches from Prospect Road to Brownsville Road.
Guerra said he is testing how long it takes firefighters to get from South Baldwin and Baldwin No. 1 to response area's in Option's territory.
The best way to do that, he said, is to add them to the calls in Option's territory and see how long it takes the firefighters to get from their homes to the station and ultimately to the scene they're responding.
“We didn't eliminate Option, we added to them,” Guerra said.
The results of this part of the study will help emergency management officials be able to know if response times would be affected by moving fire stations, Guerra said. The timing, was not meant to coincide with the ending of the court proceedings. The emergency management coordinator said he did remove Option from backing-up Baldwin No. 1 and South Baldwin.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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