Brookville Part-time Firefighters Hot Topic at Borough Council Meeting

BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — The Brookville Volunteer Fire Company was the main topic of discussion at Tuesday night’s Brookville Borough council meeting.

The Company has been in that position for awhile now, considering some of what has been going on with it over the last few years.

Just last fall, a court order settled a two-year battle between the Company and the Brockville Firemen’s Club.
And just two weeks ago, fire chief Jim Lipuma announced that the company would hire two part-time firefighters in June.

But for borough Solicitor James Dennison, there are many questions that need to be answered before that occurs.

“It was a surprise to me,” Dennison said during last night’s meeting. “I didn’t know they were going to hire two part-time employees. The relationship between the borough and the fire department is a special one and it’s great if we can cut down on response time, but there are many other things to be considered.”

“The issue of safety must be weighed with the potential costs that the borough could incur if certain things happened.”

Dennison pointed out that if the fire company hires employees, they can be considered borough employees and if any firefighters were injured, they could make certain claims that otherwise wouldn’t affect the borough.

“This could affect costs to the borough and it needs to be looked into before it’s approved. I would like the fire company to halt its efforts to hire employees. Just because they are sitting on a pot of gold doesn’t make it a good idea,” Dennison said.

The “pot of gold” Dennison referred to was the $400,000 that the Brookville Firemen’s Club had to pay to the fire company after last year’s settlement. The fire company will also receive a certain percentage of money from the Firemen’s Club that it makes in small games of chance, which include raffles.

Lipuma wasn’t at the meeting to address any of the concerns that were raised.

“I heard Lipuma was going to be here and I’m sorry he’s not,” Dennison said.

Council member Clarinda R. Darr also spoke on the issue.

“It looks like hiring firefighters is in the not-so-distant future, a lot of companies are having a hard time getting enough volunteers, but this conversation needs to be continued before anything else happens,” Darr said.
Dennison continued with his concerns.

“This fire company hasn’t discussed it with the borough and there are financial implications. DuBois doesn’t have any paid firemen. It needs to be discussed in greater detail.

“It’s a major change and I don’t think a lot of people realize how important it is that this is discussed further. In some liability issues, courts tend to rule in favor of paid police and firemen when they are injured while performing their duties. The potential costs could be very high.”

Borough Manager Dana Shick addressed a number of items that council voted on, including:

  • The Borough approved hiring Rich Miller as its chief negotiator in the upcoming negotiations with the Public Works Department
  • Shick received approval to attend the state Municipal Legal Update Program; Shick received approval to hire two head lifeguard and three other lifeguards for the summer at Walter Dick Park
  • The Brookville YMCA Adventure Race, set for June 4, received Borough approval, pending the approval by the state Department of Transportation. The race begins at the Millcreek Boat Launch at Piney Dam and finishes at the YMCA.

The next council meeting will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 31.

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