Executive members of the Manor Township Volunteer Fire Department showed up at last night’s public meeting to confront supervisors about what they perceived to be disparaging remarks by Supervisors Paul Rearick and Bob Southworth.
Last week, the supervisors approved a request by the fire department for $17, 000 to purchase a 2,500-foot section of five-inch hose that is used for connection between the fire hydrant and the pumper truck.
Rearick told Fire Chief Chad Evans last week that he felt the volunteers needed to do more fundraising rather than depending on the township for increased funding. Last night, Rearick defended his comments by telling Evans that Manor Township gives more money to their fire department than any other municipality.
“We give a mil of tax to the fire department – $56,000. The most that I found from any fire department that I have checked with is $35,000 and that was only because that fire department is building a new building.”
By contrast, Kittanning Borough allocates $10,000 to each of its three fire departments.
Last night, Evans produced a list of fund-raising activities and presented it to supervisors.
Assistant Fire Chief Matt Klingensmith told supervisors that between raising funds, doing training classes, and fighting fires, the department members are volunteering the maximum amount they can do at this time unless membership increases.
“My guys put in 15 hours yesterday on emergency calls. That’s just yesterday. Now there is a group of guys down there drilling for three hours (practicing response routines). That’s near 20 hours in two days. The amount of training we do just in the last three months is well over 200 hours. For people to assume we don’t do everything we possibly can to raise money, is something that gets under my skin terribly. Last week we spent three different days on a roast beef dinner.”
Fireman Jake McMaster took Rearick to task, stating that firefighters volunteer while he receives a hospitalization compensation package from the township in excess of $12,000 per year.
“Yesterday, I was up at 3:15 in the morning, and down at the (Manor Inn) fire until 6:30. He sent me home so I could go to work for ten hours. Then back (at a car accident call). So just in the two days, we put in half of what you are putting in (hours) for the year (as a supervisor) and you are making almost $12,000.”
McMaster also accused Rearick of being unethical when he applied to Bureau Veritas for a building permit and then signed the permit as a township official instead of bringing it back to Secretary Jill Davis to sign and log, which is normal procedure. Rearick denied any wrong doing and stated he was instructed to do so.
Both Evans and supervisors stated they received numerous calls after an article appeared last week in the Kittanning Paper about the situation.
Rearick said he has always voted in support of the fire department, but was just questioning their operation.
“Hopefully we can work a lot better in the future. I’ve never turned you guys down. I’ve asked questions. I think that is part of my job, my duty, as a supervisor to do that.”