Despite the apparent departure of one of the four fire companies from the Lackawaxen Fire Commission, the remaining three learned at their Sept. 13 meeting that they will still benefit from reduced insurance costs. In addition to pooling insurance, the Commission is seeking ways to help the volunteer fire departments in this day and age of less donations and fewer volunteers. Starting this year, a joint fund-raising letter went out in April with the funds being split equally. A second letter is gong out this month as a reminder. Previously, each company sent their own letters, incurring their own costs and manpower to send out thousands of stuffed envelopes. John Kerkowski, president of the Fire Commission, said that no one representing Greeley Volunteer Fire Department attended the meeting last Thursday night at the Township Building, though Greeley was invited.
Save as much as $4,400
Present at the meeting were representatives from Lackawaxen Fire Department, Central Volunteer Fire Department and Forest Volunteer Fire Department. Insurance proposals were presented by Dave Ruby from Nationwide Insurance from VFIS and Jim Davis from DGK Insurance from Selective. The net savings from each totaled $16,928 and $13,558 respectively. Differences in coverage and limits will require further comparison before the Commission selects one. Each fire company will have the same policy. Greeley was also required to sign up, but they were not present to offer any comment. The question was raised if that would impact the policies for the other three. Both agents indicated that the other three fire departments would still see similar savings, around $3,800 to $4,400 each. The only impact would be a reduction in the total premium. The Commission will be asking the Lackawaxen Township Supervisors how to best proceed, since it was the Township that signed a resolution establishing the Commission with four fire departments, not three. They must also see how it affects the Commission’s non-profit corporation status.
Fire chief spoke out
At the August Township Supervisors’ meeting, Greeley Fire Chief Robert Schmidt said that Greeley was withdrawing from the Commission. He explained that they entered the agreement because they thought it would be positive, but they did not see that it would be going anywhere. Supervisor Brian Stuart pressed for an explanation of why. Schmidt stated that they were getting more funds from their own appeal letter in the past, citing $18,000 in 2010. He said no letter went out in 2011 and from the joint appeal letter sent out by the Commission in April 2012, Greeley only received $6,000. He also said that he felt the cost savings promised had not materialized, and that Greeley could get liquid propane cheaper. He said that the insurance savings had not materialized.
Says it is premature
Kerkowski pointed out at the August meeting that the insurance quotes had not yet been finalized. Furthermore, a second appeal letter goes out in September as a reminder. Kerkowski said that the Township residents are getting used to the idea of one letter for all four companies, and the second letter may help them decide to give. Kerkowski says it is premature to say that the donation levels are not where they should be, until after the second letter goes out. Their goal was to collect $55,000; less than half came in. Previously, each of the companies maintained its own mailing list, with some duplication. With today’s need for mutual response, Kerkowski said that what one considered their “local’ fire company is a relative term. Greeley will still share in this year’s collection from the reminder letter, Kerkowsk said, since that is what they has agreed. Asked if Greeley could return in the future, Kerkowski said, “No one is closing the door here and it is not closed now.”
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