By Elizabeth Perry
The McKees Rocks Borough Council unanimously voted to unrecognize the McKees Rocks Volunteer Fire Department as fire protection services for McKees Rocks.
Council President Archie Brinza said the fire company had been on the “run cards” for three months, meaning they’ve been alerted to emergencies, but have not heeded the call to put out any fires this year.
“At this point, we just choose to unrecognize them so we're not paying on the insurance for guys that are no longer going to be serving the community anyway,” Council member Vincent Corrie said.
Independent Hose Company No. 5 of Stowe, Presston Volunteer Fire Department, became McKees Rocks Borough’s primary fire service on Jan. 10.
“Presston VFD has stepped up 110%,” Brinza said.
Corrie said at this point the McKees Rocks VFD have been locked out of the firehouse, and members are only to be admitted to remove personal items with a borough employee present.
“We can't just let that equipment walk out the door,” Corrie said. The decision of which entity owns what equipment is either going to be made through a civil mutual agreement between the borough and the fire company or, failing that, will be determined by the Attorney General’s office.
“We're not sure who owns what. We do know the ladder truck is owned by the relief association and bought with grant money which ties it to the community,” Corrie said.
McKees Rocks has invested $102,000 in upgrades and maintenance on the ladder truck, Corrie said.
“I think it's all up in the air at this point. We have to figure out what is theirs and what is ours,” Corrie said.
In 2022, the borough had sought to renegotiate the MRVFD’s contract, which had not been updated since 1983. The MRVFD’s contract expired on Dec. 31, 2022 after the MRVFD voted down the borough’s monetary offer, which was less than the previous year.
On Jan. 5, the VFD announced via Facebook they had been decertified by the borough. The borough disputed that claim at the time. Corrie said only the fire company itself could decertify itself as an entity. The most the borough could do would be to unrecognize them.