Fire Department Merger Issue
In an attempt to clarify various actions that have taken place over the past year, council is placing documents relative to fire department issues on this page. Below is the first of a series of documents to establish a timeline of events. You may view the documents by clicking on the appropriate link. To the best of our knowledge, all documents are authentic and occurred on or about the dates shown.
March 8, 2013 – Email from Pres. Rick Colella on presentation to Braddock Hills council re: merger.
March 10, 2013– Letter to Braddock Hills Council & Residents from their fire association indicating merger negotiations with FHVFD
March 14, 2013 – Two pages from the Swissvale Proposal to Braddock Hills for fire service including terms and cost.
March 20, 2013 – Page 17 of FHVFD PowerPoint presentation to Braddock Hills Council.
April 2, 2013 – Letter from Braddock Hills Council to Forest Hills Public Safety Committee re: consolidation of fire departments.
May 3, 2013 – Letter to Braddock Hills Council President from Forest Hills Council re: contracting for fire services and cost.
May 10, 2013 – Letter from Braddock Hills Solicitor to Forest Hills re: response to contracting for fire services and cost.
February 19, 2014 – Memo to all residents/taxpayers re: Council’s requested language for a letter that would resolve the merger issue.
March 10, 2014 (date bylaws received) – FHVFD by laws requested by borough May 2013; see highlighted sections on disposition of equipment and availability of meeting minutes.
April 2, 2014 –Letter sent to VFD requesting a meeting to first resolve the full merger question and then open discussions on other issues.
April 16, 2014 – Letter from Swissvale Fire Chief indicating that there is no plan for Swissvale FD to provide fire services in Forest Hills.
May 13, 2014 – Final determination received from the PA Office of Open Records confirming that the borough has no plan from Swissvale to take over fire services in Forest Hills.
July 29, 2014 – Fire department ordered by court to pay the borough legal fees in the amount of $1,000 due to right to know appeal.
July 2015 –IRS 990 Form for 2014 – submitted by the fire department reporting Revenue, Expenses, and Changes in Net Assets or Fund Balances.
Council is determined to protect the rights of the citizens of Forest Hills. In April, VFD Vice President Larry Heller submitted a Right to Know request to the borough for a full copy of the list of delinquents who failed to pay the fire protection services fee in 2012 and 2013. Council refused to provide this information and is determined to keep it confidential as there is no reason to publish it as our collection process is ongoing. A copy of the submitted request can be viewed below.
June 3, 2014 – Borough wins final determination and the rights of the residents are upheld with this decision by the court protecting the list of delinquents described in the paragraph above. The Decision can be viewed by clicking this link.
Forest Hills Council issued a press release that explains its concerns with actions taken by the Forest Hills Volunteer Fire Department to unilaterally consider a merger with other departments, specifically the Braddock Hills VFD. Among other issues, council is concerned that Forest Hills tax dollars and fire fee dollars would be used to support another community fire department without commensurate funds from that community thereby solely placing the burden on Forest Hills taxpayers. You can read the press release and see several supporting documents below.