Morgan Ahart | Feb 21, 2023
PERRY TOWNSHIP — Perry Township is proceeding with an insurance claim to replace equipment compromised by exposure to chemicals released while assisting in the emergency response to the train derailment in East Palestine.
In their Feb. 13 meeting the trustees said that the township had begun the claim process through the company and that a report of all impacted materials for both the police and fire departments was being compiled to submit as part of the claim. Chairman Steve Bailey said that the insurance company had advised the best course of action was for the township to submit the report to them, and that the company would then seek restitution for the replacement costs from the appropriate parties.
Bailey also said that the insurer had instructed them not to purchase any replacements until an adjustor could evaluate the claim and advise the township further.
As a result, trustees tabled a motion to purchase six new tires for engine 72 from Salem Tire Pros for $4,037.88 until the insurance company completed its inspection, and also requested a pause on any further replacements until the inspection was completed. Bailey said that should the tires be covered by the insurance claim there would not be a need to re-introduce the resolution as the cost of the replacements would not need to be drawn from township funds.
Fire Chief Brandon Smith said that he had already ordered the replacements for the seven sets of turnout gear used in the response, as they have a six- to eight-week delivery period, and the department’s spare equipment was “on the borderline of expired” and delay risked seven men being forced to be removed from service. He also said the equipment was necessary regardless, and that if the insurer denies the claims for the replacement of the turnout gear he would not authorize the use of the contaminated equipment.
“I, as a fire chief, am not putting my name on that gear or putting people back in that gear,” said Smith.
Bailey agreed that the exposed gear should be replaced, and that should such a situation arise the township would replace the gear regardless, but requesting nothing further be ordered until the township could discuss the matter further with their insurer. Bailey said that the trustees request was simply because the process for replacing the equipment through the claim had not yet been determined and often insurers will refuse to cover any costs not filed according to their procedures.
“We need to make sure we’re following these guidelines, because just your turnout gear is going to be $20,000 and we don’t want them to come in and say, ‘You didn’t do it right, so we’re not going to cover it.’ We don’t know what the procedures are yet,” said Bailey.
Trustees and Smith also made the decision to take engine 72 out of service until its condition can be evaluated more closely following its exposure while in service responding to the event for the safety of the department’s firefighters.
“You can’t go wrong with erring on the side of caution,” said Smith.
Smith also said that the township had pictures of the engine covered in smoke from the incident, and that potential contaminants could be in “any little spot in that truck” or that issues could even surface years down the road, as due to the unprecedented nature of the incident and exposure it is unclear what long-term impacts equipment would experience.
The trustees also approved a resolution for the purchase of a Freightliner plow truck for the township for $99,227 from Stoops Freightliner and to purchase a stainless-steel bed and other plow accessories from Kalida Body Equipment for $82,500. The funds typically used for paving and chip and seal projects that weren’t necessary in 2022 are being used for the purchase. Bailey said the truck should be ready for service by fall.
It was also announced that the South Township Building will no longer be utilized as a polling station in the upcoming general election. Trustee Jim Armeni said that anyone who voted there would have their polling station changed to the Church at the Center on South Lincoln and would be notified by mail by the board of elections. The South Building will remain a backup polling station.
Other business included the approval of a resolution to appropriate $24,975.38 for small tools and equipment in the SFM Equipment Grant Fund.
The board of trustees will meet next at 4 p.m. Feb. 27.
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