The Starbrick Volunteer Fire Department is interested in forming a search and rescue crew.
And the Conewango Township supervisors largely gave the effort their blessing.
At Monday night's meeting, Starbrick VFD Chief Kirk Foust said that there is interest in the department for developing such a response capability. He said that a search and rescue crew in Starbrick would be the only such entity in Warren County.
Foust said the arrangement would work much like the mutual aid agreements that are in place currently which allow departments to assist each other in responding to emergency situations.. He said there wouldn't be any funding constraints placed on the township because funding would come from the Starbrick VFD relief association.
Foust added that the Warren County Sheriff's Office is "backing the idea" and willing to help provide training. He noted that there are individuals who currently serve with the Wrightsville department that would be interested in joining Starbrick to participate in this new unit. Allowing that would require a bylaw amendment as the bylaws currently require all members to live within five miles of the township border, Foust explained.
While the supervisors indicated no concern about developing the response capability, the concern was raised about who is responsible for workmens compensation insurance in the event an individual is injured during a response outside of their municipality.
"That's a problem," Supervisor Chuck Barone said of the crews potentially leaving the township. Supervisor Linda Swanson indicated that the township a unit is working for would be liable but no one at the meeting was quite sure.
Rich Barrett, president of Warren County Fire Services said in an email on Wednesday that "the firefighter is covered under his department worker's compensation insurance when responding to anything within his area. This is why the department must be dispatched for the person to respond." The home township is also responsible for coverage when a department is dispatched to another municipality.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency could dispatch a certified search and rescue team anywhere in the state, such as when Glade Water Rescue responded to flooding in the eastern part of the state last year. In that event, PEMA would provide workmens compensation coverage.