To Certify or Decertify

To Decertify or to Recertify; that is the question. I have read the letter that Bellevue Borough Council distributed to justify their decision to de-certify Columbia Hose Hook and Ladder (CHHL). I have also talked to a n established member of CHHL. There are problems, but I am not sure the problems are insurmountable. In the opinion of the CHHL member, some of the Council’s statements are erroneous or incomplete. I was told that Council was aware of the planned merger with Ben Avon and that it had been discussed in a meeting. I was also told that the CHHL was audited every two years and no deficiencies were found.  Having served in Bellevue Borough’s government for 30 years, I can remember a number of problems we had with CHHL. Bellevue has been well served by CHHL for many years. But times and circumstances have changed, (i. e. volunteer availability, training requirements, etc.).  Maybe Council is right. Maybe it is time to have a full, professional Fire Fighting Organization serving the North Boroughs. It will be expensive. Between $1,000,000.00- and $2,000,000.00-dollars operating cost per year would not surprise me. (I do not believe the services by the City of Pittsburgh will be “free” for very long.) Perhaps hiring a professional fire chief (and an assistant chief) to work with CHHL and the Borough would suffice. There are so many options. I believe Council is doing what they think is in the best interest of the Borough’s residents. However, I think the public should be involved. I would suggest a Study Commission, including representatives of citizens, Council, CHHL, other municipalities, and professional advisors.  This is too important to rush through.


Paul Cusick, former Mayor of Bellevue