Allegheny County

Bellevue council votes to decertify fire department; Pittsburgh expected to handle coverage

BELLEVUE, Pa. — Bellevue council voted to decertify the borough’s fire department at a meeting Tuesday night.

According to a councilmember and the fire chief, the vote came after a councilmember presented a report on the fire service

A vote to decertify Columbia Hose, Hook and Ladder Co. 1, the Bellevue volunteer fire company, was not on Tuesday’s agenda.

“The problems have existed for quite some time that we have not been able to address as a council,” said Sabreena Miller, a Bellevue councilmember. “We’ve not been able to address in general, which has led to this point.”

Miller, who voted against the motion, said the report was not presented in advance and the motion was made effective immediately. It was passed on a 6-2 vote.

“The way that it just kicked out, at a moments notice, right now, in the middle of the street, figuring it out,” Miller said, “That is not the way I would have wanted to say goodbye to a, what I feel, is an asset to the borough despite its challenges. So, I am sad about that.”

The fire department said that Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will handle coverage.

Volunteer firefighters told us they are devastated, saying they were blindsided by the move. Some say the borough does not have the best interests of the community in mind.

“Kinda out of nowhere, blindsided,” said Glenn Pritchard, current chief. “They decided to make a motion despite it not being on the agenda and in fact it blindsided a few of the council members who were not aware that this was coming at all. I think it’s felt deep that council has spoken. I don’t think that a lot of the residents of the borough are going to approve of this or like it, especially when they didn’t have a say or any information to the contrary on either side of this.”

Pritchard is not sure what exactly happens now, but hopes that all of the volunteers continue to service communities in the future.

Cara Cruz, a Pittsburgh Public Safety information officer, sent the following statement to Channel 11:

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire will be providing the residents of Bellevue with mutual aid as the municipality reimagines its own fire services.

Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire would like to reassure residents that there will be no disruption to their emergency services during this process.

It would be premature at this time for the Department of Public Safety to provide definitive information regarding the financial obligation of this service.

Jodi Cerminara, president of the borough council, sent the following open letter to residents and property owners.

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