Craig Beach Volunteer Fire Department not active with the state - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Craig Beach Volunteer Fire Department not active with the state

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CRAIG BEACH, Ohio - 21 News has obtained new information about why the Craig Beach Volunteer Fire Department was not called for mutual aid at two fires in the village.

It was around 10 a.m. on Tuesday when one house caught fire on Afton Avenue in Craig Beach, and then the fire quickly spread to a second home.

Both homes were destroyed.

Palmyra Township Fire just over the line in Portage County, provided mutual aid, and was the first of five departments to arrive on the scene.

Palmyra Township's Fire Chief says he can understand why residents are frustrated that their own hometown fire department didn't have the authority to respond, when the fire station is located only a few blocks away, but he says there's good reason.

Not only is Craig Beach Fire not listed as an active department by the State Fire Marshal, they are allegedly not covered by worker's compensation, and their equipment allegedly hasn't been safety checked in years.

"That poses a whole big liability issue for us because their personnel is not covered under any kind of workman's compensation. If something would happen to one of their personnel we assume all of the liability of having to cover all of their medical bills, medical costs. If something would happen, and they crash a truck and somebody would get killed, we're liable for all that," says Mark Garvin, Chief of the Palmyra Township Fire Department.

Garvin says that is a major risk and liability they can't afford, so they can't even use Craig Beach Fire for mutual aid, and that is why Milton Township Fire couldn't afford to ask for their help on Tuesday at the Afton Avenue fires.

Craig Beach Volunteer Fire is a non-profit organization which owns it's own building and trucks.

It ran into financial problems with Craig Beach Village officials and the state in 2007 when they couldn't provide financial records for an audit showing how levy money was used.

At that time a different fire chief and officers were in charge of the volunteer department.

Village administrators contracted with Milton Township Fire to handle all Craig Beach fire and EMS calls through 2015, saying they can't trust taxpayer money a group that can't keep good records.

Palmyra's Fire Chief says even if Craig Beach could have responded to the fires, they are still a volunteer department with no firefighters on-station, so they couldn't have responded to the scene any sooner

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