JACKSON TWP. — A weighty issue faces homeowners with private bridge access — either upgrade the bridge to support a fire truck or inform their insurance carriers of a fire protection difficulty, according to township supervisors Monday.
The option for homeowners is a costly one, but one of safety for both the property owner and the fire department.
In December, a residential fire had the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department crews facing the need to cross a privately owned bridge unable to support the weight of the fire trucks, said Dan Manzoni, fire chief at Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department.
“We had to call in the Trucksville Volunteer Fire Department,” he said.
The fire call created a need for township officials and the fire department to exam other privately-owned bridges and the safety issues the structures may present for fire and emergency response vehicles.
Some bridges may be too narrow or unable to carry the full weight of a fire truck, said Al Fox, vice-chairman of the Jackson Township supervisors.
“We have several privately owned bridges,” Manzoni said.
Two of Jackson Township’s fire trucks weight about 36,000 pounds each, Manzoni said
“The tanker truck weights about 65,000 pounds,” he said.
To protect the township from future liability, John J. Wilkes Jr., chairman of the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department, met with the township’s insurance carrier.
“We have to identify the (privately owned) bridges where we cannot get a township fire truck through,” Wilkes said. “Then, a letter will be mailed to the homeowner explaining that there is a difficulty in receiving fire protection to that home.”
“Is that letter coming from you?” Manzoni asked the township supervisors.
“No, it would come from the fire department,” township solicitor Jeffrey Malak said. “It is a private issue the township is not involved in it.”
Malak did offer to provide a draft letter the fire department could use.
“We want to make it so both the homeowner and their insurance company understand the situation,” Fox said.
The next meeting of the Jackson Township supervisors is slated for 6 p.m. April 4 in the municipal building.