2017-07-12 / Front Page

Insurance payout for Great Cacapon fire hall will go to dept.

by Kate Shunney


A July 5, 2016 fire destroyed the former Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company fire hall. file photo by Kate Evans A July 5, 2016 fire destroyed the former Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company fire hall. file photo by Kate Evans A year after a fire gutted the Great Cacapon fire hall, Morgan County officials voted to turn over the proceeds of an insurance policy on that building to the Great Cacapon fire department.

The July 5, 2016 fire was deemed an accident by the Fire Marshal. It quickly tore through the decades-old building, damaging some equipment but injuring none.

Last Wednesday, July 5, the Morgan County Commissioners unanimously agreed to turn over roughly $391,000 in insurance money to the Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department and its board of directors for the purposes of paying for a new fire hall.

Commissioner Bob Ford proposed the idea last month, saying if the county led the construction project, it would cost roughly $100,000 extra in order to meet state codes governing public buildings.

Ford said Prosecuting Attorney Debra McLaughlin gave her legal opinion about the option to simply turn over the insurance money to the fire department.

“Her opinion is it’s our money and we can do what we want,” he said.

Ford said he recommended giving the insurance proceeds to the fire department, but require an accounting of how the funds were spent. He said the money shouldn’t be used for firefighting equipment or other general uses.

The Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Department will have to provide their own insurance going forward, said Ford.

Commission President Joel Tuttle said he didn’t have a problem turning the money and project over to the fire department. He estimated the insurance funds wouldn’t be enough to pay for a new building with a sprinkler system if the county had to direct the project.

“If we had to build it, we couldn’t. The fire suppression alone costs a quarter of a million,” said Ford.

Tuttle specified that the costs paid by the county to clear the remains of the burned building and level the site would be reimbursed from the insurance proceeds.

The county has already received an insurance payout in the amount of $414,846.

Asbestos abatement, fencing around the fire site and demolition and disposal of the burned building cost the Morgan County Commission $23,710, according to County Administrator Jody McClintock.

The remaining $391,136 will go to the Great Cacapon fire company for construction costs.

The fire company built a four-bay metal building last fall with their own funds to house its equipment on a lot across the street from the former fire hall.

Ford said insurance funds will allow the company to add onto the building for meeting and bunkhouse space, and to install a sprinkler system.

“I think this will be the most efficient, effective way to continue fire service in Great Cacapon,” said Tuttle.

Ford indicated that county officials were still negotiating with the insurance company to get a larger payout on the fire.

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