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Saturday, May 18, 2024

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Rio Fire Commissioner Seeks Vehicle Policy; No Action Taken

Middle Township officials said an investigation is underway of an allegation that one of the members of the governing Board of Commissioners of the Rio Grande Fire Company used a company vehicle for personal use. One commissioner said the vehicle was involved in an accident. Few details are available.  

By Bill Barlow

RIO GRANDE – A member of the Rio Grande Fire District Board of Commissioners called for a new policy against the personal use of fire company vehicles, stating they should be parked on fire district property when not in use for official business.
The suggestion came from Bob Zimmerman, a member of the five-member fire commission that approves the annual budget for the fire district, according to the recentlyreleased minutes of the commission’s January meeting (https://bit.ly/37Mgyp1).
The use of fire company vehicles became an issue late last year when one of the vehicles was damaged in an accident. According to the meeting minutes, a Tahoe, owned by the fire district, was damaged in December when another car backed into it in a parking lot.
“Bob Zimmerman said that all fire district vehicles should be parked on fire district property. Sal DeSimone said that it would be taken under consideration,” read the minutes of the meeting, which are posted to the district website. 
DeSimone, chairman of the commission, did not respond to several requests for an interview from the Herald after the vehicle’s use was questioned in a Spout Off to the paper.
Those attempts to reach officials with the fire commission became part of the meeting minutes, with two members stating they were contacted by a reporter.
The vehicle was repaired and returned to service.
“Bob Zimmerman wanted to go on record that during the investigation, he is not in favor of fire district vehicles being used for personal use, and that all fire district vehicles should be parked on fire district property,” reads a statement from the meeting.
The Rio Grande Volunteer Fire Company gives monthly reports to the fire commission, but is a separate entity to the five-member commission and is under the command of Fire Chief Richard Sweeten, with its own rules for vehicle usage.
Sweeten said the fire company vehicles are used only for fire company business and emergency responses. The fire district also encompasses the fire bureau, which handles fire inspections and  prevention.
Also, at the January meeting, the commission introduced an annual budget resolution, with total appropriations of $776,738.
This is a developing story, and the Herald will continue to release information when it’s available.

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