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Insurance Excess

Editorial for May 14, 2009

Insurance excess

Do we have to let insurance companies determine every move we make these days?

The recent decision by Fire District No. 3 to no longer allow the Snowden Community Council to meet at the Cherry Lane Fire Station or the Husum-BZ Corner Community Council to meet at the Husum Fire Station is unfortunate.

This move is particularly distasteful for the Snowden Community Council. First, because the council has met at that station for the past 30 years; and second, because there is no surplus of gathering places in the Snowden area. It will be absurd if members of the Snowden Community Council have to meet at the White Salmon Community Library, for example. That kind of goes against the whole idea of a "community" council.

We understand there are liability issues involved, as there seems to be with anything. If someone gets hurt at a fire station and sues the fire district, that puts the fire district at risk.

No one wants that. But isn't there another solution beyond charging the councils $83 per meeting for liability protection? Frankly, this sounds like a way for the insurance companies to add a little gravy on top of the fees they already get from the fire districts for their insurance coverage.

How about having everyone who enters each public meeting sign a "hold harmless" statement for the hour or two they are at the station? Wouldn't that be sufficient?

Barring the councils from using these facilities for a monthly meeting seems harsh and unreasonable. Expecting the councils to pay nearly $1,000 per year to be able to relatively briefly meet at the fire stations once a month also is excessive.

The community councils around the county have been very supportive of their respective fire districts. The councils have continually prioritized funds for fire equipment or upgrading of firefighting infrastructure when it is time for the councils to decide how to spend the annual Economic Development Authority grants from the county's landfill fund.

That just makes it even more illogical that the fire district is bowing to its insurance company and closing the doors to its stations. In effect, that is inhibiting some of its strongest backers from meeting.

It won't be too long until the EDA funds are being distributed again. Perhaps, rather than asking for additional firefighting gear, the Snowden Community Council and the Husum-BZ COrner Community Council will be forced to ask instead for funds to build a new meeting hall.

Who wins with that?

JB

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