Parkland Press

Saturday, December 15, 2018
FILE PHOTOThis photo from the Feb. 23 Parkland bus garage fire shows the damage done to the bus fleet. Copyright - Lou Wheeland FILE PHOTOThis photo from the Feb. 23 Parkland bus garage fire shows the damage done to the bus fleet. Copyright - Lou Wheeland

School board given report on fire aftermath

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by SUSAN RUMBLE Special to The Press in Local News

Parkland School Board President David Kennedy started the Feb. 27 meeting with expressions of gratitude to the organizations and individuals who provided assistance during the garage and bus fire five days earlier.

“I want to sincerely thank the seven fire departments, Cetronia Ambulance, South Whitehall police, and Parkland personnel,” Kennedy said. “Our garage mechanics removed 14 buses parked next to the garage and saved them.

“The American Red Cross showed up with coffee and food for the workers.

“It was a long weekend for everyone and greatly appreciated by the board.”

Superintendent Richard Sniscak reported his colleagues at school districts throughout the Lehigh Valley rallied around, and offered buses, windshields and mirrors.

He commented on the work behind the scenes to have buses ready to go for school the Monday after the fire.

“The transportation department did a yeoman’s job,” Sniscak said.

“All the staff pitched in. Safety was paramount.”

“We want to get our kids to school safely. It was a big team effort to get to this point.”

David Keppel, director of school services, said a fleet of buses to replace of the ones lost in the fire was assembled to transport students.

We took every single spare out of our inventory and had our own district mechanics working all weekend to repair the buses which were damaged but not burned, Keppel said.

The district is leasing buses from Brightbill Body Works and Wolfington, vendors which supply buses to school districts.

These will be used to cover field trips, athletic events or breakdowns, noted Keppel.

He said Parkland was OK without borrowing buses from other districts.

“On Monday all Parkland School District buses were on the road,” Keppel said.

Business Manager John Vignone reported the buses and garage were covered by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company.

“They’re top of the line,” Vignone said. “The district had proper insurance in place. We have a local broker, Myers, Benner, Corp. who ties everything together.

“We’re in the very initial stages [of the insurance claim]. The adjusters are just getting here, and we’re putting together requests for reimbursement.”

Sniscak said the 16 destroyed buses were worth $1.6 million. The garage was valued at $160,000.

In addition, the claim will include rental costs for the leased buses, payment for employees who worked on the scene, and cleanup.

“When the dust settles, it will be over $2 million in the claim,” Sniscak said.

The district will need to pay a $5,000 deductible toward the garage insurance claim.

Alvin H. Butz, Inc. has been hired to perform the cleanup and to rebuild the garage after the investigation has been closed.