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EDWARD G. WEAVER AND IRENE WEAVER v. UNION CITY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT (11/24/86)

COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: November 24, 1986.

EDWARD G. WEAVER AND IRENE WEAVER, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS
v.
UNION CITY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, APPELLEE

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, in case of Edward G. Weaver and Irene Weaver, his wife v. Union City Volunteer Fire Company, No. 4829-A-1984.

COUNSEL

Donald L. Best, Jr., Jones, Gregg, Creehan and Gerace, for appellant.

John O. Dodick, with him, Donald E. Wright, Jr., Knox, Graham, McLaughlin, Gornall and Sennett, Inc., for appellee.

President Judge Crumlish, Jr., Judge Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by President Judge Crumlish, Jr.

Author: Crumlish

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 299]

The subrogee*fn1 to Edward and Irene Weaver appeals an Erie County Common Pleas Court order granting Union City Volunteer Fire Department's (Volunteer Department) motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

The Weavers sustained property damage due to a fire set by the Volunteer Department during a firefighting training exercise. The fire spread from the Weavers' old barn, the subject of the training exercise, to their new barn.*fn2 The Weavers' subrogee alleged essentially

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 300]

    that the Volunteer Department negligently failed to contain the fire.

A trial court may grant summary judgment when, upon viewing the record most favorably to the non-moving party, it concludes that there is no issue of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Nordmann v. Commonwealth, 79 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 187, 468 A.2d 1173 (1983).

The common pleas court granted summary judgment because it found Union City was a local agency entitled to governmental immunity under 42 Pa. C.S. ยงยง 8541 -- 8564.*fn3

The subrogee contends that the Volunteer Department is not immune because the firefighting training exercise was not an act on behalf of the Borough of Union City. We disagree.

In Wilson v. Dravosburg Volunteer Fire Department No. 1, 101 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 284, 516 A.2d 100 (1986), we held that volunteer fire companies are local agencies entitled to governmental immunity under the 1980 Immunity Act.*fn4 There we stated that "[v]olunteer fire companies, in the performance of public firefighting

[ 102 Pa. Commw. Page 301]

    duties, exists as an entity acting on the behalf of local government units." Id., at 287, 516 A.2d at 102 (emphasis added).

The Borough of Union City officially recognized the Union City Volunteer Fire Department within the borough.*fn5 Thus, the Volunteer Department's acts which can be classified as public firefighting duties are deemed to be on behalf of the borough. We conclude that Union City's firefighting training exercise was within the scope of its public firefighting duties. Therefore, Union City is entitled to immunity under the 1980 Immunity Act.

We hold that the common pleas court properly granted the motion for summary judgment.

Order

The Erie County Common Pleas Court order, No. 4829-A-1984 dated June 6, 1985, is affirmed.

Disposition

Affirmed.


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