On Monday, Oct. 15, the Town of Mansfield Board of Directors unanimously carried a motion to enlist the services of National Fire Adjustment Co., Inc. (NFA) to handle the complicated insurance claims process related to the fire that destroyed the town’s highway department building and its contents on Sunday, Oct. 7.
NFA representatives Bill Troy and Jim Shephard attended the meeting and explained that its licensed insurance adjusters work as advocates for the policyholder – not the insurance company. They know the insurance industry inside and out and will thoroughly research the town policy’s provisions, stipulations and riders to ensure that Mansfield receives the full settlement to which it is entitled.
NFA’s first steps will be work with town officials to:
-accurately reconstruct the building exactly as it existed – but on paper – and have their estimators provide a thorough valuation;
-inventory all contents of the building, such as tools, machines, supplies, office contents, etc., and assign values to each item;
-assess the age and value of all seven vehicles destroyed in the fire;
-request an advance from the insurance company to cover the immediate and urgent costs of converting the old barn into a temporary garage for winter 2012-13, along with purchase of equipment needed to get the transportation department operational and able to protect the public safety.
“The size and magnitude of this claim is beyond the expertise of the average person,” said Town Supervisor Bob Keis. “You don’t have just one settlement.”
Each vehicle, each tool, each office item requires preparation of a separate claim.
“NFA knows what to look for and knows how to read the fine print. We need the experts to deal with this so we can focus on getting ready for the coming months,” he explained.
In order to keep things moving quickly and efficiently, the board approved a motion to declare a state of emergency for purchasing purposes. This enables the town to quickly make purchasing decisions for equipment, tools and other supplies for the Highway department over the next several months.
Brad Hurley, deputy highway superintendent, presented estimates for a number of needed services and equipment. The board approved the following:
-purchase of a new pickup with plow to replace the town pickup destroyed in the fire;
-purchase of a John Deere 544K loader to replace the new loader destroyed in the fire;
-purchase of and upgrades to a used contractor’s trailer from J. D. Northrup Construction to house offices and restrooms for highway department staff during the winter;
-authorization to contract for necessary upgrades to the old barn that will be used as a temporary garage during the winter. Upgrades include ceiling construction, insulation, electric, plumbing, heating, cement floor installation, garage door repair or replacement, fans, and other items as needed;
-authorization to locate and order a replacement plow and grader.
The board also agreed that development of plans for construction of a new transportation building should take place over the next few months and that the new structure should be carefully sited and designed to meet the long-term needs of the town.
While the highway department losses and insurance issues took top priority at this first board meeting since the fire, other important business was addressed as well. Two scheduled public hearings were held: one to override the tax levy limit of 2 percent for fiscal year 2013, the other to hear public comment on the 2013 budget. There were no objections/comments from the public, and both issues were put forward as resolutions and approved by the board.
In addition, the board approved the appointment of Leslie Ellis to the town planning board. Keis also asked the board to appoint Marilyn Hintz as chair of the town’s zoning board of appeals and to ask her to convene a meeting of that board to hear an appeal that needs resolution.