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9/10/92 AMP:SBO:kgf DJ# 192-180-12198 SEP 22 1992 The Honorable Rick Santorum Member, United States House of Representatives 200 Fleet Street, Suite 4000 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220 Dear Congressman Santorum: This letter responds to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Kathryn Bommer, who seeks information regarding what action her volunteer fire department must take in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She also requests information regarding the availability of Federal financial assistance to make changes mandated by ADA. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in responding to your constituent. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of your constituent's rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. When the fire department uses its second floor banquet facilities for public fund raising activities or private parties, the department is considered to be a public accommodation subject to the responsibilities of title III of the ADA. The general obligations of public accommodations under title III are discussed in the enclosed title III Technical Assistance Manual. With respect to barrier removal obligations, which seem to be of particular concern to your constituent, title III of the ADA and this Department's implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 36 (copy enclosed), only require the removal of barriers in existing facilities where such barrier removal is "readily achievable", that is, "easily accomplishable with little difficulty or expense." The requirement for readily achievable barrier removal is discussed in more detail in section 36.304 of

the title III rule and on pages 28-36 of the Technical Assistance Manual. :udd:pecht:santorum.ltr cc: Records, CRS, FOIA, Friedlander (3), Pecht, McDowney, Breen 01-01565​ -2As discussed in section 36.104 of the rule, whether barrier removal is readily achievable is to be considered in light of a number of factors including the overall financial resources available to the entity. The obligations of a volunteer fire department under this standard would certainly never, as suggested by your constituent, rise to a level that would require the fire department to close its doors. The use of the volunteer fire department's banquet hall as a polling place is covered by the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, 42 U.S.C. 1977ee-1. For further information on the applicability of that Act to the situation described by your constituent, you may wish to contact the Federal Election Commission. You should also be aware that, where the operations of a volunteer fire department are closely linked to those of a local governmental entity, the operations of that volunteer department may be covered by title II of the ADA, which covers State and local governmental entities. In order to determine whether a volunteer fire department is covered by the requirements of title II, it is necessary to examine the relationship between the company and the unit of local government. The factors to be considered include whether the company is operated with public funds; whether the employees, if any, are considered government employees; whether the government provides significant assistance to the company by providing equipment or property; and whether it is governed by an independent board selected by the members of a private organization or is elected by the voters or appointed by elected officials. If a volunteer department is considered an entity covered by title II, it must operate its programs and activities so that, when viewed in their entirety, such programs and activities are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The concept of "program access" is discussed in sections 35.149 and 35.150 of this Department's title II regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, and on pages 19-22 of the title

II Technical Assistance Manual (copies enclosed). However, as stated in section 35.150(a)(3) of the title II rule, a title II entity is not required to take any actions that it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration of its services, programs, or activities, or in undue financial and administrative burdens. With respect to Federal funding for barrier removal, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides community development block grants designed to assist low and moderate income households and communities. These grants may be used to remove architectural barriers that restrict accessibility to publicly owned and privately owned buildings, facilities, and improvements. For information on applying for a community development block grant, Ms. Bommer should contact HUD's Office of Block Grant Assistance at (202)708-3587. 01-01566​ -3I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent's inquiry. Sincerely, James P. Turner Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2) 01-01567​ OPTION INDEPENDENT FIRE COMPANY OF BALDWIN BOROUGH 825 STREETS RUN ROAD PITTSBURGH, PA 15236

August 06, 1992 Congressman Rick Santorum 200 Fleet Street Room 4000 Pittsburgh, PA 15220 Dear Congressman Santorum: I am writing to you as a follow up to my phone conversation with Bruce Barron on 08/05/92. We, the members of the Option Independent Fire Company are in need of you and your staffs assistance. We are in need of some answers pertaining to the American Disabilities Act, which was recently put in to effect. We are a non-profit, all volunteer organization in Baldwin Borough,

which serves as a polling place for the fifth district and we have a small banquet hall that we rent out for private gatherings and we use for fund raising events that is on the second floor. Our problem is we are unable to make all of the necessary changes to our hall as mandated by the American Disabilities Act without causing severe financial problems to our association. We are asking if there is any type of Federal grants or assistance available for the needed structural changes, and since we are both a public polling place and a private banquet hall, where do we fall in the eyes of the Act? We use our banquet hall for public fund raising activities such as Lenten fish fries, spaghetti dinners etc., as well as private parties to help pay for our State loans that we currently have on our new fire trucks. If we are forced to close our banquet hall due to non compliance of the Act, because of all the necessary mandated changes to make our fire company accessible to the handicapped for both the polling center and banquet hall, we would soon have to close our company due to lack of funds. We have spoken with an architect who stated the necessary changes include widening the entrance door, replacing two (2) bathrooms, one on each floor and changing them to be handicapped accessible and to install a chair lift on the staircase to the second floor. He stated the cost to be under ten thousand (10,000.00) dollars. We are asking for any help that your office can give us in this matter, since it is not our intention to have to close our doors to the public. Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 412-881-5158. Sincerely, Kathryn R. Bommer Secretary