Colwyn votes to extinguish its fire dept.

May 27, 2008 8:46:46 PM PDT
A tiny Delaware County community voted Tuesday night to get rid of its fire department. It's the latest chapter in this saga over what state police say was a speakeasy being operated out of the fire house. The fire company refused to give it up saying its a much needed fundraising tool. And so tonight, Council President Tonnette Pray says council had no choice but to take drastic action.

Without any discussion, Colwyn Boro Council voted 4 to 3 to no longer recognize the boro's only fire company to fight fires - a job that will be handled temporarily by neighboring Darby and Collingdale.

Councilwoman Kathy Brennan, a member of the fire company's controversial social club, was fuming as council also put up for a vote whether to recognize the club's Firemen's Relief Association. Moments later the meeting came to an abrupt end with Brennan storming out in disgust.

Mayor John Fitzgerald, who up until recently was the president of the fire company, also left the meeting in disgust.

The controversy stems from a "social club" operated by former members of the fire company and others that they say is used as a fundraiser. But things came to a head a few weeks ago when state police raided the place carting away liquor and gambling machines. Boro council had asked the company to shutdown the bar. The club refused, and now this.

Council President Tonnette Pray said, "We had to do something because our fire house has been down since May 8th. And they're unwilling to work with us."

Some residents were pleased with council's actions.

Colwyn resident Chris Broach tells Action News, "Every single person who denied that vote today happens to be a member of that social club. So, to me it seems like they're more important, I mean, that club is more important to them than our boro and our safety."

The fire company, which was founded in 1903 and still possesses the 1st horse-drawn hose cart it ever owned along with several million dollars in trucks and equipment, was defiant to the bitter end.

Fire Company President Earl Reed told reporters, "If they wanna start their new fire company they gotta go out and get a million to two million dollars to start it. OK. We're fighting fires for other communities. We're gonna figure out the insurance and we're gonna go from there."

So as of right now, the Boro of Colwyn does not have a fire company. For the time being, it will rely on Darby Fire Company 1 and 2, and if need be Collingdale, to fight its fires. With the District Attorney's office currently investigating the mess, when and if it gets its own fire company is still very much in the air.