Mount Carmel Fire Police and Clover Hose Fire Company forming partnership
MOUNT CARMEL - Members of Mount Carmel Station 6 are pursuing a new partnership with Clover Hose Fire Company as a result of a disagreement with borough council over management and funding.
Station 6, the borough fire police, had 10 members three months ago, but is now down to just three. The members are President Bob Yeager, Bob Hampton and Randy Kremer.
Yeager said the primary goal of the new partnership is for the fire police to have a headquarters and a place to store its equipment. Right now, the group has neither.
The mission of the fire police is to keep the public a safe distance from hazards and direct traffic away from emergency personnel.
To accomplish this, the organization needs to recruit more members, Yeager pointed out.
"It takes a lot of people to shut down the roads. Not a lot of people want to stand outside and direct traffic for eight hours," he remarked.
Clover Hose Lt. Phil "Bing" Cimino said the fire company would serve as a liaison between the fire police and the borough.
"We're trying to make sure we don't lose them. They're an asset here," Cimino remarked.
Fees and allocations
The partnership with Clover Hose will not involve any kind of rental fees. Yeager said he doesn't know if any funding will come from the fire company itself.
Station 6 has been allocated $250 from each of the four borough fire companies - Anthracite Steam, Clover Hose, American Hose and Chemical and West End, which operates out of American Hose. The borough allocates approximately $7,000 among the companies for equipment and building maintenance.
Over the last three years, Station 6 has requested an allocation of $1,000 in the borough's budget. Because of multiple complaints about the conduct of the fire police, however, Council President Tony Matulewicz said the budget committee recommended not funding the $1,000 allocation in the 2013 budget.
Yeager said the resignation of seven members did not result from funding issues, but from borough council's desire that fire police undergo more extensive training.
Fight during 'Sandy'
In October, former fire police Lt. Harry Zerbe and former member Joseph Kripplebauer told Mayor J. Kevin Jones the unit would not be dispatched for Hurricane Sandy unless the fire police received the allocation. This resulted in a heated exchange between the fire police and Jones.
"We were preparing for a potential disaster. I may have been a bit harsh," Jones said this week. It was not the time to discuss funding, he said.
The fire police never received the allocation.
"I have a concern about the complaints," Matulewicz said. "I'm not going to be extorted and have this over my head."
It is ultimately up to council to allocate the money for the fire police, Yeager said, but he believes the fire police deserve it.
"We're out there like the rest of them are. We're not fighting the fire, but we're out there protecting the scene," Yeager remarked. "We should have some kind of allotment. It saves the street department or the officers from having to do it."
The relationship between Station 6 and the borough deteriorated, and, as a result, the fire police has been out of service since November.
"They felt they were wronged. We felt they were not professional," Matulewicz said.
Back on the road?
Matulewicz welcomes the new arrangement with Clover Hose.
"They provide a valuable service. It's great the Clover stepped forward. If they want to take it over, I think it's a good idea," he said.
The partnership is only in the developmental stage at this time, Cimino noted.
"Right now, we're in the initial process. We're still getting things inventoried," he said.
Yeager hopes to have everything figured out by next week.
"We just hope to get back on the road and do our thing," he said.
Jones has faith in the new partnership between Clover Hose and Station 6.
"Calmer heads have prevailed. It's time to move in a new direction," he said.