Briarcliffe Fire Company votes to disband itself following allegations of racism

The Briarcliffe Fire Department on Wednesday voted to disband itself, months after the department came under fire for racist comments that were allegedly made by members following an online meeting. 

The announcement came during a packed meeting at the Upper Darby Municipal building. Township Solicitor Michael Pierce read Briarcliffe Fire Department's letter, often time being interrupted by the passionate crowd. 

"Briarcliffe strongly denies anyone in the township was ever treated differently or discriminated against based on race," Pierce read. The letter claims that department members don't want to risk their lives if they're not appreciated and cannot survive financially. 

The disbandment follows and investigation into allegedly racially charged comments made by members of the department during a late January Zoom meeting between township fire companies and commissioners about a potential consolidation. 

According to a letter from the Goodwill Fire Company obtained by FOX 29, following the end of the meeting, a group of people remained on the call. 

The letter says there was then a group of people that could be heard discussing the meeting using foul language, and identifies those involved in the conversation as members of the Briarcliffe Fire Company. 

The conversation, which lasted an hour and 45 minutes, allegedly included racial slurs when discussing members of other fire companies and township residents.

One of the Briarcliffe Fire Company members was also accused of making a joke about, Fanta Bility, a young girl who was killed in a shooting in Sharon Hill last fall.

The department was suspended in February and many called for the company to lose its certification. Over a month later, members voted to disband the department but some are calling for harsher penalties. 

"The standard is not for them to disband voluntarily without an apology. The standard is for the Borough to acknowledge they should be disbanded," State Senator Anthony Williams said. "Do it under their decision, not allow individuals who made those statements to ever return in any form or fashion."

Officials say the Upper Darby Fire Department will cover the area formerly covered by the Briarcliffe Fire Company.





SUBSCRIBE: Good Day Digest Newsletter | FOX 29 Philly on YouTube

FOLLOW: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter