HAVERFORD, TWP., Pa. - A Delaware County fire company has been shut down. Township officials say they had no choice because of one of the member's alleged connection to an extremist group.
The lights were out and the garage bays were empty at the Bon Air Fire Company in Haverford Wednesday night. Volunteers weren’t responding to calls after township officials ordered the company shut down because fire company leaders refused to accept the resignation of a volunteer allegedly affiliated with an extremist group.
Township Police Chief John Viola says an investigation revealed that a volunteer here was associating with the group identified by sources as the Proud Boys of Philadelphia, which is a right-wing, neo-fascist organization. The chief said the veteran volunteer firefighter, attended meetings and sought initiation, and even engaged in hazing. The volunteer claims he backed away from the group, then resigned from the fire company. The fire company board refused to accept his resignation.
"The township manager decision was to remove the fire apparatus from the Bon Air Fire Company and shut them down temporarily until this can be resolved," Chief Viola said.
Officials say the extremist group claims to be chauvinistic, in favor of closed borders, refuses to accept women or transgender men and is in favor of “venerating the housewife.” Fire company officials refused to comment Wednesday night.
"The policy in the township is everybody has a right to live without any bias. The township felt there were problems here that had to be addressed," Chief Viola said.
A lawyer said the volunteer was not a member of the extremist group. Township officials insist neighbors will not see an interruption in services. Four other fire companies will now help protect the community with the next closest fire company just a half-mile away. Officials insist residents should not notice a difference in response times.
The fire company's statement can be found below.