A more than 100-year-old volunteer fire department was shut down in Pennsylvania after the company refused to fire a volunteer fireman who reportedly tried to join a hate group.
Haverford Township officials removed firetrucks and equipment from the Bon Air Fire Company Wednesday after learning last month a fireman tried to join the far-right group Proud Boys, according to ABC affiliate WPVI-TV.
The company was about 10 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The fireman, whose name hasn’t been released publicly, admitted to officials that he went through part of the initiation process for the hate group before distancing himself from the group, the news station reported.
The volunteer even tried to resign from the fire department, but the fire company’s board saw no reason to accept his resignation, WPVI reported.
“Going through initiation with the Proud Boys, associating yourself with the Proud Boys that is disqualifying in Haverford Township, if you’re going to have a Haverford Township uniform on,” Haverford Township Board Commissioner Larry Holmes told the news station.
When the fire board failed to fire the volunteer, the township closed the entire company, which the entity called “wrong and harmful to the community” in a statement WPVI obtained.
The company defended the volunteer.
“While the volunteer attended some social gatherings of the outside organization, the volunteer ultimately decided, after he learned more about the group’s beliefs, that he did not wish to become part of the organization,” the fire company said in the statement. “He never attended any rallies or protests and he disassociated himself from the group more than one year ago.
“He has broken no law and committed no crime. In his actions as a firefighter, the volunteer has not acted in any way which suggests that his behavior would be influenced by this organization.”
The company went on to say that as a result of the decision to close the fire company’s doors, there are 37 fewer well-trained active crew members.
“The members of the Bon Air Fire Company devote their time and risk their own safety on behalf of the residents of our community,” the company said in the statement. “We care about keeping all residents of our community safe.”
Officials have said fire service for Bon Air will instead be provided by four other companies in Haverford Township: Brookline Llanerch, Manoa and Oakmont, WPVI reported.