Dispute in East Norriton between fire company and township

There is a dispute in East Norriton between its fire company, the Norriton Fire Engine Company, and the township. On November 4th, the fire company released a statement informing the public that its line officers had resigned their positions due to “irreconcilable differences” with township officials and the township responded with its own statement offering that the it was “blindsided” by the announcement.

The announcement of the resignations led the township to temporarily take the fire company out of service. In its’ announcement the township stressed that it has four paid firefighters and volunteers offering fire fighting services.

We are still working on finding out the details on what issues led the line officers to take this action.

Below are the statements from the fire company and the township.

From the fire company:

To the Residents of East Norriton Twp. The line officers of the NFEC have spent the better part of the last 18 months working with the EN Twp. Officials to resolve operational plans.

Due to irreconcilable differences, the Line officers of the Department have resigned effective at 8pm November 4, 2020.

The membership of the NFEC will continue to respond for all emergency calls. The Remaining leadership will continue to attempt to work with EN Twp. Officials for resolution of these conflicts.

From the township:

Residents of East Norriton,

Many of you saw a social media post made late last night by the Norriton Fire Engine Company stating that their line officers had resigned due to differences with Township Officials. This notification blindsided Twp. EMS staff and administration as there was a scheduled meeting with fire company leadership for 1pm today to discuss routine operational procedures as well as proposed compliance procedures. Sadly, there is an abundance of misinformation circulating on social media that only serves to sow confusion and concern. After reading the Fire Company Facebook post, Twp. Officials decided, out of an abundance of caution and in the best interests of our residents, to take the Norriton Fire Company temporarily out of service as we found out more information regarding the sudden and completely unexpected resignation of their officers. Immediately, Twp. Admin contacted Montgomery County to ensure fire protection service to our residents through mutual aide. Twp. Administrators will be meeting with the Fire Company Officials to discuss their officers’ actions and to ensure orderly and comprehensive fire protection coverage to our residents. Please be assured, East Norriton Township has four paid Twp. personnel that provide fire protection coverage five days each week from 7am until 5pm and are joined by the volunteer personnel. East Norriton Township residents should feel safe and secure as to their fire protection. Lastly, I expect both the Twp. and Norriton Fire Company to issue a joint statement sometime tomorrow.

East Norriton Township believes that volunteerism, especially in the fire service is one of the most noble and self-sacrificing commitments a citizen can make to their neighbors and community. As a Twp., we have supported our volunteer fire company to unprecedented levels through the purchase of fire trucks and the implementation of incentive programs to help provide the best service possible as well as to show our heartfelt appreciation for their selfless commitment to our community. In the last few months, we have contracted with a fire services consultant to provide a comprehensive study as to our long-term fire protection needs and goals. We have implemented a stipend program for our volunteers as well as zero-cost Twp. programs and services to help show our appreciation as well as to help retain and recruit new volunteers. We initiated these and other programs with the collaboration of the fire company leadership. For these reasons and more, we were shocked by the sudden and abrupt nature of their line officers’ actions and rationale. We stood behind our volunteers when they came to us identifying operational concerns. The Township Board of Supervisors commissioned a 3rd party agency to perform a needs study so a long-term plan for fire protection could be developed. Our volunteers were and remain key stakeholders in this process.

East Norriton Twp. will be meeting with Norriton Fire Engine Company leadership and are confident that a fruitful and much needed collaborative relationship will develop. Please be mindful of the harmful and misleading social media comments as they are many times driven by personal agendas rather than true concern. Residents should know that East Norriton Township and the membership of Norriton Fire Engine Company share the same mission and goal of protecting the health, safety and welfare of our community.

East Norriton Twp.