No matter how the situation with the Washington Fire Company No. 1 turns out, there are still some gaps in the overall story that have not yet been made public. To help fill these gaps, we have filed a right-to-know (you can view it here) and yesterday we submitted six questions to all members of Borough Council and the Mayor.
The submitted questions are as follows:
1. Was there a vote by Borough Council to remove the fire trucks from the Washington Fire Company. If so, what was the date of the vote, how was it conducted, and how did each member of Borough Council vote?
2. If there wasn’t a vote, which staff member or elected official ordered the removal of the fire trucks?
3. Can you direct me to any local, state and federal laws that require fire companies to provide a full audit vs. an audit of public funds?
4. Why did the Borough remove the fire trucks without notice vs. scheduling a time to do so?
5. While we realize the county was notified of the Washington Fire Company being taken out of service, why didn’t the Borough directly notify neighboring fire companies with mutual aid agreements?
6. Since July 5th, have any of the removed fire trucks been stored at a location that is not a firehouse?
The first two questions are important. The public still does not know how the decision was made and who made it. Answers to these two questions will clear that up.
The third question is meant to clarify what Council member Jane Flanagan stated in a Facebook comment. She referenced that the fire company had not complied with federal, state and local audits. On our own, we have researched whether these type of audits are required and have come up empty. There is a state audit required every two years on volunteer firefighter relief associations, but nothing specific to overall financial records we can find. If you have information on this, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fourth question goes to the decision making process. Why stealth vs. a public acknowledgment that on a specific date the Borough would take this action and everything in regards to public safety would be properly planned for? The fifth question is related to the fourth question.
The sixth question is an interesting one. We are told that there are two fire trucks parked in a Borough-owned garaged at the bottom of West 7th Avenue. Yesterday, we went there and looked, but the garage doors were down. We looked a couple of other places but came up empty as well. The Borough has claimed in its statements that everything is equal when it comes to fire protection. But if even one truck is parked somewhere other than a firehouse, then those statements lack clarity.
Please note that it is still too soon to say that they haven’t answered. We just want to publicly acknowledge that the questions have been asked.