Officials in Haverford Township in Philadelphia are shutting down a volunteer fire company after finding out that one of its members has ties to a group that some consider extreme or hateful.
The Bon Air Fire Company has been servicing the community since 1918, but now its doors are closed after one of its members had an affiliation with a hate group.
“What we found was not to the liking and to the ideology of Haverford Township,” said Haverford Township Police Chief John Viola.
Viola says an anonymous tip came in about a firefighter’s affiliation with a hate group on Aug. 14. Days later, the Board of Commissioners recommended the member give his resignation despite no criminal activity.
“On Aug. 15 we were notified and then shortly thereafter we were told that the Board of Directors of Bon Air Fire Company refused the resignation,” said Viola.
That refusal lead to an executive session.
“The magistrate’s decision was that we would remove the fire apparatus from the Bon Air Fire Company and shut them down temporarily until this can be resolved,” said Viola.
The group wasn’t confirmed by Viola, but is believed to be The Proud Boys. It’s a group that only admits men and describes itself as “western chauvinists.” Their values include closed borders, anti-political correctness and a regression of women’s rights.
“He admitted that he was a member,” said Viola. “He attended two session with them. He did some hazing with them and then he said he tried to pull away from them a little bit but he never said he resigned from them.”
Now the entire company’s doors are shut.
“There was a fire here a couple weeks ago. They just had to put it out,” said a local resident.
“It’s sad a 100-year-old fire company is shutting down,” said another resident.
President of the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners Andy Lewis sent out a statement saying, “As individuals and public officials, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure that no tax dollars are used to support an individual or organization that is discriminatory in any way.”
The fire trucks and equipment have been redistributed to four other fire companies that are in the area. Neighbors say they are not concerned about this though because response time in the area for fires are very good. The closest company is only about a half mile away.