The Public Opinion
CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Town Council of the Borough of Chambersburg authorized the filing of a lawsuit against the International Association of Fire Fighters 1813 (the union representing paid fire fighters in the Borough), Fire Captain Patrick Martin, who works as a paid fire fighter in the borough, and Scott McNew, another paid firefighter who works for the borough.
According to a news release from the borough, the action was approved by council "to protect life and property within the borough." Borough Solicitor G. Bryan Salzmann filed a complaint and requested the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas to immediately issue an injunction requiring the defendants to stop requesting and/or directing various volunteer firefighters from responding to fires within the Borough.
According to the borough's attorney, "Council reacted to letters sent by Mr. Martin and Mr. McNew that urged volunteer firefighters who also belonged to the fire union not to respond to fire calls and charged those volunteer members that have responded over the past year to fire and/or emergency calls with violations of the union bylaws."
The action was filed Tuesday, May 8.
According to James Hull, president of the Franklin Fire Company, many members of his company received letters from the union asking that they "refrain from providing volunteer firefighting services to the borough." In addition, internal charges within the union were brought against the members for their continued volunteerism. According to the release, Hull stated that such a request has created a stressful situation for the volunteers, forcing them to make a "choice between facing ridicule, harassment, and potential discipline, and providing essential public safety services."
The release also stated Judge Richard Walsh entered a temporary injunction granting the borough council's requested relief. The order from Judge Walsh stated that "Defendants are hereby ordered to cease and desist encouraging, sanctioning, and supporting a secondary boycott of volunteer fire services in the Chambersburg Fire Department." The order also took effect immediately and the court scheduled a hearing before the Judge Angela R. Krom for Friday, May 11, but was postponed at the request of both parties. A further hearing may be scheduled upon the request of either party, but no earlier than June 1, according to Salzmann.
Meanwhile volunteer firefighters are expected to respond to emergencies within the Borough "without fear of reprisals" according to the release.
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