Thursday, February 5, 2015

why oh why continue the legal suit between the Borough Council and the Volunteer Fire Company

I really thought the issues between the Newfield Borough Council and the Newfield Volunteer Fire  Company had been shelved.  Even members of the Borough Council mentioned how the legal fight had been taking Borough funds that could be better spent elsewhere.  But my hopes were wrong.  The legal actions have not been shelved per an article in the Courier-Post on February 1, 2015.

Personally, not having access to the court documents and pertinent case law, it puzzles me that the court could rule that the Borough Council has authority over an all-volunteer organization regarding its officers, membership, etc.  Borough Council has that authority over the Police Department, but it pays the police officers salaries and other usual funds related to employment.  Yes, Borough Council does own the trucks and other fire equipment that taxpayer funds paid for and they could choose a different volunteer organization to use them in case of fires and other emergencies.  I can even see them putting out a request for proposals to area volunteer fire companies  that spelled out requirements such as response time, certifications, residency, age ranges for active members but it would be highly unusual for such requests to include how the responding organization is to be run or to say who is to run it even if the request were for a contract that involved funding.  When the US Department of Defense puts out requests for proposals to the aerospace companies, the requests do not include qualifications detailing the name of the person they want to manage the contract in each company responding.  It isn't important.  Why it is important between the Borough Council and the Volunteer Fire Company,  I have no clue.

There is a second, niggling topic in the Courier-Post article.  That is, whether the Star-Cross Volunteer Fire Company has replaced the Forest Grove one as backup or not.  The article gives no reason for this change and when I queried an officer of the Newfield Volunteer Fire Company as to that reason, he wasn't even certain that a change had been made at all.  That is disturbing on many levels.  One, the Gloucester County Fire Coordinator was misquoted; two, the Gloucester County Fire Coordinator was misinformed; three, the Newfield Volunteer Fire Company officers are not communicating sufficiently; four, the Newfield Volunteer Fire Company Chief made a decision and the choice had not yet been communicated; five, either the Star-Cross or the Forest Grove companies have not accepted such a change, and so on.  Worse, I still don't know why a change was being discussed or implemented.  Could Forest Grove have requested it because they have their own problems and Star-Cross is the best alternative? I don't know.  Yet, the article makes it appear that the change is for some spurious or nefarious reason.

Small towns across America rely on volunteer, non-profit organizations to provide vital services such as fire suppression, flood control, and ambulance service because it is just too costly to pay for them.  Why alienate even one volunteer with innuendo and partial truth?  If the volunteers had turned the Fire House into a private club house with wild parties long into the night and were not responding to fires or showing up inadequately trained and people or structures were hurt as a result, then go ahead and replace the fire company.  Just do it for the right reasons.

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