Update: The fire departments are scheduled to reopen at 12:01 Friday morning.
Penn Forest Township, Carbon County – Two Carbon County fire departments have been shut down since Thursday afternoon and no one has been able to explain exactly why.
Both Penn Forest Township fire stations cannot respond to calls right now. Firefighters and people who live there are frustrated. They can’t get answers at the municipal building because that is also shut down. “It leaves all of us like wondering what’s going to happen next,” remarked resident Jenna Redding.
Penn Forsest Station Two Chief David Vukovic told Eyewitness News a township supervisor contacted him Thursday afternoon and said firefighters couldn’t work because there was an issue with the township’s workers compensation plan. He said, "We really don't know if we have it or not so the safe thing to do is to shut down."
Some firefighters claimed the township didn’t pay the workers compensation insurance bill but Eyewitness News was not able to reach any township officials to verify that.
Meanwhile, volunteers are worried about the community. Vukovic, "It's crazy because something could happen right now across the street and we could not do anything about it."
Not everyone who has a home or who deals with homes is upset about this. A staffer at a real estate office in front of the Indian Mountain Lakes Community said, “I couldn’t care less.” Vukovic reacted, "I guess they would care if something happened in their family. I mean we don't just respond to fires; we do automobile accidents, medivac landings for anybody that gets hurt."
While the Penn Forest volunteers can’t respond, neighboring fire departments will respond to their area. The fire chief worries because every minute counts during an emergency. Resident Dave Beecham said, "It's something that you need up around here. Everything is so far away. If something would happen it's people's homes that are being affected."
Penn Forest Chairmen Warren Reimer did not return messages left at the borough building and at his home.