PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Controversy is unfolding in a Luzerne County community as a fire department is suddenly and unexpectedly shut down. The Plymouth Township Fire Department can no longer respond to any emergency calls. The closing is raising concerns and a lot of questions in that community.
The Plymouth Township Fire Department is out of business as far as answering calls for help. Fire department officials say they are shocked by the move, but township leaders say it’s all about the money or lack thereof.
“Hardship, disgust, a level of not understanding why or what their game really really is,” Chief Barry Lore said.
Lore and deputy chief Peter Kuscavage say they were stunned when he got a call from Luzerne County 911 early Tuesday morning saying they were taken off the emergency response list. In other words, they are no longer permitted to answer calls anywhere by order of the Plymouth Township supervisors.
“I mean we’ve had multiple discussions with them about finances. What we need to make this work and we were informed as of Sunday when we last met with them that it had nothing to do with finances that it was all about response and response times,” Lore said.
“The lack of understanding of what our supervisors are not really understanding what we are doing here and why they just can’t get support from them,” Kuscavage said.
“I’m surprised they were surprised,” township chairperson Gail Conrad said.
Plymouth Township supervisors Gail Conrad and Joe Yudichak say the fire department should have seen this coming. The fire department is a private entity and does fundraising efforts, like its’ popular haunted house at Halloween to pay its bills, but in recent years these supervisors say the township has helped them out financially. But that now has to stop. They claim the fire department has not minded its financial house.
“You can’t buy a million-dollar house if you don’t have a million dollars worth of income to be able to satisfy that,” Conrad said.
So as of Tuesday, the township will be covered by four outside departments, including the city of Nanticoke and Plymouth Borough.
“We can provide good fire protection with the four different fire companies and no risk of raising the cost to taxpayers,” Yudichak said.
“The reality is they have their own communities to dedicate their services to also,” Lore said.
Word of the fire department concerns business owners like Ryan McGlynn.
“Of course the business is the most important thing and having the company just down the street was a big part of the reasons why we moved here from our old location, so it’s disappointing,” McGlynn said.
Eyewitness News spoke to the Nanticoke fire chief who says there will not be any safety issues with his department covering Plymouth Township. As for the fire department, the folks here say they are urging the public to let the supervisors know how they feel about their hometown fire department being shut down.
The Plymouth Township Fire Department has been in operation for more than 70 years. It is unclear what will become of their building and its fire apparatus.