SUNBURY, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Northumberland County fire department is out of service for the next two months.
The reason? The lack of training with the volunteer firefighters in the department. People have been sharing their thoughts with Eyewitness News on the Sunbury Steam Fire Company Engine No. 1 shutting down.
Now the fire chief wants to make this clear: the station is not completely shutting down. The business side is still open. It’s just the truck floor is temporarily out of service for the next 60 days.
“Here in Sunbury, we do. We need all the help that we can get,” Joshua Scretching of Sunbury said.
That help is now down to four fire companies after the fire chief with the Sunbury Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 has decided to temporarily take the company out of service. The fire chief says it’s because the volunteer firefighters do not have adequate training.
“In all reality, for the training that they have, it was more a liability to the department and the city itself and that’s one thing that would come back on me as a chief and I do not want to see anybody get hurt or worse, end up dying,” Chief Brad Wertz said.
Nearly 10 firefighters with the company are undergoing training sessions two nights a week for the next 60 days.
“Firefighting is dangerous work and it’s important that everyone that’s on the team is trained up and skilled and ready to go on that moment’s notice,” Sunbury city administrator Jody Ocker said.
They will be trained on the use of air packs and any kind of engine operation tactics needed at emergencies. They are also learning about driving the vehicles and use of pumping the apparatus.
“The chief staff will be evaluating them and how they perform and if they perform adequate enough for the chief staff and we approve it, we will put them back in service,” Chief Wertz said.
In the meantime, the remaining four fire companies in the city will have the responsibility of responding to all calls. Some say they don’t think this is a good idea.
“If there’s a fire they have to recruit people to come in from different towns, different counties. That takes longer for them to even get there so the house could be completely demolished by the time they even get to the fire,” Jade Herman of Sunbury said.
“There’s a lot of tragic accidents that happen so I think we need to keep the firehouse open and actually bring more,” Scretching said.
“For the safety of the city, I don’t like it. You know things with the way money is now, I’m afraid that if they do close it, it might not reopen. That’s my concern,” Ann Leitner of Sunbury said.
Chief Wertz tells Eyewitness News there is another fire company just two blocks away and says this section of Sunbury will be covered if there’s an emergency.