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Fire company goes out of service

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SUNBURY, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WOLF) -- A divide between active firefighters and other company members involved with the bar at a firehouse in Sunbury has boiled over.

Now, the firefighters have walked out on strike and the engine was put out of service. We spoke with both sides about the dispute.

Around noon Friday, we watched as Rescue Hose Company members suited up to respond with other fire companies when a tree blocked the road several miles south of Sunbury.

But several blocks away, the Good Will Hose Company truck was parked and locked in the garage.

"They're trying to bribe us to get their way by taking the truck out of service," says trustee William Hathaway.

A total of 13 firefighters including president and First Lieutenant Heath Young walked out of a contentious monthly meeting on Thursday night, Young said.

One issue was a petition with dozens of signatures to vote Young out of office.

"We didn't vote him out. We didn't get around to that. He got thrown out because he was acting up at the meeting," says Hathaway.

"There's only 14 to 16 firefighters and there's over 700 members in the club, so every time we try to do something, of course, our vote is overriden," says Young.

So, the truck is out of service. Hathaway says Young is banned for 60 days.

"Take 12 people from that petition to replace us, send them and get their training, and we'll hand it all over to you," says Young.

"He was arguing points when he's on the chair and you're not supposed to do that, according to Robert's Rules of Order," says Hathaway.

Young says without an active fire company, the bar may have to close for 15 or 30 days. They're checking with the state's liquor board.

"Like the captain said last night, we're the ones that get out of bed at all hours of the day and night and serve the public," says Hathaway.

"We are the ones that make the money for them to have the fire equipment, and the equipment they need," says member David Fisher.

With the firehouse now closed, the mayor says council will have to decide whether to keep giving them their monthly payments that total $7,000 per year from the city.

Sunbury has four other firehouses than can respond to calls while Good Will is out of service.

Young says a complete reorganization is needed and he's unsure when that will happen. A special meeting may need to be called.

City council is set to discuss its part of the issue on Monday.

Hathaway says the fire truck has gone out of service before this year due to conflicts, but this is the first time the firefighters have left.

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