110-year-old Millbourne Fire Company in Delaware County shuts down, US
The Millbourne Fire Company in Pennsylvania, US, is closing after 110 years of service. Members of the fire department voted to go out of business, with the fire chief claiming that the decision came about because borough officials did not support them. The borough, however, says there were issues over manpower, response times and money. The fire company, which has had just six fire chiefs in its history and was a staple in the community for 110 years.
Millbourne Fire Company in Delaware County voted to shut down on Tuesday night, 23 April 2019, following five years of financial instability. Chief Joseph Artmont Jr has been at the fire company since 1982 and became chief three years ago. The company had only six fire chiefs in its history and Artmont’s father previously held the title for 38 years. “We’ve always been there for the community. We helped people during storms or when trees fell,” Artmont said.
Artmont said that the company started to have problems when the Millbourne borough refused to cover structural damage in the fire house five years ago. “We’re basically out of money,” Artmont said. The company’s misfortunes began to pile up. It had to go out of service in September last year because of the borough's concerns over manpower and response time. Last October, Artmont said, the company stopped receiving any municipal funding and the members’ workman’s compensation was cancelled in January this year.
Despite the fire company going out of business, Artmont said that the Millbourne community will remain safe because other fire companies like the Upper Darby Township fire department, the East Lansdowne fire company and the Yeadon fire company will take up service in the area.
Now, the fire company is selling its fire trucks and equipment to nearby fire companies in Delaware County. One truck is currently pending sale with another fire company. Whatever the company can’t sell will be donated or scrapped.
Millbourne was struggling to entice fire fighters to volunteer at the station. There were 14 volunteer fire fighters when the fire company went out of business. The fire fighters are being offered positions at nearby Delaware County fire companies, according to Artmont. “We would like to thank all of our members past and present for their service and dedication. We also would like to thank the residents for their support over the years,” the company said in a post on their Facebook.
On 4 May 2019, they posted on Facebook, “Well today was another sad day for the Millbourne Fire Company. Today the borough of Millbourne changed the locks on the firehouse. We were told by the borough manager that council ordered the locks changed and the firehouse photographed. We were also told that it was being done because they wanted to make sure we did not damage or destroy anything in the firehouse and to move the process of us getting out faster. We were told we had to call the police officer on duty to open the door to get in.
We are being treated like criminals after 110 years of volunteer service. We are 95 percent cleaned out. Our two engines left the station for the last time tonight.
Thank you Highland Park Fire Company and East Lansdowne Fire Company for housing our pumpers until we can sell them to a new home.
To the council members of Millbourne, we say go to hell.”
Source: NBC10 Philadelphia