Westmoreland Co. Fire Department Abruptly Shutters Prompting Public Safety Concerns
EASTERN DERRY TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — For the first time since 1972, there are no firefighters stationed at the Eastern Derry Township Volunteer Fire Department in Westmoreland County.
The department was forced to suddenly shut down on Wednesday.
The VFD did not receive an expected $30,000 grant from the township to buy insurance.
The insurance policy expired Wednesday and a former assistant chief told KDKA’s Kym Gable he received a call from the county saying the department could no longer operate.
“It was pretty much abrupt,” said Scott Schweitzer, the former assistant fire chief. “I mean, word on the street was that they were going to shut us down, but we had no idea about it until yesterday when the county called us and told us that we are officially shut down as of 4 o’clock.”
The chairman of the township commissioners, Vince DeCario, said the decision to fund one of the municipality’s volunteer units and not the other has to do with a yearly audit.
“Of course our top priority is public safety,” he told KDKA. “But we received a full audit this year from both departments.”
He said of the Eastern Derry audit, “We sent it over to our CPA who said it wasn’t good.”
But the firefighters say they can find nothing in the independent audit that should prompt the township to pull funding.
The firefighters say they have concerns about public safety and response time.
“If it’s a call in our area… the response time would definitely be significant,” said Schweitzer.