Lebanon County fire company remains suspended

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WEST LEBANON TWP., Pa. - The Speedwell Fire Company will remain suspended for at least the next month, township commissioners decided Tuesday.

After 45 minutes behind closed doors, commissioners announced the decision to continue the suspension issued last month, as well as the establishment of a five-person committee to oversee the re-organization of the fire company.

"What the township is saying is Speedwell Fire Company, get your act together," said Paul Bametzreider, the township's solicitor who fielded all questions after the meeting.

The issue stems from a complaint filed last month, accusing several firefighters of responding to a call while intoxicated. No criminal charges have been filed. Fire officials would not say much about the allegations.

“At this time, any allegations can be made against anyone, and we'll just have to wait and see what comes of it,” said Michelle Testerman, acting president of the Speedwell Fire Company. “I think time will tell and speak for itself.”

Township officials have not ruled out the possibility of a longer suspension or a dissolution of Speedwell Fire Company, and will draft an ordinance to that effect.

“However, if they are successful in the committee's eyes in restructuring previous to the next meeting, that ordinance may not be adopted,” Bametzreider said.

Fire officials say the previous board of directors at Speedwell disciplined several firefighters in connection with the complaint, but the new board says it will re-examine that and may rescind disciplinary actions if the allegations are proven false.

It will take the next month to “restructure, get our bylaws in order do some things that should have been done for years now by previous boards and have not been done, so we are going to be doing that,” Testerman said.

Township commissioners will most likely decide whether to reinstate the fire company early next month.

For now, Ebenezer Fire Company will continue to provide fire service in West Lebanon Township.

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