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120-Year-Old Fire Company ‘Out of Service’

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT — Members of the Independent Fire Company in South Williamsport answer the phone calls they can, knowing they can’t respond to em...
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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT -- Members of the Independent Fire Company in South Williamsport answer the phone calls they can, knowing they can't respond to emergencies.

"For the time being, everything is going to sit," William Shaffer.

"It's a little bit heart wrenching to say the least," said another member of the department.

After 120 years of service, as of May 1, the Independent Fire Company Number 1 in South Williamsport legally is not allowed to respond to emergency calls.

"Very upsetting, upsetting to the members, upsetting to the residents of the third ward of the borough,” said Shaffer.

Because the company could not come to a merger agreement with the borough, only two of the departments in South Williamsport merged to create South Williamsport Fire Department. Independent Fire Company was left out.

"With the borough decertifying us, they took our workman's comp away so we're idle."

"Well, they are not insured, so if somebody gets hurt it's an issue."

While they can't fight fires, members of the Independent Hose Company still plan to hold bingo this Friday night. That led to a question from the community. If the money is not going towards fighting fires, where is it going?

"We have our utilities. We our insurances we still need to take care of," said Shaffer.

The company has decided to give a third of its profits from bingo to another nonprofit in the borough.

"That's very rewarding knowing they haven't given up on the fire company. That they still want to come around," said Shaffer.

The company is still hopeful it can come to an agreement with South Williamsport, but in the meantime plans to raise enough money to pay for its own insurance. That way members may be able to fight fires with other nearby departments that could call for extra help.