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Monroe County fire company and township at odds over fire service

Tobyhanna Township Vol. Fire Company pulled themselves out of service over a fire ordinance dispute.It allows the township to have more control over the fire company

TOBYHANNA, Pa. — Fire calls will be few and far between at the Tobyhanna Township Volunteer Fire Company.

The company has decided to no longer respond to calls, and people who live in the township aren't happy about it.

"It's a little scary if anything does happen. I mean, all I have is a fire extinguisher in my house, so I would like to have somebody there that knows what they're doing," Adam Decker, a Tobyhanna Township resident, said.

"I'm infuriated over it. Like, nobody knows that we no longer have a fire company," Tracy McGrath, a Tobyhanna Township resident, said.

Tobyhanna Township passed a new ordinance that they believe would hold the fire company more accountable, but it also includes a provision that would allow the township to take over a fire company if it's performing inadequately.

The ordinance also gives the township the authority to approve the fire company's chief and assistant chief.

Ed Tutrone, the current assistant chief and fire company president, says the fire company's attorney tried to negotiate several times, even warning the township that the fire company would no longer respond to calls if the ordinance passed.

"We pulled ourselves out of primary, but we still expected that they would continue to have us dispatched on a secondary basis. By pulling ourselves out of primary means, they don't have to fund us. So we were going to use our own funds until this gets cleared up," Tutrone said.

A quick resolution may not be likely.

A supervisor at the Monroe County 911 Center tells Newswatch 16 that it will not dispatch the Tobyhanna Township Volunteer Fire Company to any calls for the foreseeable future.

A statement from the Tobyhanna Township supervisors reads, in part:

"As this decision to remove themselves was made solely by the members of the Fire Department, the Board of Supervisors wants to ensure the residents and visitors of Tobyhanna Township that there will be NO interruption of Fire services to the Township and surrounding areas. "

"right now, they are putting the life and property of the township residents at risk whether they want to tell you that or not because they are delaying response by not having us dispatched," Tutrone said. 

Tobyhanna Township says it has been in contact with the six other companies that assist currently, and they will continue to serve the area. 

Tutrone expects Pocono Summit and Tunkhannock Township to answer most of Tobyhanna Township's emergency calls until the situation gets resolved and the Tobyhanna Township Volunteer Fire Company puts itself back in service.

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