A fire company in Pennsylvania was reportedly shut down after it failed to remove a volunteer who was allegedly attempting to join the far-right group the Proud Boys.
Haverford Township, located in Delaware County, issued a statement Wednesday shutting down the Bon Air Fire Company “indefinitely” due to its “failure to act,” according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The township says the volunteer in question, identified as Bruce McClay Jr., notified officials last month that he had attended “several social gatherings” of the Proud Boys and was on his way to completing the group’s four-step initiation process.
Haverford Township Manager David Burman said in a statement that he and the town’s chief of police met with officials from the Bon Air Fire Company urging them to address McClay and his affiliation with the Proud Boys, though the group was not identified by name in Burman’s statement.
Burman was then told by Bon Air that the volunteer attempted to resign, but the fire company did not accept his resignation. Officials at the fire company told the township a week later that they “found no basis” for dismissing McClay.
“It isn’t at this point about the volunteer,” Larry Holmes, vice president of the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners, said Wednesday. “When we became aware of the volunteer’s association with the Proud Boys, the township investigated it. The firefighter was forthcoming about it, and the firefighter resigned from Bon Air Fire Company. That was, as far as the township was concerned, the only actions that were necessary.”
“Today’s actions may stem from the firefighter’s association with the Proud Boys,” he added. “But today’s actions are a consequence of the Bon Air board’s reaction to the investigation.”
The shuttered fire company issued a statement Thursday expressing its displeasure with the township’s decision.
“The Township closed our Fire Company because we refused the Township’s demand that we terminate one of our volunteer firefighters as a result of that volunteer’s limited interactions with an outside organization,” the statement read.
The fire company said it conducted its own investigation into the volunteer’s involvement with the Proud Boys and concluded he was not a member of the group and therefore felt no need to remove him or accept his resignation.
“Listen, they represent the township,” said Commissioner Steve D’Emilio. “Even though they’re a volunteer group, they represent the township. And you can’t have someone who represents the township belonging to any hate groups. You can’t have it.”
Four other area fire companies will now service the residents of Bon Air after the township stripped the fire company of all its equipment.
The Proud Boys describes itself as a “chauvinistic men’s group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group that espouses misogynistic and anti-Muslim rhetoric.