Pa. court rules for Tyrone council

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel has upheld the right of Tyrone Borough Council to bar three Tyrone Fire Patrol members from serving as fire police officers.

The opinion by Judges Dan Pellegrini, Bernard L. McKinley and Patricia A. McCullough, issued last week, concluded that members of the patrol have no right to a due-process hearing as a way to challenge the decision.

Council removed the trio of veteran officers, Ralph Stimer, Eugene Zimmerman and Thomas Fetters, because they did not comply with a 2011 borough ordinance that required fire police officers undergo a variety of training within a six-month period.

But the issue goes much deeper.

The members of the fire patrol have control of a fire police building, a vehicle, equipment and several financial accounts.

Altoona attorney Daniel Stants, representing the borough, said there is over $20,000 in one of the accounts.

Who should control those assets still remains to be decided.

Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan on Monday gave the go-ahead for one deposition to be taken concerning these key issues.

Robert Petyak of Ebensburg, the attorney representing the fire patrol (Stimer, Zimmerman and Fetters), wanted more extensive “discovery” concerning the whole dispute, but the judge has sought to limit questioning and not revisit issues that have already been decided.

Stants said that initially there were three lawsuits focused on the ongoing dispute that involves the borough, the fire police, the fire patrol and two fire companies: the Blazing Arrow Hook and Ladder and the Neptune volunteer fire companies.