Newburg conflict troubling

Although infrequent, it’s not unheard of for there to be a topic of community disagreement at which the local volunteer fire department is at the center.

Some communities have dealt with the question of whether longtime town fire whistles should be deactivated due to the modern communications devices available for summoning firefighters for emergency duty.

Other places have dealt with whether it’s really necessary to sound fire vehicles’ sirens when firefighters are responding to a call in the middle of the night, if the road to an emergency call is free of other traffic.

Topics of friction involving volunteer fire departments generally are uncommon, not only here in Blair County but in adjacent counties as well. But one troubling issue is in fact festering here involving Logan Township’s Newburg Fire Department.

It’s an issue smacking of what, on the surface, seems like an example of immaturity, downright arrogance, or both.

Regardless, what’s allegedly been occurring can be construed as unbecoming certain department members and extending perhaps to the department as a whole.

Whatever the basic cause of the alleged troubling conduct, that conduct must cease, for the best interests of the Newburg community as well as the fire company itself.

That’s the mandatory first step toward mending the relationship between the department and certain people of the Newburg service area who allegedly are being targeted by certain department personnel.

The targeting allegedly has included protracted blasting of an air horn, a voiced threat that Newburg firefighters would not respond if a certain neighbor’s home were ablaze, “laying” of skid marks in front of certain homes, and even an instance of grabbing a cellphone through a vehicle window.

Such alleged conduct is not something about which any emergency service subsidized by municipal or state tax dollars, as well as donations from the public, should be involved in or proud.

Fortunately, the Logan Township supervisors agree with that observation and commendably have begun a process for addressing the problem.

The township supervisors should not cease their involvement until they are confident that the problem has been rectified.

This is a time when many volunteer fire departments across the state are experiencing difficulty recruiting additional members — not because of situations like this one but due to challenges dominating potential members’ lives, such as difficult work schedules, long travel distances to and from work, and so many two-worker households whereby it’s difficult to coordinate family life with challenges surrounding children’s school and other activities.

But an article in last Sunday’s Mirror noted a case where a man opted not to join the Newburg department because of certain members’ conduct with which he does not agree.

All Newburg members — and firefighters everywhere — should be held to a high standard of conduct, and the situation dogging that department should not have been permitted to gain traction to the point where township supervisors’ involvement became necessary.

Department leaders have the responsibility to resolve troubling situations immediately upon becoming known. In no way should a problem be allowed to linger or worsen.

The Newburg situation has a quick solution if department leaders truly are committed to one.

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