After more than a century of protecting the community, volunteers with the Edgeworth Fire Department have been asked to hang their hats.
Council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Sept. 20 to decertify the department, which borough officials said in a statement was the result of fewer volunteers providing fire protection in Edgeworth, a growing trend in communities across Pennsylvania.
In making its decision, council also pointed to the volunteers themselves, noting that none of the active adult members on the fire department resides in Edgeworth.
“Council’s utmost concern is the protection of life and property of Edgeworth residents,” borough officials said in a statement.
Edgeworth Fire Chief Tim Scott said the dismissed volunteer firefighters did not agree with council's decision.
“Basically, the borough fired us,” said Scott, who is also a volunteer.
Scott said council met with the board of directors at 6 p.m., prior to Tuesday's regular meeting, and told it that the volunteers were no longer needed. He said neither the fire department nor residents had any idea the decision was coming and that the volunteers were confused.
“We’re still trying to figure it out … it’s a shock to us,” Scott said.
Borough Manager Marty McDaniel said Edgeworth’s demographics have changed and that while many professionals live in town, they work outside in Pittsburgh or places that make it impossible to answer a fire call. For volunteer firefighters, he said, it’s also becoming harder to maintain the hours of training required.
McDaniel said the borough does appreciate all the work the firefighters have provided to the community all these years.
“We thank them for their service,” McDaniel said.
Cochran Hose Co. in neighboring Sewickley will serve as Edgeworth’s exclusive provider of fire protection services, with immediate coverage during the transition. An ordinance has been advertised to permanently certify Cochran Hose Co., the borough said in a statement.
The Edgeworth Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1905 and incorporated in 1913. Scott said the Edgeworth fire department is chartered and still exists, but is no longer providing fire protection.
About 28 volunteers make up the roster, with about eight or nine active members. Scott said the borough provides the fire trucks and compensates volunteers for their equipment. Volunteers also conduct fundraisers, mentor junior firefighters and go into the schools every year to speak about fire prevention, Scott said, adding that school programs are coming up next month.
McDaniel said Cochran Hose is just a few blocks away and response time comes down to a matter of one minute.
“There’s no reason to have a fire department in Edgeworth,” he said.