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A Pennsylvania fire company was shuttered by town officials Wednesday after officials at the company refused to address that one of their volunteer firefighters was a member of the extremist group the Proud Boys.
Officials in Haverford Township, in Delaware County, were informed on Aug. 12 that a volunteer with the Bon Air Fire Company was affiliated with “an organization described as an extremist group,” the township’s manager David Burman wrote in a statement released Thursday.
The township immediately launched an investigation into the allegations, which included an interview with the volunteer, who admitted he was involved with the Proud Boys, Burman said. The volunteer revealed he had attended social gatherings hosted by the group and had passed two of four of the group’s initiation steps “which includes hazing.”
Burman’s statement quoted the group’s “self-proclaimed basic tenet,” posted on their website that they are “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.” The proclamation belongs to the Proud Boys, who “are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which designates them as a hate group. Women and transgender men are not allowed in the group.
While the volunteer “indicated that he had attempted to distance himself from the group in recent months” Burman and a police official met with Bon Air Fire Company officials on Aug. 14 to address “the seriousness of this matter and urged the fire company to address it.”
Burman said he was informed the next day that the volunteer had offered his resignation, but the Bon Air Fire Company chief refused to accept it. A week later, Burman said he received an email that said the fire company’s board had “found no basis for terminating the volunteer’s membership.”
“The email included no indication that the fire company would take any action whatsoever,” Burman’s statement said. “The Bon Air Fire Company’s failure to address this matter conflicts with the public policy of Haverford Township, which includes ensuring that all persons are treated fairly and equally, and that all persons enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.
As of Thursday night, the Bon Air Fire Company was “relieved of duty indefinitely,” Burman announced.
Four other area fire companies will service the residents of Bon Air. The nearest company is within half a mile from Bon Air’s station, and the other three are within two and a half miles. The Bon Air Fire Company has been stripped of their equipment, NBC Philadelphia reported.
A member of the Bon Air Fire Company told the station that they were “blindsided” by the Township’s decision. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.