Fire company suspended, will reorganize after drinking allegations

LEBANON, Pa (WHTM) -- The Speedwell Engine and Hose Company was officially suspended Tuesday evening following allegations that members responded to a recent fire call while under the influence of alcohol.

During a meeting with the West Lebanon Township Board of Supervisors, Speedwell agreed that it will not respond to any calls for at least the next 30 days, during which time the fire company will reorganize under new leadership.

The agreement occurred during a 40-minute, closed-door executive session by commissioners during the board's regular public monthly meeting. Attorneys for both the township and fire company were present.

On Dec. 14, it is alleged that nine Speedwell firefighters who responded to a call at a local pizza shop had been consuming alcohol. Acting fire company president Michelle Testerman said firefighters had been gathered for a fire company meeting prior to the call. She would not confirm that any firefighters were drinking.

"Any allegations can be made against anyone," said Testerman.

West Lebanon Township solicitor Paul Bametzreider said a five-member committee - to include a representative from the township, Speedwell, as well as the Lebanon City fire commissioner, chief, and a line officer - would monitor the restructuring and possible reinstatement after 30 days.

"They're (Speedwell) being very cooperative and we're confident this matter can be taken care of very quickly and will be in the best interest of the residents of the township," said Bametzreider.

Pending a successful reorganization, Speedwell could be reinstated at the next meeting of West Lebanon Township on Feb. 5. Currently, Ebenezer Fire Company will be the primary responder to fire calls in West Lebanon Township.


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