The Johnsburg fire district contract was turned down twice during the town board's Feb. 7 meeting.
The Wevertown Volunteer Fire Company Inc. answering machine is still taking messages, but its members won’t be responding to fires anytime soon.
Wevertown Fire Chief Jarrett Brown told the News Enterprise April 10 that his members recently disbanded the fire company because the town of Johnsburg will not renew its fire contract. The company is a not-for-profit corporation and needed to sign a contract with the town to pay for coverage in the Wevertown fire district.
“We have had enough of the fight with the town over this contract,” Brown said. “We can’t run on air.”
In early February, accusations arose among fire officials in neighboring communities about the Wevertown Fire Company’s training and ability to respond safely to calls. These are accusations that Brown flatly denies.
Town officials held off renewing the fire company’s contract until they could see some of its records, including membership and training lists, equipment lists, and their financial and operating information, according to Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow.
Asked if he would reconsider reactivating the Wevertown Volunteer Fire Company, Brown said, “No. The town won’t give us a contract ... It’s not my fault. It’s what the town wanted ... It really rots that this has to happen.”
The membership could decide as a group to change course, but Brown said he doesn’t think that will happen because of the town.
“We’re willing to try anything that the town wants,” Brown said.
Before this controversy began, there were 15 members at the Wevertown Volunteer Fire Company, and when they disbanded, there were eight, according to Brown.
The fire chief made sure that Warren County Fire Coordinator Brian LaFlure was informed of the members’ decision, as his office is in charge of dispatching emergency responders.
“The chief called me yesterday,” LaFlure said on April 10. “They are offline.”
The 911 calls for the Wevertown fire district are now automatically being forwarded to the Riverside, Johnsburg and North Creek fire companies.
The matter is currently in the hands of the fire company’s attorney, according to Brown. The fate of the firehouse, its equipment and its answering machine is unknown at this time. Call 911 for emergencies.