Jerusalem Township Fire Chief Harold Stanton was suspended Tuesday after township trustees discovered he permitted at least one unappointed individual to participate in an emergency call.
Stanton is not denying a non-township fire department member helped fight a fire two weeks ago, but he says the suspension is unfair because it is hard to monitor everyone when trying to put out a fire.
Late Tuesday evening, the Jerusalem Board of Trustees announced Stanton's suspension.
"The issue evolved around a person coming on a fire scene while we were involved in active firefighting and I was the incident commander," explained Stanton.
According to Stanton, the individual is an ex-fireman for the township. He says once the man was let go, the trustees banned him from participating in fire fights. Stanton says he took action, but it did not work.
"They made it perfectly clear my job was in jeopardy for allowing him to participate and I said, 'I can't have it.' I said, 'First of all, I really didn't allow you to participate. You just showed up,'" said Stanton.
After the talk, the man continued to show up, forcing trustees to take action. Stanton says keeping his eye on the crowd is not his job.
"The safety of the people are first, and second the property, and way down my list of priorities is who's running around in the background acting like circus clowns. That's not my job," said Stanton.
Jerusalem Township fireman Robert Bonnough says the department has made major improvements since Stanton took over five years ago. He is convinced the punishment has nothing to do with the chief.
"There's an issue with another individual and not the chief, in which the trustees have that issue, and they are now looking to take that out on the chief," said Bonnough.
The trustees will conduct a hearing Tuesday to determine if Chief Stanton will be terminated. In the meantime, Stanton hopes things clear up so he can continue to head fire fights in Jerusalem Township.
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