WINDHAM - The Bradford County Emergency Operations Center announced Thursday that the Windham Township Volunteer Fire Company is back in service.
The announcement came the same day that a legal notice appeared in the Daily Review announcing the supervisors' intention to vote on an ordinance at their March meeting to establish a new Windham Township Fire Company.
The fire company's move back into the township came Wednesday night and the next day a letter was sent to Windham Township residents.
The letter not only announced the fire company's return, but also did not mince words about the fire company's negative feelings toward the two supervisors they feel are pushing the current fire company out of the township.
The fire company did not move its equipment back into the Windham Community Hall. Instead the fire company will be storing its equipment at Beaver Cable, which fire company president Doug Soden owns.
Soden said the fire company will be operating without a contract and without pay. He added that the fire department has already been operating without a contract and money since this past summer.
Windham Township has been using the services of neighboring fire companies since Feb. 3 when the township fire company moved its equipment out of the fire hall in a protest of what it said was a lack of appreciation by residents and the breaking of a contract by the township supervisors.
The supervisors are now paying the neighboring fire companies approximately $3,400 total for fire service.
Soden said the fire company will have to act as mutual aide for those fire companies, Rome Fire Company and Litchfield and Warren Townships Fire Companies since the Windham Volunteer Fire Company will be working without a contract. The fire company's contract with the township lasts until March 11.
Accusations in the letter from fire company members were not hidden behind the fire company's wish to begin negotiations again.
In their letter to the Windham Township Residents, the members of the fire company thanked those residents who attended the public meeting, "and those who support us and could not come to the meeting at the North Orwell Community Hall."
But they also said the public was not given a chance to voice their opinion to the supervisors about the situation regarding the fire department.
"You, the public, have not had an opportunity, nor were you given one, to vote on this issue yet," the letter reads. "You also were not given or offered an opportunity to vote on whether to give your tax money to three other fire companies instead of your own. Larry and Charlie have their own personal reasons for being supervisors."
The letter states that the fire company left the community hall and the community in an effort to "reveal the real reason this issue has not been resolved." Fire company members maintain that they planned to return to the community-fire hall the next day, but instead the fire bays had been boarded up and the locks were changed at the community hall.
"This is what they have been trying to do for 5 years and more," the letter reads. "They proved it to all of us when Davis said in the Daily Review on Feb. 7th that they already have a truck and some men to start another fire company and would call for mutual aid until more men could be found. Wait a minute now! The existing fire company was just temporarily out of service for one day until a contract could be agreed upon and you already have a new fire company. They didn't even call the fire company to try to get this resolved. That is a pretty quick and costly decision they made without letting the people vote on it."
In closing, the fire company's letter maintains that the fire trucks for Windham Township are coming back into the township whether or not the Supervisors "and the Windham Township Volunteers want them," and that "America can't be a Democracy if the people don't have and use their right to free speech."