Fire Company to Reopen After Accepting Resignation of Member Linked to Extremist Group, Town Says - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Fire Company to Reopen After Accepting Resignation of Member Linked to Extremist Group, Town Says

Haverford Township announced Monday that the Bon Air Fire Company will soon be back in service

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fire Company to Reopen After Accepting Resignation of Volunteer With Alleged Ties to Extremist Group

    A week after being shut down for allegedly failing to take proper action against a volunteer accused of having ties to an extremist group, a local fire company will now reopen after accepting that volunteer's resignation. NBC10's Aaron Baskerville has the details.

    (Published Monday, Sept. 9, 2019)

    What to Know

    • Haverford Township announced Monday that the Bon Air Fire Company will soon be back in service after its closure last week.

    • The company was initially shut down for allegedly failing to take action against a volunteer with alleged ties to an extremist group.

    • The company accepted that volunteer's resignation, officials said. They will also undergo tolerance training once they reopen.

    A Delaware County fire company that was shut down last week after being accused of failing to take action against a volunteer with alleged ties to an extremist group, is now set to reopen after accepting that volunteer's resignation.

    Haverford Township announced Monday that the Bon Air Fire Company will soon be back in service.

    The fire company will undergo tolerance training and revise its anti-discrimination laws once they officially reopen, the officials said. Bon Air also released a statement Monday.

    "Membership in any hate group is unacceptable to the Bon Air Fire Company," a spokesperson for Bon Air wrote. "The Bon Air Fire Company opposes any organization which treats any person unfairly or unequally.”

    The Haverford Township manager still needs to sign off on officially bringing Bon Air back in service. No date has been set for that yet though it could occur as early as this week.

    The controversy began on Aug. 12 when the township officials said they first received information accusing Bruce McClay, a volunteer with the Bon Air Fire Company, of being affiliated with the Proud Boys, an organization designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group.

    The officials interviewed McClay who allegedly admitted to attending several meetings with the group and passing two of the four steps in the group’s initiation process. McClay already indicated he had recently tried to distance himself from the group, officials said.

    The group with which McClay was allegedly associated describes itself as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world,” with “closed borders,” “anti-political correctness” and “venerating the housewife” being among their values, according to township officials.

    The group's website says they include men of all races, religions and sexual preferences and deny having any affiliation with the "alt-right" movement. The SPLC accused them, however, of still using white nationalist memes, maintaining affiliations with known extremists and appearing with hate groups at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

    On Aug. 14, Haverford Township Manager David Burman and Deputy Chief of Police Joseph Hagan met with the president and chief of the Bon Air Fire Company to discuss the investigation.

    The next day, the fire chief informed Burman that McClay had resigned. The board of the Bon Air Fire Company did not accept the resignation at that time, however, according to officials.

    A week later, the Bon Air Fire Company solicitor sent an email to the Haverford Township solicitor indicating the board of the fire company discussed the situation but found no basis for terminating McClay's membership and would not take any action.

    The Township then shut down the Bon Air Fire Company Wednesday due to the fire company board’s “failure to act.” They also took away the company's fire equipment.

    The Bon Air Fire Company wrote in a statement last week that McClay was not and never was a member of the Proud Boys. 

    "While the volunteer attended some social gatherings of the outside organization, the volunteer ultimately decided, after he learned more about the group's beliefs, that he did not wish to become part of the organization," a spokesperson for Bon Air wrote. "He never attended any rallies or protests and he disassociated himself from the group more than one year ago."

    NBC10 tried to contact McClay, including at his home last week, but could not reach anyone. A reporter also reached out to McClay through Facebook Messenger asking for comment. The only response was "no."