A volunteer fire department in Pennsylvania has been suspended for at least 30 days, pending an investigation, after some of the firefighters allegedly made racist remarks during a virtual meeting.
The Briarcliffe Fire Company in Darby Township is being investigated by the district attorney after several of the volunteer firefighters mocked the name Fanta Billy, an 8-year-old girl shot and killed during a shootout at a football game.
There are also allegations that racist terms were used to describe other firefighters during a meeting about the possible consolidation of fire stations in the township, according to a report from the Washington Examiner.
“A bunch of f-cking n—–s down there,” a firefighter allegedly said, referring to the all-Black Darby Township Fire Company.
The virtual meeting took place on January 27.
After the meeting concluded, the fire station forgot to close their Zoom and the firefighters could be heard by those still on the call for the next hour and 45 minutes. During that time, comments were made about Fanta Billy, the all-black fire station, and moving away from an area where the black population has been growing.
The suspension of the entire fire company was announced by Darby Township Solicitor Michael Pierce during a press conference on Thursday.
“There has been an investigation that is going to be ongoing, there were a lot of allegations that were made, the investigation has been turned over to the county, or will be turned over to the county,“ Pierce said.
Delaware Councilman Richard Womack Jr. also spoke at the press conference.
“I am appalled to have to stand here today and hear about these racist comments. This is not acceptable, we will do anything we have to, it’s not something that just started, it’s been here for years, “ Womack said. “Anybody that makes statements like that don’t need to be in any kind of leadership position. To have these kinds of actions taken and these remarks made is just unacceptable.”
During the investigation and suspension, calls in the fire company’s territory will be handled by neighboring companies from pre-existing mutual aid run dispatch agreements, The Daily Times reports.
The report continued on to note that “the Briarcliffe station responded to 308 fire calls in 2021 as well as 2841 medical emergencies with its ambulance, which is staffed with career staff from Trinity Health. The career staff is not affiliated with the fire company and they have been relocated to another unit.”
The investigation will be led by District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, to determine if any crimes were committed.