Lipuma Quits as Brookville Fire Chief

5:17:16 bkvl fire chief james lipumaBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) — After a contentious 15 minutes at Tuesday night’s Brookville Borough Council meeting, Brookville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jim Lipuma announced his resignation.

Lipuma had found himself embroiled in disputes with the Brookville Firemen’s Club over an allocation of money that the club had made and most recently with Borough Solicitor James Dennison and others over fire lane parking enforcement and the possibility of hiring two part-time firefighters.

After giving a brief report on the number of calls the BVFC handled in May, the fireworks began with Lipuma returning to the matter of establishing and enforcing fire lanes at Brookville Area Schools.

That discussion between Dennison and Lipuma quickly turned combative.

“This isn’t something the Borough needs to get into doing,” Dennison said, affirming his previous position.

Lipuma shot back, “I know I don’t count.”

Then, discussion turned to the possibility of hiring two part-time firefighters.

Lipuma, also the BVFC financial secretary, disputed the notion that Dennison made at the May 17 council meeting, saying he hadn’t heard about the fire company’s intention to hire two firefighters. Dennison’s concerns over hiring part-time firefighters center on the potential costs the borough could face years down the road.

At that point, council president John Blazosky explained that he had been invited to an informational meeting about the possibility of hiring part-time firefighters, along with borough manager Dana Shick and council member Steve Hoak.

“Mr. Hoak and I talked about it afterward as well, and I left that meeting knowing what you had proposed, but that was it,” Blazosky said to Lipuma.

Lipuma then became more animated in his remarks, some aimed at Dennison.

Brookville Volunteer Fire Company“We’re not sitting on a pot of gold as you said last meeting. We’re not wasting money, we’re trying to protect the community,” Lipuma said.

At that point, there was open arguing between Lipuma and council member Dave Ferringer and council president pro-tem Bill Kutz.

And then Lipuma announced his intentions to resign.

“Tonight is the last night I wear a Brookville Volunteer Fire Company hat,” Lipuma said. “Most council members don’t know what it takes to be a fireman. When someone tries to take this fire company forward, there’s always someone taking it backward.”

“I leave the fire company in dedicated hands, and I thank those who have supported me,” Lipuma said.

He left the meeting at 7:27 p.m.

Dennison said he was sorry that Lipuma is upset over the situation, but he was not sorry for the work he is doing for the borough.

“I’ve been representing the borough council since 1982. My job is to help council make the best possible decisions. I believe the fire company would at least need the council’s blessing, if not an outright approval to move ahead with hiring firefighters. The council needs to be totally informed before making such decisions,” Dennison said.

Hoak, also a member of BVFC and its treasurer, weighed in on the dispute.

“I’m not going to dwell on what was said here, but the borough lost a major asset here tonight. We’ve tried to invite council to fire company functions, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest.”

“None of us get anything out of it except for serving our community. There is a lot of work that has nothing to do with firefighting or responding to accidents. There is a lot of work in maintaining the vehicles, paperwork, administration,” Hoak said. “We were excited for this opportunity to have paid firefighters, and they weren’t going to be current volunteers.”

Blazosky said he would have Dennison further discuss the matter with the borough and that having paid firefighters wasn’t a dead matter.

“I’ve shown respect for the fire company, and I don’t want anything bad to happen to it. But the council needs to be able to make informed decisions,” Dennison said.

Blazosky added “If it could cost taxpayers, I want to know about it.”

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