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Houtzdale And Decatur Twp. Fire Company Controversy

There’s some controversy in Clearfield County, where Houtzdale Fire Company’s in a dispute with Decatur Township over the ending of a contract, meaning the fire company may no longer cover certain areas.

At the heart of this situation, Houtzdale Fire Company says it wanted to renegotiate its contract with Decatur Township. But the township chose not to do that and instead signed a three-year contract with Columbia Volunteer Fire Company. A war of words subsequently broke out on social media.

Wednesday night, Houtzdale Fire Company published a lengthy Facebook post, denouncing the township, saying “the reason for this unknown.”

According to the fire company, they “reached out to the township at the beginning of December to negotiate an updated contract,” adding that its requests to meet were “rejected 4 times.”

The post goes on to say Houtzdale members attended Wednesday’s township meeting, “receiving no answers.” Instead claiming they were “met with hostility from Vice Chairman Bill Vogle and informed by Chairman Jim Rice that they fulfilled their legal obligation.”

All this means Houtzdale Fire Company may no longer respond to calls in the township, and in the villages of Parsonville, Henderson, and Sanborn. To people in those areas, the fire company’s post says: “We are concerned for you, but there is nothing we can do.”

Some of these areas the fire company may no longer cover are actually closer to it than to Columbia Volunteer Fire Company.

Houtzdale Fire Company’s statement was met with a post from CVFC, wanting to “clear some air with misinformation being spread around.”

CVFC’s post details its renewed three-year agreement with Decatur Township, which it says it’s had for twenty years.

When CVFC submitted this new agreement, it says the township “inquired about including the addition of Houtzdale Fire Company’s portion of Decatur Township as the result of an email that Jeff Arnold, president and deputy chief of Houtzdale Fire Company had submitted to the township.”

CVFC disputes Houtzdale Fire Company’s claim that the reason for the township’s decision was “unknown.”

According to CVFC’s post, Arnold’s alleged email “demanded an increase in funds and would refuse to cover the district if the terms were not met.” CVFC goes on to write that the township claimed “the figure was larger than what CVFC and Philipsburg Fire Department receive combined.” And so, CVFC says it confirmed it “could effectively service this area — at no additional increase to the already submitted agreement.”

However, CVFC mentions that they “have been in contact with Todd Reifer, Houtzdale Fire Company’s fire chief regarding this situation and how to move forward.” Depending on the type of emergency, CVFC adds that Houtzdale Fire Company “will remain a mutual aid company in this area, even if they ‘cannot promise a response’.”

Houtzdale Fire Company has since taken down its Facebook post.

CVFC’s chief and the Decatur Township Supervisors chairman declined to comment. Houtzdale Fire Company could not be reached for comment.

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