Dispute with borough causes some N. Catty firefighters to quit
North Catasauqua Fire Chief Shawn McGinley concluded the May 23 borough council meeting with a comment that could result in changes for the borough.
“I’d like to look into the possibility of exploring a possible merger with another fire department, depending on the outcome of what happens with the background checks,” he said. I’ve lost two members in the past couple hours. The borough has to provide fire protection one way or the other.”
McGinley was referring to a negative reaction from some volunteer firefighters to a borough requirement for them to submit to background checks and, in addition, to provide the borough with their social security numbers. Members attending the meeting felt they are being held to a more stringent requirement than other employees or volunteers.
At the May 9 council meeting, the council had voted to require firefighters to submit authorization forms which include social security numbers and birth dates, by May 23, or else they would not be allowed key-code access to the borough fire department building and trucks.
McGinley expressed concern about having submitted a roster of firefighters to the borough, only to have the request for a roster come to him additional times. He said if the borough cannot keep track of rosters, firefighters do not trust the office with their social security numbers.
“Everyone keeps saying we lost it, but we never got it,” said borough Treasurer Annette Englert. She said the last roster received at the office was in December.
Another roster, which McGinley reviewed with emergency management personnel in March, did not make it to office staff.
“I can also assure you that I have personnel files in my office, and I have never once released anyone’s social security number,” said borough Secretary Nancy Knecht. “The office gets locked and there’s a limited number of people who can even get in there.”
“My problem is we are being singled out with this form,” said one fire company member.
At that time, McGinley had submitted only some of the required authorization forms.