Susquehanna Hose Company President Charles Packard spoke for 18 minutes in front of City Council Monday. But his comments could have been just as easily directed at one person on the six-man council.
Packard's words were the most intense of the one-hour, 44-minute meeting, as he used the public comment period as an opportunity to address recent discord between the Hose Company and Councilman Jim Miller.
Miller recently said during Public Safety Commission meetings, and on Patch, that the department was "a sacred cow" and suggested its leaders purchase paint and personally apply it to the hydrants they wanted the city to mark.
The Hose Company has since removed itself from the Public Safety Commission—which is chaired by Miller—and is reporting directly to Mayor Wayne H. Dougherty.
Packard spoke to the council on Monday to tell them the Hose Company will continue to abstain from the commission meetings.
"On this occasion, I assure you, I speak for all dedicated members of the Hose Company," Packard said. "You, Mr. Miller, have failed us. You have failed to do your job and you have failed to provide the leadership this city deserves."
Miller, who made no rebuttal to the public commentary, is a lifetime member of the Hose Company.
Packard ended his statement by requesting Miller publicly apologize to Susquehanna Hose Company Chief Scott Hurst and to Deputy Chief Chad Packard.
After the meeting adjourned, Miller told Packard he would be issuing a response in the near future.
Hurst also spoke Monday and presented statistics about the pressing concerns that the Hose Company had laid out to the Public Safety Commission over the last seven months.
Hurst outlined a need for markers to be placed on hydrants so firefighters could find them in heavy snow. He also requested the city paint any unmarked fire hydrants, particularly those in Bulle Rock. Also, the fire company wants the city to relocate a mailbox on Grace Manor Drive that is blocking a hydrant. Finally, Hurst reiterated the need for the council to pass a pending ordinance to mandate carbon monoxide detectors in all city homes.
Hurst told the council that he made the decision to leave the commission because its meetings had become "non-productive."
"We've got better things to do at home with our families," Hurst said. "I'm not going to subject the deputy chief to that. We don't get paid to go to these meetings."
Chad Packard, the son of Charles Packard, was the Hose Company's representative at the Public Safety Commission for 10 years. He left the Nov. 4 meeting feeling "humiliated" by Miller's suggestions that the Hose Company paint their own hydrants and shovel them out themselves during snowstorms.
Upon Packard's decision to leave that meeting, Miller suggested Packard was simply "taking his ball and going home."
The elder Packard took issue with those comments Monday.
"That comment is shameful," Charles Packard said. "You should be thankful that the hose company has never, never left a job unfinished. We never take our ball and go home."
The meeting was adjourned one minute after Packard stopped speaking. He handed over an eight-page letter, which was used as a reference for his presentation, to be entered into record.
The Hose Company is planning to meet with Mayor Dougherty next week. But company members told Patch that their leaders' actions have already begun to reap results.
The hydrant markers are scheduled for delivery this week, and the paint is to be applied to the hydrants in Bulle Rock by spring.
The Grace Manor Drive mailbox is scheduled to be moved.
An ordinance concerning the mandate of carbon monoxide detectors in all city residences is likely to appear before City Council within the next month.