Fire protection in Tyrone Borough will not miss a beat

Following Tyrone Borough Council’s vote to suspend operations of the Citizens Fire Company after 122 years, Tyrone Borough Fire Chief Jim Beckwith assures residents that fire protection in the borough is under control.
“I want to assure residents that fire protection will not suffer following the closing of the Citizens Fire Company,” said Beckwith.
The remaining members of the Citizens held a meeting on Tuesday night and voted 10-1 to dissolve the company.
“They are good fire fighters at the Citizens,” said Beckwith. “They just got in a bind in which they couldn’t see the end of the tunnel.”
The brush equipment that is stationed at the Citizens is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and according to Beckwith, the state will decide where to locate that equipment.
As Borough Fire Chief, Beckwith must maintain an active membership at one of Tyrone’s fire companies and had maintained membership at the Citizens. Beckwith recently transferred his active membership to the Hookies in which he had been a social member for years.
“The Hookies and Neptunes are taking applications and having meetings to accept the former Citizens members into the remaining two companies,” said Beckwith. “The Hookies had a meeting on Tuesday night and the Neptunes are having a meeting tonight to accept former Citizens members.”
With the shift of rescue operations, Hookies Chief Bob Lynn sees no change for residents.
“We have had a full rescue unit for years,” said Lynn. “We have run as a backup and this will have no effect on the rescue operations in the borough.”
Most of the equipment at the Citizens Fire Company is owned by the Firefighters Relief Association and was purchased with state funds and is audited. That includes the burnout gear, rescue tools and general firefighting equipment.
“We will look at the equipment the Citizens has and see what isn’t a duplication of what we have at the Hookies,” said Lynn.
“With the extra responsibility and additional equipment, space will be kind of tight for a while until we get things organized.”
Lynn is also a former chief at the Citizens Fire Company.
“I didn’t want to see it close,” said Lynn. “A lot of people who I served with have a lot of good memories of our time there.”
For Beckwith, the job of closing the company was his to do as the borough fire chief.
“It was very painful for me personally to do what I was forced to do,” said Beckwith. “My father was a member of the Citizens, I was a member since 1961 when I graduated high school and my son was a member there. That is three generations of Beckwith’s who served with the Citizens.
“I was one of the original seven members who started the rescue operations,” said Beckwith. “I built my firefighting career there. It was very hard to do what needed to be done. When the chief (Dave Lynch) and assistant chief (Mike Beckwith) resigned, I determined that you can’t run an organization in which lives are at risk without leadership.”
There is a possibility that the fire department in Tyrone will become stronger with the closing of the Citizens.
“We have good firefighters who were at the Citizens and will help strengthen the other two companies,” said Beckwith. “We still have fire companies to make sure we are covered on both sides of the tracks and we have commitments from Bald Eagle, Tipton and Bellwood to provide backup for us.
“There are a lot of good firefighters in this town,” said Beckwith. “They don’t need to be trained at their new companies.