ESTELL MANOR — The Estell Manor Volunteer Fire Company is expected to reopen by noon today, after the acting chief appointed by a Superior Court judge verified that the company now has all required certifications.
Mayor Stephen Teasenfitz shut down the company March 12 for lack of equipment and firefighter certifications.
“It was always our goal to work towards that,” Teasenfitz said of the reopening.
Lawyers for the fire company and Chief John Wagner could not be reached Thursday afternoon for comment.
The city sued the fire company April 9 to ensure it was not operating while shut down, and that preparations to reopen would be handled properly, Teasenfitz has said.
In a May 29 consent order, Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez appointed former Assistant Chief Brian Johnson acting chief, replacing elected Chief John Wagner.
Wagner’s attorney Bard Shober, of Pleasantville, has said one of his main goals is getting Wagner reinstated as chief.
In April, City Council also hired the Garty Law Firm of Moorestown, Burlington County, at $180 per hour to do an independent investigation of the department. It is not clear how the approximately $24,000 per year that the city provided the company for equipment and its inspection was spent, since the city alleges equipment has not been properly inspected for about three to four years.
Teasenfitz said he has seen an interim report from the investigation, but not a final report. The final report is expected to be discussed at an Aug. 5 meeting with Mendez.
Mendez’s May 29 order also instructed the fire company to provide all records and notices of its nonprofit status and all financial records to the city for its investigator to inspect; and to cooperate with the city-appointed investigator.
The Dorothy Volunteer Fire Company, which has been covering Estell Manor’s calls, will go back to being a mutual aid company for Estell Manor, Teasenfitz said.
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