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Bon Air Fire Company To Be Placed Back In Service Following Volunteer's Alleged Ties To Extremist Group, Township Says

HAVERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) -- A local volunteer fire company will be placed back in service after acknowledging mistakes in its handling of a firefighter who was allegedly affiliated with an extremist group. Bon Air Fire Company said Monday it notified the volunteer that their resignation has since been accepted.

Bon Air Fire Company was shut down by Haverford Township last Wednesday for failing to take action against the firefighter. The fire company will be placed back in service over the next couple of days.

Haverford Township commissioners announced the decision at a meeting on Monday night.

The fire company says it didn't realize the broader impact of its decision not to accept the firefighter's resignation until hearing from the community.

"The initial decision to refuse the resignation was a mistake," the company said. "We agree with the township that the board of the Bon Air Fire Company should have accepted the resignation because it is important that all volunteers who represent the township do so free from bias and without discrimination."

The controversy started on Aug. 14 when Haverford Township received an anonymous tip one of its volunteer firefighters had attempted to join a group some believe to be extreme. Sources told CBS3 that the group is called Proud Boys.

The group's tenet is that they are "Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world" and promoted "closed borders," "anti-political correctness," and "venerating the housewife," the township says.

"I've lived in Havertown for over 32 years and they're all good guys over there," a Havertown man said. "I thought they overreacted from the beginning, but everything is going to work out."

Bon Air Fire Company will revisit its existing anti-discrimination policies to specifically add that volunteers who engage in hate speech or are part of any hate group will not be welcomed.

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Volunteers will participate in regular training to stress tolerance and address any "unconscious or hidden biases," the company says.

"The volunteer's participating in the activities of the hate group was a bad lapse of judgment," the fire company said.

Several Havertown residents who showed up to the board of commissioners meeting Monday were pleased to see the fire company reinstated.

Robert Dell is one of them, but he believes the board made the wrong decision in forcing the firefighter to resign.

"That man for six years served this township without an iota of complaint or hint or any impropriety and political correctness has hung a guy in the town square," Dell said, "and as a lifelong resident of this township, I'm heartbroken and disgusted."

One of the commissioners says it's now time for the community to heal.

The town manager did not speak on camera but says it's likely Bon Air Fire Company reopens this week.

CBS3's Joe Holden and Greg Argos contributed to this report.

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