Alleged Use of Racial Slurs Forces Fire Station Shutdown

A firehouse was forced to shut down after members allegedly used racial slurs during a recent virtual meeting.

On Wednesday, the Darby Township Board of Commissioners voted to temporarily shut down the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company after members were allegedly heard using racial slurs during a Zoom call with other firehouses in Pennsylvania's Darby Township, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The vote came shortly after members of the Goodwill Fire Company, one of the township's three volunteer firehouses, sent a letter to the township's board of commissioners detailing the alleged comments made during the call.

One member of the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company was allegedly heard poking fun at Fanta Bility's name. Bility, an 8-year-old Black girl, was fatally shot by officers with the Sharon Hill Police Department in August 2021 after a high school football game. Three officers were each charged with manslaughter and reckless endangerment, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer's office.

Additionally, members of the Briarcliffe Volunteer Fire Company allegedly criticized the percentage of Black residents that lived in Darby Township.

In a statement posted to Facebook, Delco Resists, an organization that shared the recording of the Zoom call, said, "The disregard for Fanta's life strikes at the core of the community's faith in public servants and demands systemic reform across the entire county, at every level of government."

"This has been going on for so long; it is nothing new. The only difference here is the statements were recorded. We need systemic reform and we need officials who believe the community first," the statement added.

The Delco Resists account also shared a statement from Bility's family lawyer, Bruce Castor, which said, "The family of Fanta Bility is appalled by the audio recordings out of the Briarcliffe Fire Department."

The statement continued, "Fanta's family and I join in the calls for disciplinary action to be taken against those responsible, and for further investigation into the culture within the county that made them feel sufficiently comfortable to express such views that are unacceptable in any civilized society, much less in the United States."

During a press conference on Friday, Stollsteimer announced that his office is planning to conduct a further investigation into the allegations.

"Whether or not a crime occurred, hate speech is always morally wrong," he said. "It doesn't reflect the people who live here in Darby Township and it doesn't reflect the people who live in Delaware County."

Newsweek reached out to Stollsteimer's office for further comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Fire truck
A Pennsylvania fire station has been temporarily shut down after members were allegedly heard on a Zoom call using racial slurs. Scott Barbour/Getty