West Newton fire chief blasted for son's use of fire truck for prom
The West Newton fire chief came under fire on Monday for permitting his son to be driven to the Yough High School prom last month in a borough fire truck.
Borough council unanimously approved a resolution it will send to the fire department expressing its “displeasure” that the fire department permitted one of its trucks on April 26 “to be used as a prom limousine” to drive Chief Craig Sanner's son, Dustin, and his date, to the high school in Sewickley Township.
“If true, we feel this is an inappropriate use of public monies,” council stated in the resolution.
The borough provides money for insurance coverage for the fire department, said Charles Wade, borough solicitor.
“Clearly, it should not have been done,” Wade said.
Councilman Adam Paterline, who had raised the issued, said having a girl dressed for the prom and riding in a fire truck could have posed a safety issue if the fire department had to respond to an emergency.
Before the vote, Paterline left the council meeting and returned with a copy of the May 2 edition of the West Newton Times-Sun that featured a photograph of Sanner's son and his date in her prom dress, standing in front of a fire truck that was parked at the high school on the night of the prom.
When contacted at the fire hall after the council meeting, Sanner said the fire truck was never “out of service” and never outside the area where it responds to calls under mutual aid agreements with Herminie and Lowber.
The fire truck would have responded to a fire call if an emergency had occurred en route to the high school, Sanner said. His wife was driving a car behind the fire truck and she would have picked up the couple in the event the fire truck had to be used in an emergency, Sanner said.
Sanner said he accompanied his son, who has been a member of the fire department for several years. The truck was only at the high school for a few minutes before returning to West Newton, Sanner said.
Paterline had estimated that it might have cost the fire department $100 to drive the fire truck to Yough High School, but Sanner dismissed that as being far too much. The route from the fire hall to the high school, via Herminie, is seven miles.
Sanner said he felt that criticism was overblown.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.