Settlement in Dispute Between Fire Dept., Social Club Could be Announced Monday

Attorney James F. Kratz, who represents the Macungie Volunteer Fire Department, says he will make an announcement about the legal battle between the fire department and the Macungie Fire Co. No. 1 at Monday's Macungie Borough Council meeting.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
By Jack Tobias

A legal settlement is expected to be announced Monday night concerning long-running discord between Macungie firefighting factions.

Attorney James F. Kratz told Patch he will make the announcement at Monday night's borough council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.

Kratz represents officers of the Macungie Volunteer Fire Department, led by fire chief Michael Natysyn, who have gone to court to get the Macungie Fire Company No. 1 dissolved.

The fire department fights fires. The fire company owns the firehouse, runs a social club in it, and is supposed to provide financial support for the fire department.

But the fire department officers, in one of two legal actions filed last year, say the fire company should be dissolved and its assets transferred to the fire department. Dissolving the fire company is needed, the legal action says, because:

The fire company has abandoned financial support of the fire department and maintenance of the firehouse; the fire company is "insolvent" and "misapplies and wastes its assets," and the fire company chose not to seek recovery of about $25,000 from "the person who misappropriated the money."

The court papers contain no further explanation of the allegation about misappropriated money.

The fire department wants the court to appoint a "receiver" to protect the fire company's assets.

The other legal action sought $16,967.05 from the fire company for an insurance premium, utility bills and maintenance work paid for by the fire department. The fire company asked the fire department to pay the bills and get the work done, the legal action says.

Kratz is quoted in a Morning Call story saying that a judgment has been ordered in the legal action seeking the money.

The story also says a Lehigh County judge recently ordered the fire company to pay around $11,000 to the fire department in connection with the action seeking to dissolve the fire company.

Meanwhile, court papers in the action seeking the $16,967.05 list fire department payments ranging from $23.43 for replacing light bulbs and $71.88 for hot water heater repairs to $6,000 for the insurance premium and $4,320 for 48 months of Internet service.

The court papers also contain a Jan. 10, 2013 letter from attorney Blake Marles, representing the fire department, to fire company president Scott Gordon concerning the department's wish to be paid back for the insurance, maintenance and other costs.

"The Volunteer Fire Department has loaned you money, but you have neither repaid it nor even agreed to create documentation through which your obligation is acknowledged, and through which repayment terms may be established," Marles wrote.

The letter was written before the legal action seeking the money was filed in court on Feb. 21, 2013. The action seeking to dissolve the fire company was filed March 8, 2013.

Marles is an associate of Kratz's in the Bethlehem-area law firm of Stevens & Lee. The action seeking the money was filed not by the four fire department officers but by the entire fire department.

The Call story quotes attorney James Heidecker, who represents the fire company, as saying he is hoping to settle the case. He also said there is "a lot of distrust" between the two sides.

The following are additional facts and allegations from the action calling for the fire company's dissolution:
  • The four officers who brought the action are Natysyn, the fire chief and fire marshal; Terry Ann Natysyn, the fire department secretary; Frederick H. Reimer, the department vice president and chief administrator, and Nancy Reimer, the treasurer. The Call story identifies Terry Ann and Nancy as the wives of Michael Natysyn and Frederick Reimer, respectively. All four also are members of the fire company.
  • The fire company was incorporated in 1907, started the social club in 1952 when it was granted a liquor license, and encouraged the fire department to form the "volunteer fire department" in 2008. The firehouse, built in 1952 and expanded in 1969, has "a significant amount of deferred maintenance."
  • Regarding the appointment of a receiver, the department is calling for the appointment before any hearing is held on dissolving the fire company. It wants the receiver to transfer the company's assets to the fire department.
  • The department points to fire company bylaws saying that if it is determined that the fire company cannot fulfill its role, its assets should be given to a group "dedicated to firefighting" in Macungie, an apparent reference to the department.
Eric Landis February 08, 2014 at 12:47 PM
Until this article, I had heard nothing about any $25,000 that the Fire Company chose not to seek recovery of. I chose not to renew my membership to this place because of all the unanswered question(s) of "where did that money go ?" The Fire company took in thousands of dollars from illegal gambling machines until they were caught, what happened to that money ? A member can attend a General Membership meeting where, according to the clubs bi-laws should provide a Financial Report, but since Nov 2012 until Jan 2014 none was ever given. The Fire Company wants to know how the Fire Department spends its money, but it's a hidden secret how the Fire Company spends theirs.


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