Appeals, Nos. 73 and 74, March T., 1964, from judgment and decree of Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, March T., 1959, No. 6, and June T., 1959, No. 5, in cases of The Volunteer Fireman Relief Association of New Castle, Pa. v. Marie Hanlon, Treasurer, Edward DeCarbo, Mayor, Gene Schweinsberg et al., Councilmen, of the City of New Castle, Pa., et al., and Reynolds DiLullo et al.; and Same v. Same. Judgment and decree affirmed; reargument refused April 14, 1964.
Frank O. Moretti, for appellants.
Joseph R. McFate, with him Joseph R. McFate, II, and McFate and Rea, for appellee.
Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
From 1874 to 1897 the City of New Castle, Lawrence County, was protected against the aggressions and ravages of fire by volunteer firemen. In 1897 these volunteer firemen formed what was known as Volunteer Fireman Relief Association of New Castle, Pa., and obtained a charter from the Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, the charter being amended in 1935.
In 1895 the General Assembly enacted a law (P.L. 408, 72 P.S. § 2261) which imposed a 2% tax levy on foreign fire insurance premiums and directed that the fund resulting from the levy be distributed to relief associations of fire departments in the municipal subdivisions of the State.
In 1897 the City of New Castle began to employ paid firemen (at first only drivers) while continuing to use the volunteer fire system. By 1960, there were 58 paid firemen in New Castle and about 150 volunteer firemen. The volunteer organization consisted of nine companies (each one attached to an individual fire company), as well as a fire police and a hook and ladder company.
As so often unfortunately happens where two organizations are engaged in a similar line of endeavor, conflicts arose between the paid firemen and the volunteer firemen. The paid firemen regarded themselves as more capable and better trained to fight fires than the volunteer firemen. The latter believed that they were not only equally capable of combating conflagrations but that the voluntary and non-paying status of their efforts invested them with an eagerness and enthusiasm which made their participation in the battle against the common enemy even more effective than that of salaried fire fighters.
This lamentable conflict reached such proportions that at occasional fires where both types of firemen were present, the paid firemen refused to accept the proffered assistance of the volunteers. It can be wondered if the flames did not occasionally profit by this division among its foes and thus blazed more fiercely while enemy forces disputed among themselves as to who should man the hoses, who should put the ladders in place, and so on.
Be that as it may, this twice deplorable controversy reached the point where on March 24, 1958, the Council of New Castle enacted an ordinance "to dispense with the services of the Volunteer Fire ...