Slow Response Time Irks Man Down Street From Fire Dept.

By: Dave Byknish Email
By: Dave Byknish Email

On Saturday afternoon a man, who would only tell us his name was Chubby, was changing a fuel pump on his truck.

He says he's not sure what happened but the fuel caught fire, injuring his hand and sending his cousin to the hospital.

"When it went off, it went off like a cannon," said Chubby. "It was unreal."

Chubby lives in Churchville, literally down the street from the Churchville Volunteer Fire Department.

Firefighters from Staunton, nearly 11 miles away, responded first. By then it was too late to save anything.

When Churchville finally did arrive, Chubby started screaming that they weren't allowed on his property.

"The sheriff's department got involved because it was basically, I can't say a domestic situation, but it was definitely a controversy on the scene," said Churchville's Fire Captain, Craig Williams.

"Two tenths of a block," said Chubby. "It took them half an hour to an hour to get here. They said we got water. So? What's water going to do now? I pretty much lost everything I've worked for in my life."

So, where were they?

It's not uncommon for another fully staffed company to get to a call first. Being a volunteer station, most of the Churchville crew works from home, waiting on a page to come in.

At the time of the fire many of them were at home with family or out hunting.

"You can't always plan around these calls," said Williams. "That's why we try to make sure that we have the coverage there 24 hours a day, but it's hard to guarantee that at any given point in time."

"They're getting the million dollar fire station added up here to it," said Chubby. "What do they need it for? If they can't respond, why do they need it? Taxpayers are paying for it, my opinion, they don't need it."

Even though Churchville may seemed to have dropped the ball, their total missed calls are less than five percent. Because of how well they do the Augusta County board of Supervisors won't allocate 24 hour staff to them.

Williams offered Chubby a solution to increase the response times.

"The best thing I can say to any individual that wants to get irritated with the fire department for their lack of coverage is, we've got a stack of applications that we'd be more than willing to offer to them at any given point in time."

While the fire is still under investigation we were told that it's possible that fuel was being sucked out of the truck through a Shop-Vac.


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