Two big fires in one week have exposed a problem with fire staffing along the Key Peninsula.
Fire crews say they don't have enough people to provide an adequate emergency response. Now, they’re hoping a levy on the November ballot could provide the funding needed to add 8 firefighter positions.
Last Sunday, it took 25 minutes for enough emergency personnel to reach the scene and get a handle on a 3-alarm fire at the Olde Glencove Hotel.
The Key Peninsula Fire Department had to rely on response from neighboring departments to gather enough fire fighters to respond.
The inn was built in 1896 and bought by Luciann Nadeau and her husband in 1942.
“We actually found it by water; my husband and I were out pedaling around in our boat looked up and said got to have that,” Nadeau said.
Decades of tradition were nearly destroyed when the fire spread through part of the inn.
Nadeau said firefighters got there as fast as they could “when they drove up the flames starting shooting out the roof and we all got this sinking feeling it's going to go down.”
Crews were able to stop the spread of the blaze but many in this department say with more staffing, they could have stopped the fire sooner.
“When a fire burns it doesn't wait for us to show up it's going to destroy property until we get an adequate number of resources on the property,” Chief Tom Lique said.
“I wish we could do better the way we do that is put people closer to the emergencies,” he said.
Nadeau said she’s grateful for the things that firefighters were able to save.
“I think they do the very best they can with what they have to do with… but the peninsula is growing so we have more and more people coming out here which means we need more protection,” said Nadeau.
The National Fire Protection Association says that fire districts with similar populations should be able to respond to a fire or emergency medical call within five minutes 90% of the time.
Because of staffing shortages, the Key Peninsula Fire Department failed to meet this basic standard 85% of the time for fires and almost 92% of the time for medical calls in 2011.
The Board of Fire Commissioners is considering asking voters to approve a levy on the November election ballot to fund eight full-time fire fighter positions.
The levy would cost the owner of a $225,000 home an additional $7.70 per month.
The public is invited to participate in the discussion at two meetings in May. The meetings will be held on May 8th and May 22nd at 6:00 p.m. at the Key Center Fire Station, 8911 Key Peninsula Highway North (KPN), in Lakebay.
Reported by AMY MORENO / KING 5 News. Originally posted at http://www.king5.com/news/local/Two-fires-in-one-week-expose-problem-along-Key-Peninsula-149386975.html