Winona Fire Department delayed response time


POSTED: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 9:49pm

UPDATED: Friday, May 2, 2014 - 12:38pm

The Winona Volunteer Fire Department may lose their contract with Emergency Services District 2 after several reports have been filed, claiming the department is failing to respond to fires in a timely manner.

According to Emergency Services District 2, the Winona Fire Department has 30 days to improve their response time before they lose funding.

"Our goal is not to shut them down or to terminate the contract," said Emergency Services District 2 Operations Chief, Terry Rozell. "Our goal is to work with them so they can supply the needed protection to have in that area."

In the last four months, Emergency Services says the department failed to meet the minimum 15 minute requirement on multiple occasions.

This past Monday, Fire Chief Nelson Brumley stepped down.

"Winona had several issues where they were not responding to a call or they had delayed response," Rozell said.

Winona Mayor Rusty Smith served as a volunteer firefighter for more than 10 years and expressed his concern with the delayed response.

"I think that's unacceptable," Smith said. "Theres an expectation now that we have tax dollars going to the [Emergency Services District] that our calls will be responded to within a timely fashion."

Volunteer firefighter John Branch says it is the time the calls are made, their lack of manpower, and the large area they cover that are to blame for their delayed response.

"There are some calls we've missed, or been late to, that's usually, if you look at our times, the four o'clock to six o'clock in the morning area," Branch said. "We have a huge area to cover which hurts us on our response time."

Emergency Services reassured this will not affect residents in or around Winona, and they are hoping to resolve this issue without taking legal action.

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The ESD was created to replace the outdated equipment and to have a small paid day crew that works M-F, 8-4. Remember, these guys are at home asleep when a call comes in. They have to get up, get dressed, drive to the station, put their gear on, and then get in a fire truck to respond. If its on a weekend, the guy might be in Wal-mart in Tyler. He has to leave the store, drive all the way back to the station and then respond. This is why the turn over rate is so high.

When it comes down to it, they are still "VOLUNTEER" fire fighters. Most people leave to go to work at around 6 in the morning so any calls within a couple of hours of that will have a lower response because a lot of calls last multiple hours therefore it would delay them going to work. Although the ESD is funding the FD, that money is not paying for the fire fighters during the weekends and evenings. They can not be forced to respond.

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