Neighbors worry about fire department response time

Neighbors worry about fire department response time


by Rad Berky / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

Posted on July 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM

GASTON COUNTY--Drive down West Westview street in southern Gaston County and you will see two homes that have been destroyed by fires.

Chief Billy Thompson of the Crowders Mountain Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department said, "Obviously travel time has a lot to do with the amount of fire that can be there when we get there."

Thompson won't say definitively that it was the distance firefighters had to travel that resulted in the loss of those two homes.

He does admit though though that the neighborhood is farther than the recommended 5 miles from the nearest fire station.

Response time here is supposed to be no more than 4 minutes.

"Right now we can't do that,"  said the Chief.  "We're probably looking at 6 to 10 minutes of just travel time."

A man who lives near the end of West Westview said his insurance rates had gone up because of the time it takes firefighters to respond.

"It goes through your head, what if something would happen," he wondered.

Not far away back on Highway 321 there is a tire store.  It has three bays and a flag pole out front.

If it looks a little like a fire station , that is because it once was the volunteer station for the West Westview Street neighborhood.

It was sold and became a tire store when Gastonia was planning to annex the area.

The problem is the economy tanked and the annexation never happened.

"So now I have to go play catch-up and put a station back down there," said Chief Thompson.

Fire district taxes went up this month and Thompson says he will use the money to hire more firefighters and to eventually build a new, smaller fire station.

"We don't want a million dollar station.  We want something that is functional and economical for the citizens," he said.

And one that will insure a faster response if disaster strikes again.