Posted on 2/2/14

letter editor1 300HOPKINS COUNTY, Ky. (10/31/13) - On October 14, 2013, WFIE released a story regarding a fire to which the South Hopkins Fire Department responded in lieu of the Mannington Fire Department. A petition is now circulating to see the area brought fully under the jurisdiction of the South Hopkins Fire Department.

In the name of setting the record straight, I would like to start by saying that the Mannington Fire Department has served the south end of Hopkins County since 1978. Hopkins County Judge Executive Hanson Slaton asked the department to give protection to this part of the county, in addition to the area of Christian County the department already served, because no fire department was available in this portion of southern Hopkins County. The department has served the area well since that time. As for the statement that the community wants to give this area “back” to South Hopkins Fire Department, that department has never served this area. South Hopkins Fire Department was established after this time.

Hopkins County collects Hopkins County residents’ fire dues through taxes but has refused to collect for the Mannington Fire Department. Our department is not getting the funding needed to better serve this area. The county says it is illegal to collect these dues, but other counties do this and it is perfectly legal. I am quite sure that if this district changes to another department, those dues would be collected by the county. A far as money staying in Hopkins County, paying fire dues has nothing to do with county money. It is a contribution from the resident to the fire department to help maintain that department.

It was stated in the news article that the Mannington Fire Department did not respond to a fire on Gamble Lane several years ago, leaving homes in danger. The truth of the matter is that Mannington was fighting a fire on Squire Road when the call came in. The chief asked dispatch to have South Hopkins Fire Department paged to the fire. The firefighter that showed up in his personal vehicle was the chief of Mannington. He left the scene on Squire Road to make sure things were taken care of on Gamble Lane. Upon his arrival, a firefighter from South Hopkins Fire Department stated that they had it under control, so he left and went back to the previous scene. Members from South Hopkins started spreading word to the neighbors that Mannington never showed up at the scene. I hope that explains the situation that Ms. Foster mentioned in the news article.

Any other departments would give the residents the same fire rating as Mannington in this area. There are no hydrants in this area, only flush valves that look like hydrants. People and insurance companies as well need to understand that having a volunteer fire department next to your house doesn’t mean better fire protection. It is how far away the members are from the fire department that matters. Volunteer firefighters do not remain onsite at the department headquarters for set shifts as paid firefighters do. We may be out of the county or out of the state at the time a call comes in. In these cases, we have protocols set to page other departments to assist.

Also, it was stated that the emergency calls go to Hopkins County first and then to Christian County. This is correct. Where we have had problems is when Hopkins County gets the call, a fire department in Hopkins County is paged and that department has to alert dispatch that the fire is in Mannington’s district. The longer that department waits to give this alert, the longer it takes our department to get the page. This can cause severe time delays.

In closing, I would like to say that those who are currently devoting time going doortodoor asking people to sign a petition could make real, positive changes happen by going doortodoor to promote and recruit volunteer firefighters. Then all the departments would benefit and be able to improve their services to the community. Every department has enough area to cover already, and changes in which department covers what area are not likely to increase the quality or speed of service on a consistent basis. I am asking for these petitions and false stories to stop. Let the volunteers do their job and be proud of what they do for the community.

Lewis Brooks
President, Board of Directors
Mannington Volunteer Fire Department

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