Lexington Firefighters: Brownout Prevented Faster Help

Reported by: Amanda Stevenson
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Updated: 10/17/2012 6:30 pm
Lexington firefighters said a house fire that left a home gutted could have been prevented Sunday.

Firefighters said a brownout of the Shillito Park fire station forced them to use another one, and their response time was a minute-and-a-half longer than usual.

The Greenwood Drive home, which went up in flames just after 1 a.m. Sunday, will likely be torn down, according to firefighters.

"If they'd got here faster, they probably could've contained the fire probably to the kitchen area of the house," said neighbor Hobert Mosley.

It wasn't the first incident to occur at the Shillito Park station--in April, a man pulled in front of it when he was having chest pains...only to find it empty.

Instead of receiving immediate help, he waited eight minutes for a crew to arrive.

City officials said they're hiring two classes of firefighters, and a federal grant will help them get 28 more.

"Over the last several months, instead of having seven trucks potentially browned out, they've gone down to two or three," said Lexington Professional Firefighters President Chris Bartley.

Firefighters said that it helps, but it isn't enough--even with the new hires, they won't be fully staffed until 2013.

Mayor Jim Gray's assistant, Susan Straub, released a statement regarding the brownouts Wednesday:

Fire Chief Keith Jackson has developed a responsible plan to minimize staffing shortages with targeted overtime to keep our trucks in service to the community. We are on track to hire and train new firefighters and paramedics … an unprecedented three classes in one budget year. Although the economy is improving, we have continued to face tight budgets. Even so, unlike many cities across the country, we have not laid off a single firefighter, but instead maintained and increased staffing.

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