Neighbors Say Volunteer Fire Department Took Too Long to Respond

By Jami Brinton, Reporter

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By Becky Ogann

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JOHNSON COUNTY - Neighbors rushed to help put out a mobile home garage fire, but are critical of the local fire department's response time. They say it took about 30 minutes for the Hills volunteer fire department to arrive.

The fire broke out at 955 Spring Ridge Drive in the Lakeridge Mobile home park just after noon Monday. That's just outside Iowa City limits in the Hills Volunteer Fire Department's district.

Tina Stroud called 9-1-1, then hurried to make sure her friend Joe was okay.

"I grabbed a hose, I grabbed a fire extinguisher. I tried to get my neighbors rallied around to get hoses. They all got 'em," said Stroud.

"I wanted to make sure it didn't go to the house cuz then it would get other houses then God only knows what's going to happen.... I have so much smoke inhalation. We have been using garden hoses on Joe's place. I think the dog's in the garage, I don't know," she said.

Stroud says the first fire engines didn't arrive until several minutes later.

"It took them way too long. I understand Hills is a volunteer fire department and they're supposed to get here first but forget protocol. Whoever can get here first, it's a mobile home," said Stroud.

Many of Hills firefighters were spending the holiday camping or shopping, so it took some time for them to get here.

"So ya, being a volunteer a volunteer service or a paid service that makes a lot of difference. Sometimes we have a better response than a paid department, too."

But Stroud says what happened on Monday points to the flaws of a volunteer fire department.

"That's a double wide garage so that's mostly wood. But if it had gotten into the house it would've been gone. If it would've been my house it would've been gone. That's scary," said Stroud.

Neighbors are convinced the Iowa City fire department would have gotten there quicker. And they want answers about why it took half an hour before trucks arrived.

No word on what caused the fire or the extent of damage.

The homeowner was out of town for the holiday weekend.

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