Dozier fireman dispels rumors

Published 7:30 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Buddy Dean, a member of the Dozier Volunteer Fire Department, came before the Dozier Town Council Monday evening at its regular meeting to address a rumor that concerned the town’s fire department.

Dean first passed out a copy of a fire report to the council members. The fire report referred to a call made on Dec. 4, 2008, at the residence of Eldred and Diane Burks.

“This is in reference to when we had a tragic house fire up here,” Dean said. “First, I want to thank you for allowing me to speak and to speak on behalf of the fire department.”

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“I’d like to address the rumors that have been floating around town about our response time taking one hour to respond to that house fire,” Dean said. “These rumors are also not only in our town but have been going around Brantley and Andalusia, and these rumors give us all a bad mark.”

“Buddy, you know this was my family, and we appreciate y’all, but we understand it’s not your fault, that maybe it’s a 911 issue,” Council member Linda Hutto said.

“This is my time, I think, so I ask that you be quiet until I get through,” Dean said to Hutto. “If you don’t mind, I would ask that you please be quiet.”

“All our calls go through E-911,” Dean explained. “The first call came in at 11:49 p.m., and it was made by a cell phone and they couldn’t understand it. The second call came in at 11:50 p.m., and it was made by Mr. Robbie Harrison. We were paged out at 11:51. There was a third call made that came from a Betty McCullough… At that time we were already at the station preparing to leave. We left the station at 11:56, arrived at the fire at 11:59; so if you take the time at which we received the call at 11:51 and the time we arrived at the fire at 11:59, that’s nine minutes to get out of bed, get dressed, get to the fire station, put on our turnout gear, get your truck and get to the fire—nine minutes– for a volunteer fire department. We left that fire at 2:17 a.m., and left the fire station at 2:25 a.m. to go back home. We had 8 of our 12 volunteer members to show up…so we spent most of our night at the fire, but we had to get up and go to work the next day.”

“When you have a volunteer fire department, that’s the way it works,” Dean said. “The reason I want to bring this up is because it’s quite painful when you have these things said, and you have such a good group of volunteers out there dedicating their time, and at times putting their lives on the line. Not only do they respond to fires, they respond to wrecks and clean up after storms….They have additional training, too,…so it’s quite painful to hear these kinds of comments.”

“You can check these records with E-911,” Dean explained. “They are on tape and recorded, so there’s no question that our times won’t check with their times.”

“What we ask is if ya’ll hear these rumors, you have the facts there that you can present to these people and say, look, this is not true,” Dean said, “and if anybody knows for a fact that that house was on fire an hour earlier, it really would have been nice if they’d have called it in, because I’m sure Diane and Eldred would have loved to have had some of their possessions.”

“Well, the fire was at eleven o’clock,” Linda Hutto said.

“Then why didn’t you call it in?” Dean asked Hutto.

Hutto responded to Dean’s question, but her words were not clearly audible as they both began to speak at the same time.

“It was not called in,” Dean said again.

“Well, I’m just saying that,” Hutto said. “I’m not saying that it’s your fault. I’m saying that there’s something with 911.”

“No, Ma’am, because 911 records everything,” Dean said.

“Well, they don’t even know where Bell Street is, now let me tell you that,” Hutto said.

Mayor Karen Davis stopped the discussion.

“The street name is not relevant to this discussion,” Davis said. “The fire was paged out to the fire department, and I do appreciate Mr. Dean bringing this to our attention.”

Davis then recognized the fire department and asked the volunteers who were present to stand so they could be honored. The fire department received a round of applause from those present for their work.