Jenny Walling/ Lincoln Times-News
A fire last Wednesday morning gutted a $1.7 million dollar home in Iredell County. An east Lincoln fire chief believes dependence on volunteer firefighters may have been the cause of a 25-minute response time.
An 8,808 square-foot Lake Norman home in south Iredell County was gutted by fire last Wednesday morning despite efforts by firefighters to save it.
By the time firefighters arrived, the $1.7 million dollar home located in Harbour subdivision off of Brawley School Road had already been burning for 25 minutes.
Officials in east Lincoln have taken precautions to try to prevent such a tragedy from occurring here.
Fire Chief Tim Tench with the East Lincoln Fire Department said he thinks the reason for the delayed response time could be that many of the firefighters are volunteers. He said using volunteers could cause a problem with getting to the scene quickly.
Tenchâ€™s department was not dispatched to the fire.
“Most volunteers work and have to leave their job,” Tench said. “This is one of the reasons that we went paid with two of our firemen.”
The East Lincoln Fire Department has two paid staff members so that crews can respond to a call faster.
“That way we get two people on the scene immediately,” he said. “Then the volunteers can be directed to the scene.”
Since hiring paid employees in April of 2001, Tench said the response time for his department has been reduced.
“Before we went paid our response time on average was eight to nine minutes,” he said. “Now it is four minutes with paid personnel.”
Tench said volunteers sometimes have trouble getting to a dispatch call.
“Some employers wonâ€™t let them off work and some work in Charlotte or elsewhere,” he said.
Tench said volunteer difficulty was one of the main reasons for getting paid firefighters.
“We wanted to try and help people more,” he said.
Tench said the East Lincoln Fire Department does not have a ladder truck, which would be needed in a structure fire such as the one on Wednesday.
When a ladder truck is needed for a call, the Denver Fire Department comes in as mutual aid for the East Lincoln Fire Department.
“If we were dispatched to a structure fire, they would bring the ladder truck,” he said.
Officials say the original location of the lake home fire in Iredell County was the garage. Residents were trying to jump start a Porsche when the fire began.
Although officials are looking into the jump-start attempt, the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
by Amy Wadsworth