Fatal fire leads to questions on budget cuts - WNEM TV 5

Fatal fire leads to questions on budget cuts

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

A fatal fire in Flint happened just blocks away from an unstaffed fire station, which has some residents asking questions.

The responding firefighters came from a fire station further away.

"It hasn't been opened since I've been appointed," Flint Fire Chief Raymond Barton said.

He is talking about Fire Station No. 8. He said the station is what he calls "browned out." That means the facility is open, but there's no one to staff it.

Thanks to budget cuts, Barton said he only has 14 firefighters that can keep four of the city's fire stations open.

Three children died in a fire less than a mile from station eight on Friday.

"You have to take into consideration the time the fire came in. The call goes to Genesee County, then Genesee County calls the fire department and dispatched them. And during the time that comes in, guys would've been in the bed, get up, get dressed, get to the scene and respond," Barton said.

It was 9 minutes from the time the 911 call was placed until crews arrived. Those firefighters came from station one in downtown Flint.

Barton said it's hard to say if the response time would have been faster if station eight was staffed.

"It's possibly a little faster, but I don't think it would've been fast enough where it would've made a difference," Barton said.

He admits every second matters in his line of work and he believes all stations should be open all the time. Barton urges voters to pass a police and fire millage in November that would bolster their ranks.

"I agree with the public and we're trying and working with the mayor. We're seeking a safer grant and trying to do everything we can to get all our fire stations opened and the trucks staffed," Barton said.

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