If you don’t perform, don’t volunteer

I am writing in regard to the recent article written by Ron Gholson about the West Blount Fire Department.

On June 27, at 6 a.m., I discovered our house on fire and I phoned 911 almost immediately. The fire had begun in our basement and I am really not sure how long it had been burning, but it was contained to one room in the corner of our home. There was nothing in that room but carpet and a mattress, so we can only assume it was electrical in nature.

After phoning 911, we drug a hose into the basement and tried to put the fire out, but the smoke and fumes almost overwhelmed us and we had to run. I believed the fire department would be there in moments. They did not arrive until 45 minutes later after we had made a second call.

By this time, the house was gone and all that was left to do was try to contain the fire, and I instructed them to save the storage buildings next to the house. We have video from a cell phone verifying the fire department pulling up in the yard and the house is practically on the ground in flames.

We had three fire departments to respond to the fire and they all got there before Bangor Fire Department: Warrior, Hanceville, and Blountsville. A couple of days after the fire, I began requesting a fire report so we could get assistance. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, we had no insurance to cover our loss, and to this date we still have not acquired a fire report. If it had not been for my wonderful church I do not know what this family would have done. We could not get aid from the local agencies because we did not have a fire report.

I left messages for Chief Mike Watson (Bangor Fire Department chief) on five different occasions and finally spoke to him once. During our one and only phone conversation, he assured me he would find out about the report, because he was not present during the fire. I called him back, as he instructed, and I was never able to get in touch with him again.

So, I can only assume a report was never made, leaving us to drown financially. If it had not been for the help of EMA, I would have never been able to even contact the chief. They tried several times to assist me in my efforts to obtain the report.

We are retired and this has been devastating for this family. If these volunteer fire departments won’t or can’t respond to a fire nor have the training necessary to effectively put out a fire, they should not be funded and should be closed down. The result of whether there is a volunteer fire department or not has no relevance when the result is the same. The fire was contained to the basement when the call was made to 911 and our home burned to the ground, with nothing left but ashes to shovel! I wanted to make the new Chief Scotty Schnittker aware of another one of the failures of this area department to deliver the service that they VOLUNTEER to perform.

Pam Carnes


Editor’s note: The Carnes home is in the Bangor Volunteer Fire Department coverage area. Scotty Schnittker is the new fire chief of the West Blount Volunteer Fire Department, which was among departments responding to the fire at the Carnes residence.