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The handful of people in the Walnut Grove community who call themselves the Walnut Grove Fire Department are to be commended for the strides they have made in developing a fire department for their community. They have two fire trucks – a pumper and a rescue truck – as well as turnout gear, rescue equipment, and according to information shared at a recent meeting, personnel trained to do the job.
The department has letters of incorporation as a not-for-profit corporation, a website and they’ve even got their own logo and “patch.”
But they may have the cart before the horse because they are not a recognized fire department, nor can they be unless Squires agrees to it, or they sue and the court rules in their favor. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.
We’re not talking about two retail businesses vying for customers or two car dealers trying to make the best deal.
Firefighting is dangerous business, and where we live every department is shorthanded because all departments are operated by volunteers. Adjoining departments have to support one another and work together. That is not likely to happen if the issue is forced to a judge’s ruling. It’s dangerous enough to go into a burning building with people you know and trust. How would you feel if the person backing you up had just seen his financially-strapped department spend thousands of dollars –that they didn’t have – in legal fees to defend his department’s case in court?
The most logical solution to the Walnut Grove issue would be to make Walnut Grove a satellite station to Squires. The Walnut Grove people have a legitimate concern. It’s a long way from Squires to where they live. And Goodhope is not a feasible alternative because of Beaver Creek. Fire trucks should not be crossing the Rome bridge. Could they? Probably. Should they? No.
However, if the Walnut Grove people and the Squires people would work together, they could develop a strong and viable rural fire department that would be the envy of others.
Ava Rural Fire Department is facing the same logistical situation as Squires, when it comes to the Sweden area east of Ava. It takes a long time to get there. Ava Rural needs a satellite station east of Ava to fill that void before you get to Skyline, Drury, or Dora. But there is no one there to fill that gap. A survey was conducted a few years ago in hopes of establishing a fire department in the Sweden area. Land would have been given for a station, but there was not a sufficient number of willing volunteers to man it. So it was never built.
In a similar situation to the northwest, Ava Rural gave its blessing to folks in Douglas County who wished to be part of the Southern Webster County Fire Protection District.
Walnut Grove has the resources to make their station work, but they need the support and backing of Squires as their parent organization. Squires has suggested that, but will Walnut Grove consider it? Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.