Union official questions fire department response to July 4 house fire

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on July 9, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 8:59 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH --The president of the Virginia Beach Firefighters Union is questioning the department's staffing on July 4, the day of a massive house fire in the city.

Fire crews responded to a fire in the 2500 block of Lone Pine Point just after 8:15 p.m.

A report completed after the call shows the department's initial response was one engine truck with three firefighters on board.

Bill Bailey, the union's president, is questioning that response.

Normally, a ladder truck from the same department as the engine truck would respond to the initial alarm. Instead, fire records show the ladder truck remained at the station unmanned.

Battalion Chief Amy Valdez says the ladder truck at Station 1 was unmanned at the time of the call because its three crew members were manning a fire boat patrolling the water.

That boat also responded to the fire and was able to shoot water onto the house from an angle that would have been hard to hit from a truck.  According to both Valdez and Bailey, the fire boat was instrumental in putting out the flames. 

Bailey says the response by the firefighters working that day was commendable, but he questions why the department didn't hire extra firefighters to staff both the boat and the ladder truck on the busy July 4th holiday.

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