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UPDATE: Pike County fire department reopens

By: Hillary Thornton, Whitney Burks Email
By: Hillary Thornton, Whitney Burks Email
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PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 4/10/14

A volunteer fire department that was forced to close is open again.
An audit of the Hatfield Fire Department by the Kentucky Fire Commission revealed problems, including having only three firefighters on the roster when the state requires twelve. Now, there has been a community effort to turn things around.

The doors are back open at Hatfield Volunteer Fire Department after being closed for about a month.

Van Gibbs says, "Whatever went on here in the past, it is over. We started new."

The department now has a roster of 15, with only one returning firefighter, and a brand new six member board.

All of the men and women in the community who stepped up to fill the positions of firefighters and board members say they are happy to help out their community to get the department back in service.

Jody Bailey says, "It's a small community and you know you can't get a whole lot of help other than us guys here on the creek, so I stepped in."

Chief Earn Davis, is the only previous member and says while they are back in service there is still a lot of work left to do.

Davis says, "Our gear is all outdated, so we need new gear."

Basically starting the department from scratch, officials are now raising money and applying for grants to train the new firefighters as well as update their equipment.

Gibbs says, "We've got our feet to the ground running. It's going to be awhile but were gonna get there."

They also want to create a department the community can be proud of.

Bailey says, "We want them to feel safe that their dues are going to the right reason and that's what it's gonna be about. It's actually the community's place, we just run it."

Volunteers with the Hatfield Fire Department say they are thankful for all the other departments in the area that helped them during this transition.

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A volunteer fire department in Pike County is shutting its doors at least for now.

The Kentucky Fire Commission recently audited Hatfield Volunteer Fire Department and determined there were not enough firefighters to meet requirements.

Some folks in the area are worried what that will mean for their community.

"They didn't have enough people to be a fire department under Kentucky's statutes, so it needs to be reorganized and get some interest out of the community," said Emergency Management Director Doug Tackett.

The commission requires the department to have at least 12 firefighters and a fire chief, but county officials say it only had three.

Shutting the doors at Hatfield Volunteer Fire Department means other fire departments will have to pick up the slack, meaning response times will be longer.

Belfry, Turkey Creek and Big Creek Fire Departments will now take the calls, but that leaves some folks a little uneasy.

"We live in such a rural area it'll take the other fire departments such a long time to get here. By that time there will probably be major destruction already done," said Larry Romans.

Romans is used to having the fire department less than a mile from his home.

"They've just been so helpful to us since they've been in service, probably 10-15 years now," he said.

Now he says it is time for the community to act and reopen the doors on this community comfort.

"I think especially the younger generation should kind of step up and help the people out here and get this thing back up and running as it needs to be," said Romans.

Emergency Management officials are holding a community meeting January 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the fire department hoping to generate interest and get it back open as soon as possible.


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