These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

9-1 what?

while talking to my sister recently, she mentioned an incident concerning 911 that alarmed me and caused me to have some concern for my family, all of whom live in rural areas of south texas.

apparently, one saturday night a few weeks ago, the catholic church in benavides was having its weekly bingo festivities, something its done since i can remember. they have the bingo in a church hall adjacent to the church.

while cooking something (they used to make great hamburgers), something started smoking in the kitchen. a piece of hamburger got stuck somewhere it wasn't supposed to or something like that.

the ladies went to work to stop the smoke and perhaps even the smoke detectors wentoff. either way, they were concerned and wanted the fire dept. to come and check it out to make sure there wasn't anything electrical or otherwise wrong with the kitchen and a fire would erupt during thenight after everyone was gone.

they call up 911 and tell them the situation. so far so good, right? that's the wayit usually works. they explained the situation.

then something incredulous happened. the 911 dispatcher said the fire department couldn't make it out there because it was all volunteers.

benavides is a small town of less than 2000 people. so there are plenty of homes in th4e city that could catch fire. not to mention a civic center, a church or two and various school buildings. oh , and a shitty little city hall building.

so what happens if one of these structures catches fire? oh sorry, we can't save your schol because the dept. consists of volunteers. sorry if your students have to go to another school district and have to be bused 15 miles away. sorry if taxpayers will have to fork over more tax money to rebuild a new school because we only have volunteers to work at the fire dept.

that's completely unacceptable. i think the peopple of benavides should be up in arms about this. the bingo hall wasn't on fire, but what if it had? it wold have gone up. by the time the nearest fire dept. (san diego, which is about 15 miles away) arrived, it would have been too late. i'm sure the fire, though, would have attracted some spectators, maybe even a few of the volunteer firefighters who would have fought the fire.

it is such backward logic. we have volunteer fire dept. up here in the holland area. folland township, whcich has a larger populaton than holland is run by a volunteer fire dept. i can't imagine the 911 dispatcher says to a homeowner whose house is on fire, "sorry, they can't make it out there beause they're volunteers." people would be furious and i'd bet somebody's sue over it.

word to your mutha: "they call me the fireman, oh yes they do..."


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