Terlton Down To Two Firefighters After Most Quit Department

Wednesday, February 12th 2014, 11:29 pm
By: Tess Maune

A Green Country town is essentially without a fire department. Nearly every volunteer firefighter in Terlton has quit.

There are only two firefighters in the town to answer fire calls, after 14 volunteers walked out of a meeting Tuesday night.

"What are we gonna do?" asked Terlton resident Renee Randall. "Ya know, how are these people gonna survive if there is a fire? It would be devastating for everyone."

It's the question that's going around the small town of Terlton.

The Terlton Fire Department is all but shut down. Department board president John Harrod said the turmoil began during a board meeting Tuesday night.

"Some of them come in there with an attitude," Harrod said. "They plopped down a letter with a bunch of demands."

We reached out to the fire chief, but never heard back. His ex-wife, who is also a volunteer, sent us a message saying, "I don't believe you're going to be able to get the whole story. All I can say is we had to do what we did for our own safety."

"I believe that some of the people that quit will come back," said Pawnee County Emergency Management Director Mark Randell.

Randell said he's working as a middle man now to help smooth things over between the volunteers and the board. He said the firefighters mainly wanted to change radio equipment because they couldn't communicate with neighboring fire departments through a digital system they just switched over to.

"We'd already given them money for radios. There are five brand new radios sitting over there in boxes that have never been used, so it's not like their demands were really relevant," Harrod said.

Relevant or not, Harrod said, the board couldn't legally make a decision on the matter anyway because it wasn't on the meeting agenda. Even if it were, he said they weren't given enough information.

"They didn't bring us estimates, they didn't bring invoices, they didn't bring anything. They just have these demands. We can't meet them that way," said Harrod

And while the board and volunteers hash out their problems, Randell, has been busy making sure the town will be taken care of.

"I've contacted all the neighboring fire departments; Terlton has 100 percent coverage for any call that should arise," said Randell.

As for those in the community, their wish is for resolve, sooner rather than later.

"I'm a Christian woman and I would like to see more of the community stand together and support each other," Renee Randall said.

There's another volunteer fire department about five miles down the road from Terlton's. That one, along with several others in the area will be covering the town until new volunteers are recruited or until the old volunteers come back.