My blood was pumping hard and my temper was being tested when I listened from start to ugly finish the events that unfolded one early morning when I was starting my usual day at five AM. I heard the Buffalo County dispatcher communicate the call to service for a small fire on the west side of a private home at the north end of Kearney Nebraska that had been seen by a neighbor and promptly reported.
I felt confident that this would be an easy save by the Kearney Fire Department as they have full time paid Engineers who will have "engine's rolling" to the scene from their multi million dollar fire and rescue pool of equipment from the three stations they have in a city of 35,000 citizens to meet up with the consummate professionals that make up their volunteer squads who have pagers and radios so as to know where to go. Instead I listen with sheer anxiety as none of the squads commanders report in to the now desperate dispatchers repeated pages. The second page was met instead by the Amherst Fire Department's Squad Commander asking if Kearney wanted their assistance and the reply was rapid and affirmative, then another neighboring town's department Commander from Pleasanton offered to assist and was welcomed. By this time the Police officer on scene was reporting that the fire had spread to the house and the whole west wall was involved.... again the county dispatcher hailed for Kearney with no reply. Amherst was shortly 10-97 and setting up as the police reported that the whole house was now nearly completely involved and I was pissed! More than forty minutes had passed and the furthest station from Kearney was twelve minutes away! I had myself moved from coffee to shop and was fully engaged in my duties at work, still listening to the events unfolding on my portable pocket scanner.
It was a brutally cold morning, about eight degrees Fahrenheit and the incident was outside of the city hydrant grid so I knew this was going to be a serious challenge for everyone [been there .. done this].
Finally I hear the Kearney Commanders reporting to the dispatcher and squad commanders from the other towns who came to assist and from that point to the 10-98,10-19 and comforting 10-7 of all units that arrived everything went by the numbers but the house was a total loss.
All who came did their work quickly and professionally from the Kearney departments, the other town crews who reported to the incident commander from Kearney followed the chain of command properly, mindfully and with respect even though they must have wondered, as did I, about the three page's.... where are the Firefighters?,... from Kearney!
***The newspaper account makes no mention of the "three page's" and only remark that the other town's departments assisted.
I feel confident in saying that it is for face saving and avoiding the wrath of the citizens of Kearney whose business community recently realized a 5% tax hike to pay for the multi million dollar renovation of the court and jail as well as the increased budget demands of the Fire Department that this was reported in the manner chosen.***