Residents Protest Closing Volunteer Fire Dept.

Kemper County's board of supervisors voted last week to close the District 3 volunteer fire department. But firefighters and supporters say they are shocked by this move and won't take it sitting down. They met Monday night to look for solutions.

Volunteers and supporters said they invited the board of supervisors to the meeting but none did.

Assistant Fire Chief James Hurtt says District 3 is the largest district in the county, and shutting down the fire station will have a major impact on the community.

"It's going to take a lot of fire protection away, a lot of health issues," said Hurtt. "There's a lot of people that are going to be more in danger, and their property's going to be more in danger without this station."

Hurtt also says the state-certified emergency medical responders have been told they can't do their jobs.

"They have been told that if they respond, they will go to jail," said Hurtt. "They are not allowed to respond."

Supporters say they hope to get the word out and gain more support to keep the District 3 Station open. They say shutting it down also shuts down the security of local residents depending on it in emergencies.

Newscenter 11 talked with supervisors John Paul Darnell and Johnny Whitsett by telephone. Both declined to comment on camera about the issue. But they said the board voted to shut the station down because it is not structurally-sound. They pointed out the Damascus Volunteer Fire Station is just four to five miles away.

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