Virginia Department Regroups After Fire Hits Station

The members of a small volunteer fire department in southern Virginia are picking up the pieces following a fire at their station last week that destroyed two pieces of apparatus and caused upwards of $1 million in damages.

The call for the blaze at Brosville Community Volunteer Fire & Rescue in Danville was dispatched around 7:39 p.m. on Jan. 26 and luckily, help was only a few doors away.

Firefighter Jack Gates III lives a couple doors down from the station and Firefighter Carole Brown lives down the road. When they heard the call, they rushed to the scene.

The firehouse was unoccupied at the time of the fire, which occurred less than two hours after crews left.

Gates was able to remove two pieces of fire apparatus out of the bays while Brown removed one.

The second vehicle Gates drove out was a 2009 International Piece Tanker that he swung around, jumped out of and immediately pulled out a supply line, hooked it up to a hydrant and began fighting the fire.

Fire Chief Chris Key told Monday that their quick actions helped minimize the damage done to the station.

"They were able to obtain a real quick knock down," he said. "Within 15 minutes from the time the call came in, everything was knocked down at that point. Then it was really doing salvage and overhaul and controlling the scene."

The department lost a 2009 International Hackney crash truck purchased for $270,000, a 2005 ambulance purchased for $135,000 and nearly all of its medical supplies -- which were stored in the bays that burned.

Key said that not only did the crash truck perform rescue duties, but it also served as a fire support truck and carried close to $200,000 in firefighting equipment.

The ambulance was carrying between $50,000 and $60,000 in equipment.

Brosville's members now find themselves with a new appreciation for things they used to take for granted. Currently, they even have to borrow boxes of gloves from a neighboring department for EMS calls.

Key said that currently it appears that everything will be covered through the insurance company, but that it will take months to get everything replaced, repaired, and back to the way it was before.

"Everything was bought through grants and fundraisers. On Jan.23, we just voted to pay that crash truck off. We were going to pay off that truck off and be debt-free for the first time in my 15-year career."

By Friday night, the department went back in to service fully after several factors held them back from jumping right back in following the fire.

"We had to treat this as a crime scene," Key said. "Not being able to get back in immediately and recover, it really hampered us quite a bit."

The State Fire Marshal's office has been investigating the fire and an official cause has not been released.

This isn't the first time a fire has struck a station in the area. Back on Dec. 30, 2001, the Ringgold Fire Department, which sits directly on the other side of town from Brosville station, was gutted and three fire apparatus were destroyed in a overnight blaze.

"If this was in the middle of the night, we would have lost everything also," Key said, adding that Ringgold's firefighters were quick to come to their aid Thursday. "They broke their neck to get here, to make sure ours was saved."