When the nearest fire station isn't your fire station

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on December 4, 2012 at 12:07 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 4 at 8:55 AM

Warbler Lane

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DENTON COUNTY — Angela Howard sifted through the ashes of her mobile home. She was hoping to find anything untouched by the flames, but she is grateful she and her family survived the fire that destroyed their residence on Warbler Lane in Denton County last weekend.

"My brother got the kids out, got my mom out," Howard said. "I double checked on the porch. I counted everybody. I walked out and there were people already on our porch and I was screaming, 'Help us, please!'"

The Justin Fire Department, a volunteer organization, responded to her calls for help. The problem: It's nearly 11 miles away, and the station had to call personnel in to respond.

It took firefighters 13 minutes to get there.

"We have to wait for Justin," Howard said. "It's unfortunate, because I think that we may have been able to salvage something, but we lost two vehicles and our entire home."

Howard's frustration lies in the fact that there is a fire station closer to her home. It’s six miles away... but it's in Fort Worth.

The Fort Worth Fire Department told News 8 a resident who saw the fire from their home got a call related to the incident. The agency dispatched a unit, but determined the call was out of their jurisdiction.

Tarrant County dispatchers told Fort Worth that crews from other fire departments were on the way.

Angela Howard struggles to understand the policies and procedures in place.

"Why can't we get someone in here to help save lives?" she asked. "Do whatever they can do?"

But the Fort Worth and Justin fire departments do not have a mutual aid agreement.

Families here hope city leaders from all sides step in and reach agreement that can provide better coverage for all.

"I don't think there's a lot we can do but voice our opinions," said homeowner Walter Hobbs. "With enough voices pulled together, maybe we can something done, I think."

The Fort Worth Fire Department maintains that their policy is: "If in doubt, send a crew out."

The Howard family and their neighbors want an agreement that can provide better coverage for everyone.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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