Miner fire chief explains no mutual aid to Sikeston for Santie Oil fire

City leaders discuss mutual aid controversy in Miner, Sikeston

MINER, MO (KFVS) - The fire at Santie Oil on June 13 caused evacuations and shut down businesses and roads in Sikeston.

While fire crews from around the Heartland made their way to help out, lots of locals used social media to ask why the Miner Fire Department didn't do its part to help.

"With a disaster as big as the Santie fire was, I feel like it should have been all hands on deck," a Scott County resident said.

The Miner fire chief explained the absence on the department's Facebook page.

The Miner mayor said, currently, the Miner Fire Department only has one fire truck. Mayor Darren Chapman said with the limited resources they have, he never wants to leave the city unprotected.

However, some locals say, in this case, an exception should have been made.

"They let politics get in the way of public safety and I feel like that's a big problem," the Scott County resident said.

Miner Fire Department Chief Zach Albright said he's been getting a lot of flak lately when his crew didn't help out while crews fought the massive fire less than eight miles away from its station.

"Miner and Sikeston kind of just run together, they should be able to help each other," Scott County resident Shelia Lofton said.

According to Chief Albright, it was the mayor who decided to not provide mutual aid to Sikeston. As Albright explained to citizens, the firefighters were ready and willing.

"They wanted to help out because firefighters are a brotherhood," a Scott County resident said.

Mayor Chapman released this statement:

"A few months ago I put a protocol into place that our fire truck does not leave city limits, leaving our town unprotected.

Here is the verbatim of the phone conversation between the dispatcher and Miner emergency crews, given to Heartland News by Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden.

"*Ring* Miner police."
"Hey, Sonny?"
"Can you page up to your fire department to move into our stations because we are working this large fire at Santie Oil?"
"They won't let us take our pump out of town."
"Oh. Ok. I'll let the chief know."
"Ok. Sorry."
"Thank you."
"You're welcome. Bye."

Heartland News asked Chief Albright about that call. He says the man who answered the phone was simply following the Mayor's directive to never take Miner's only fire truck out of the city.

Again, that's a protocol the mayor says he put into place a few months ago.

According to Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden, the request wouldn't require a truck. They only wanted Miner to occupy Sikeston's stations while its crews fought the fire.

"Miner was asked to come into the city and provide back-fill in one of our fire stations, not to respond to the actual fire," Chief Juden said.

Still, Juden said this won't stop Sikeston from helping out Miner in the future.

"This is not kindergarten, we are not going to be childish in how we conduct ourselves. We will continue to provide mutual aid for them," Chief Juden said.

Chief Juden said the mutual aid agreement between Miner and Sikeston, or between any departments, are not binding.

The department that is asked to help has the right to refuse.

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