Some Fruitland, MO residents have 'reservations' on switching to 24-hr fire department

Ex-firefighter weighs in on 24-hour Fruitland station
Updated: Mar. 20, 2017 at 5:09 PM CDT
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FRUITLAND, MO (KFVS) - Fruitland, Missouri resident Travis Shepard is very clear: he wants better response times from the fire department, but he doesn't believe turning it into a 24 hour station would help.

"I believe they are going about it the wrong way," he said. "I don't believe they're doing it for the right reasons."

Travis Shepard, an ex Fruitland firefighter, said his reason for questioning the move to a 24-hour department is simple.

"Being there 24 hours isn't an increase in service," he said. "It just puts people in the station 24 hours."

Fruitland Fire Chief Rob Francis is asking voters to approve an additional property tax of no more than 50 cents on $100.

The push comes as the chief said his department respond to more calls than ever.

On Friday, Francis said being a volunteer fire department with that many calls have become a challenge.

"Most of us have to respond from work or school," the chief said. "Day calls are where we are actually short."

However, Shepard said his experience in being a first responder leads him to believe this will not be good for Fruitland.

"I have reservations," Shepard said. "I have seen volunteer departments that went from volunteer to paid or combination and they push volunteers out the door and now they can't understand why they only have three people responding to fire calls."

Now, with two weeks before residents head to the polls, Shepard said it's time to get serious about this.

"Before this could go to a vote, I think they need to have more informational meetings," he said. "I think the residents of the district needs to educate themselves."

When we tried reaching out to Chief Francis on Monday, March 20, his phone kept going to voicemail. However, a week before he said he planned to reach out to voters to help explain this some more before polls open on April 4.

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