Fire protection concerns in Mound House

MOUND HOUSE - Recent fires have raised the concerns of local residents about this community's fire protection.

"We need a better effort to make the people aware we don't have a volunteer force in Mound House. People are responding, but not from here. I haven't seen a lot of action to make them aware," said advisory council member Larry Rickman.

The Mound House Volunteer Fire Department currently has four volunteers, all of whom have full-time jobs during the day, including the volunteer chief, who's job often takes him out of town during the week.

Central Lyon County Fire Chief Bill Driscoll said, "The community would be better protected if it had its own responders out, but they are being covered by Dayton and Silver City."

Driscoll said the answer to finding more volunteers is recruitment.

Rickman asked what is being done to improve the water system on the south side of Highway 50 and questioned the fire district's efforts to make the community aware of the status of the volunteer force here.

"We are not ignoring the situation, but we need someone in the community to get passionate about it. There is a lot of lip service, but there is no action here," Driscoll said. "We can provide the resources to help, but we need someone to carry the ball. It's a neighbor helping neighbor concept."

Driscoll said intensive recruiting at the Mark Twain station resulted in an increase from two to 25 volunteers in the past year.

"State and federal mandated training requirements have taken the fun factor out of volunteering. We have a lot of people who would like to join, but the commitment of time is too great for many," he added.

According to Driscoll, it takes about 52 hours of training to become a firefighter. Requirements are also stringent for volunteers wishing to serve only as ambulance and fire apparatus drivers.

"A driver of an ambulance must be an Emergency Medical Technician, which is absolutely ridiculous," Driscoll said. "You must have a special "F" endorsement to drive a fire truck, but those requirements shouldn't be difficult to meet for a professional truck driver."

The district's fire prevention officer is working with County Engineer Dan O'Brien on the installation of fire hydrants along Highway 50.

"When the water line extension was put in - about a year ago - we required the hydrants be put in at that time, but they weren't," Driscoll said.

O'Brien said contract bids for the hydrants on the south side of the highway to Kit Kat Lane will go out in a few weeks, and the project should be completed in about three months. An extension of a water line down Kit Kat Lane, the site of the recent brothel fire, will have to wait until adjacent property owners are willing to foot the bill, however.

The installation of a water tank on Linehan Road is moving forward and will increase water pressure, but residents living above the tank will not see improved water flows. A necessary second tank, will be installed at the higher end of the road, is about two years away, said O'Brien.

Lillian Cash, a resident of Lemon Drive, said she has been subjected to the old water system's troubles for a number of years.

"We were out of water again for six hours a few days ago. If I wash clothes or flush the toilet, I don't have water in the kitchen sink," she said.

O'Brien said he has been assessing community needs and is working on a master water plan for the entire Mound House area.

"Improvements are needed. Going into the next budget cycle we will have a better handle on the situation. We need to figure out a plan of attack and see how we can address this issue," he said.


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