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Firefighter has to fight fire alone in Washington Park

WASHINGTON PARK, IL (KTVI) – It was a tough night for firefighters in the Metro East.  A fire broke out around 1:30 p.m. at a vacant house on Westmoreland Avenue in Washington Park, IL.

Washington Park’s lone firefighter worked by himself to keep the fire from spreading to an occupied home next door.  Help from nearby fire districts didn’t arrive for half an hour.

Dontay Brooks said he is now a volunteer with the department because of budget cuts.

“It is tough to be here with just the six volunteers that are here,” he said.  The Washington Park fire department has 6 volunteers and it is not unusual for there to only be one on duty at any given time.  At the time of the fire, Brooks was the only one at the fire house.  The fire chief is a city employee.

A police officer tried to wake the woman in the house next door, but got no answer.  She finally woke up when firefighters started spraying water on her house.

No one was injured.

13 comments

  • Steve Morgan

    There is more to this story. if this department only has six volunteers they are way upstaffed. Was mutal aid called and if so when?

  • Edward Roche

    I would like to know how he battled the fire for 35 minutes alone.
    There is not enough water on the engine to last that long.
    One video shows serveal FF’s pulling a supply line off the engine.

  • Gary Eaker

    It depends on the size of the tank on the firetruck Edward, and how good a fireman he is in conserving what water he has. Some fireman can make a little water go a long way. Its part of our training.

  • Shawn Curtis

    As absurd as it sounds, if the city has no money to pay for firefighter’s salaries and only a few volunteer, this is what happens. The community of Washington Park needs to step up and fill the shortage of volunteers or pay more taxes so the city can pay the salary of some paid-on-call or full-time firefighters. Maybe the fire chief or the city’s mayor should hit the streets and try and get the word out and drum up some volunteers. Many times, the citizens are not aware of the problem and don’t realize that it’s possible to be a volunteer firefighter.You get better training, more consistent talent and more skilled firefighters if you pay them well. People tend to overlook the old saying “You get what you pay for”. The truth of the matter is that, if you don’t pay for a full-time firefighting crew, you should be glad that you don’t have to try and put it out yourself with a garden hose. Mr. Brooks and his fellow volunteers should be getting paid, They are courageously risking their safety to protect the lives and property of others out of the goodness of their heart.

  • Irwin Fletcher

    For the size of Washington park, and number of residents, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to have a paid department. But then again, they don’t have people volunteering to help either.

  • Fire117

    Fire protection policy is determined by local government. Whether it is the city council, county trustees, fire district board (if a fire district exists), etc., this particular jurisdiction knew that it only had 6 volunteer firefighters. How could they not.

    The local residents need to be asking questions, why the FD is understaffed. Whether it is adding paid personal or increasing the volunteer roster, something needs to be done. The local gov’t that control the fire dept., needs to get their act together and increase the fire fighting force.

  • Bob

    Apparently the town tried to file for bankruptcy recently, also they are talking about disbanding their police force.

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