Charleston Fire Chief: Response time was 'unsatisfactory'

John Gaddy (WCIV)

By Stacy

CAINHOY, S.C. (WCIV) -- Bill Pesature has been a firefighter for almost 30 years and he was concerned when he saw what happened with the Cain Crossing fire on Labor Day.

"As a fireman, a 14-minute response time is very excessive that puts everybody in danger," he said.

Charleston Fire Chief Karen Brack agreed. She called the amount of time "unsatisfactory." She also said there was another mistake made Monday night: no one ever called Mount Pleasant Fire to help.

"It really should've happened," Brack said.

After the fire, people in Cain Crossing wanted to know why Charleston Fire responded instead of crews from Mount Pleasant. They said there was a Mount Pleasant station much closer and could've gotten there much faster. We at ABCNews4 decided to test it out.{}

We tried to drive both routes around the speed limit; we had to deal with traffic, but in total it was 4.6 miles and took about 7 minutes to get from Mount Pleasant FD Station 5 to the town home in Cain Crossing.

The trip from Charleston Fire Department Station 20 was three miles longer. Brack said someone should've called Mount Pleasant.

"But the thing is, it's sort of a misconception they would've gotten there that much faster," she said. "Once that dispatch happened and you call for mutual aid, there is a series of events that can take anywhere from three to seven minutes."

She said that time includes making the call, getting someone to answer and getting the crews ready and out of the station.

But Mount Pleasant Assistant Fire Chief Robert Wagenbrenner said the process shouldn't be hard, using their interoperable radio system.

"We're all on the same radio," he said.

Wagenbrenner said Mount Pleasant only responds if they're called because the town does not participate in "automatic aid."

"It's just not in the best interests of the residents of Mount Pleasant," Wagenbrenner said.

Brack said she's asked Mount Pleasant to join automatic aid and it's an ongoing conversation.

But all of that doesn't sit well with Pesature, who's a Mount Pleasant resident.

"I'm a resident and I want units in my front yard if there's a fire," Pesature said. "And if the closest units are City of Charleston, why can't they come here?"

He only cared that someone could put out a fire fast, rather than whose name was on the side of the truck.

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