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NBC 15 investigates Theodore resident's concerns over cutback in fire coverage

(IMG: Theodore/Dawes Volunteer Fire Dept.) NBC 15 investigates Theodore resident's concerns over cutback in fire coverage
(IMG: Theodore/Dawes Volunteer Fire Dept.) NBC 15 investigates Theodore resident's concerns over cutback in fire coverage

Brand new body camera footage highlights the frequent and dangerous duties volunteer firefighters face daily in Theodore.

Mobile Fire stopped covering Theodore in September. More than six months after the change, some residents tell NBC 15 they’re worried.

Residents aren't doubting the firefighter's abilities in the least, rather they worry crews don't have enough money or equipment to respond like before Mobile cutback coverage.

NBC 15 crunched the numbers and asked the tough questions to find out if the cutback in coverage is putting families at risk.

Body camera footage from Theodore Dawes volunteer fire department shows the intense flames that consumed the Colwell family's home in early April.

Before crews could arrive on scene, two children pulled their 11-year-old brother from the fire. Boogie Colwell suffered severe burns.

“My husband and my son went down there and they were about there for about 30 minutes before I ever even heard an ambulance or a fire truck,” a neighbor named Donna said.

When it's life or death, every second feels like forever waiting for help.

NBC 15 listened to the 911 recordings.

Five minutes and 30 seconds after dispatch got the call, Theodore Volunteer Fire Department's first unit pulled out of the station. Nearly eight minutes later, it arrived on scene.

That's 13 minutes and 25 seconds in total from call to on scene service.

“We appreciate the volunteers most definitely because they are all put their lives on the line, but still I think we need a better system,” Donna said.

Donna's street is 1.7 miles from a Mobile Fire Station which doesn't protect her. The street is 4.8 miles from the Theodore-Dawes fire department that does.

“I’m very concerned, very concerned,” Donna said.

She's not alone.

“To see people with injuries, it affects families as well as communities,” Theodore resident Cody Flowers said.

The Theodore-Dawes fire department has around 30 firefighters but just two are paid -- One a paid driver, another a part time firefighter.

The department tells us they average 375 calls per month. That's about 12 calls a day answered... for free.

In a statement, the department told NBC 15:

"if any situation overwhelms our resources we have always counted on Mobile fire for mutual aid and they have not been hesitant at responding."

We saw that April 4th when a storage unit fire was so bad, Mobile had to come assist in the blaze that burned all day and night.

Theodore is not in the city and Mobile is under no obligation to provide fire service here.

Mobile Fire didn't respond to us today, but we know the department reached its goal of an ISO one rating last year, just a couple of months after it stopped covering Theodore.