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6:59 PM Tue, Dec. 11th

Pinion Pine may stop fire protection to truck stop

Without help from the largest business in the area, Pinion Pine Fire Department may stop providing fire protection for Petro Stopping Center, which sits along Interstate 40 just east of Kingman.

Depending on a vote at an upcoming fire district meeting Nov.

13, the small fire department on D.W.

Ranch Road will stop providing fire and medical service to the truck stop starting in January.

PPFD fire Chief Joe Jackson expects the fire district board to approve a motion to stop service to Petro.

"If the board approves it and I don't doubt they will, we'll find it very hard for our department to respond," PPFD Chief Joe Jackson said.

"It's nothing we want to do as a fire district, but we have to have support for the services.

We haven't given up on the existing annexation, but it doesn't look good now."

PPFD officials have repeatedly asked the corporate owners of the truck stop - the largest of three truck stops east of Kingman - to be annexed into the fire district to help fund the rural department, Jackson said.

"They felt like it was too much money," District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers said.

"I tried to get them to join the district.

They felt it wasn't worth it to them.

I can't force them to join.

It's not very cooperative for them not to be involved in the community."

The truck stop owners have repeatedly refused requests to join the annexation to the fire district.

A manager at the truck stop would not comment on their refusal.

Calls to Petro corporate office in El Paso, Texas were not returned.

The truck stop, on Blake Ranch Road about 10 miles east of Kingman, offers truckers and travelers gas, a travel store, an arcade, a restaurant, several fast-food restaurants and a truck service center.

Being the only fire department east of Kingman, the firefighters covers an area from Kingman city limits east to the county line along Interstate 40, including the truck stops and several neighboring businesses as well as residences.

Jackson said his department responds out of courtesy to truck fires and traffic accidents as well as residential and commercial fires including Petro.

He estimates his department responds to 40 to 50 calls to Petro Stopping Center each year.

If Petro has a medical emergency, an ambulance from Kingman, taking up to 20 minutes to respond, would be called.

For other emergency calls, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office would seek assistance from another out-of-district fire department, Jackson said.

The fire department would probably restrict its fire protection coverage to accidents on Interstate 40 and brush fires in the district, Jackson said.

Petro's tax base is more than 51 percent of the accessed property value of businesses in the area.

Without tax revenue from Petro, the rest of the commercial businesses would not be enough, Jackson said.

If the truck stop owners had agreed to be annexed, PPFD had hoped to collect between $22,000 to $28,000 per year from Petro alone.

If the annexation of Petro and other residences and businesses were approved, PPFD would have received about $40,000 a year in total property taxes.

Jackson said the board might annex other parts of the county, excluding Petro.

Of the residences in the proposed annexation, 100 percent agreed to be annexed.

Pinion Pine currently has 15 firefighters, but only four are paid, the rest are volunteers.

Of the paid fire crew, three are full time.

Most of the current volunteers live in Kingman, a substantial distance from the station.

Jackson said one of his goals is to open a second fire station on D.W.

Ranch Road at Interstate 40.

Ideally, Jackson would like to see a two-person crew manning both stations 24 hours a day.

Currently the existing station is open only until 9 p.m.

Jackson alone takes one of the fire engines home at night in case of a fire, he said.

PPFD currently runs on a budget of almost $200,000 a year.

Of that only $56,000 in property taxes is allocated to the department, which has to raise the rest mostly from the state when the department is called to fight out-of-district fires, he said.