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Mon, Nov. 11

HVFD Board responds to allegations, Part II

This is Part II of our response to allegations made by Mr. Eads and Mr. Borker on the Opinion page of the June 3 Kingman Daily Miner. In this release we will address two additional allegations and, as with our first response, supporting documents will be on our Web site.

Allegation No. 3

The "KAR" Fire: In relating information from what has been dubbed the "KAR Fire" (Kingman Automotive Recycling) on Route 66 that occurred on Jan. 24 at a location almost on the boundary between the city of Kingman and Hualapai Valley Fire District, Mr. Eads and Mr. Borker's combined versions allege that HVFD basically shut off water and "abandoned" KFD firefighters on their ladder truck, thus endangering their lives.

A little background information might be useful to you. The area along Route 66 where this fire was located used to be an "automatic aid" area, but automatic aid along Route 66 was discontinued by KFD Chief Osterman when HVFD switched from Kingman Police dispatch to River Medical dispatch. At that time, an HVFD engine would have responded only if requested by KFD under our "mutual aid" agreement. However, due to the proximity to the HVFD, an HVFD engine (No. 2) did respond to the KAR fire, arrived shortly after the first KFD units, and contacted KFD Incident Commander Joe Dorner. The HVFD engine was told by Dorner to pump water to the KFD ladder truck. Upon the arrival of additional KFD fire trucks, the HVFD engine crew asked to be relieved so it could move back into its fire district, and Dorner approved this action and had a KFD engine replace the HVFD engine.

In a response to the former HVFD chairperson, Osterman indicated that at no time was water ever a significant issue and there were never any KFD firefighters' lives in danger when the HVFD engine was released. You can read this letter on our Web site.

Allegation No. 4

Kingman Unified School District: In this allegation, Mr. Eads and Mr. Borker claim that "... a criminal investigation ... [of HVFD and Chief Eder] ... was announced" over the fire/safety inspection of new modular classrooms erected at KHS in 2006. There has never been a criminal investigation discussed by anyone, to our knowledge, except Mr. Eads and Mr. Borker.

In 1997, HVFD adopted the 1997 Uniform Fire Code throughout the district, and this was the code followed by Eder in his fire safety inspection of new modular classrooms being erected at KHS. In 2006, HVFD and all local fire departments conducted inspections of public facilities to include schools under a May 7, 1998, "gentlemen's agreement" between the Arizona State Fire Marshal's office and these departments.

Eder's fire safety inspection found two major fire-related issues affecting the modular classroom complex: 1) the location of the closest fire hydrant to the complex; and 2) the requirement for a fire lane on the west side of the complex. Issue No. 2 was completed satisfactorily by KHS. The fire hydrant was assessed to be too close to the complex for safe use during an emergency, and Eder requested that the fire hydrant in question be relocated or a new fire hydrant be installed on the north end of the modular classroom complex. This new fire hydrant location would prevent fire crews from having to lay fire hose more than 900 feet to position fire engines on the north end of the modular complex in a safe location.

KUSD officials agreed at the time of the inspection but indicated that KUSD could not afford this project until the summer of 2007. They asked Eder if the UFC allowed any alternatives they could use so the modular classrooms could be occupied. Eder indicated that since HVFD's first-responding engines only carry 800 feet of 5-inch hose, the fire hydrant must be relocated for occupancy because the hose carried on HVFD engines would not reach the approximate 900 feet required. After several discussions with KUSD officials, Eder proposed an alternative that KUSD purchase 600 feet of 5-inch used hose to augment hose on the engines until the hydrant was installed or relocated; however, he would only allow that alternative for an 18-month period, at the time of his final approval, Sept. 22. The hose was purchased by KUSD for $3,852 in October and placed in service on HVFD engines that respond to KHS.

The fire hose and fire hydrant became an issue when Mr. Borker addressed a KUSD Board meeting, accusing HVFD and Eder of scamming them. A joint HVFD/KUSD public meeting was held on Dec. 7. No agreement was reached; however, the HVFD Board appointed a committee of two directors, Mr. Bunge, a former fire chief, and Mr. Schrum, a former firefighter, to conduct an investigation into the fire hydrant issue. Bunge and Schrum were assisted by Captain King, HVFD, who conducted a complete review of KHS facilities and applied fire codes. The review determined that a new fire hydrant was required (or the old hydrant relocated).

As a side issue, in spring of 2006, HVFD and other fire departments/districts were advised that the Arizona State Fire Marshal's office was canceling all "gentlemen's agreements," replacing them with an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). With Mohave County Attorney's Office review comments to the proposed IGA, the HVFD Board approved a resolution authorizing Eder to sign the IGA on Nov. 2. The IGA crossed in the mail with the state fire marshal's letter, dated Nov. 8, notifying HVFD that the "gentlemen's agreement" was no longer in effect and that the state fire marshal would assume inspection duties.

At the request of HVFD, State Fire Marshal John Rowlinson came to Kingman to conduct an inspection of the modular classroom complex at KHS on Feb. 20. Rowlinson advised that all IGAs were in the Attorney General's Office for review of format, to include at least six other fire departments/districts in Mohave County.

Rowlinson also discussed a previous inspection by a deputy state fire marshal on Feb. 13. Mr. Rowlinson indicated that he questioned the validity of that inspection, which is why he came to Kingman to conduct his own inspection.

HVFD received the results of Rowlinson's inspection on April 12. Rowlinson's findings were that "... area has limited access for fire department vehicles but does allow access for emergency personnel who must stretch hose lines from apparatus spotted at each end of the rows of buildings." This statement supports relocation or a new fire hydrant at the north end of the modular complex.

Note: On May 11, HVFD was advised by the state fire marshal that approval of IGAs were still pending at the Attorney General's Office.

Visit www.hualapaivalleyfire.com to view original Board meeting minutes and other related documents.

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