Jonesboro Fire Department Faces Staff Shortages and Aging Equipment

October 15, 2004 – Posted at 2:16 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Questions about the shape of Jonesboro's Fire Departments emerged from Thursday night's mayoral debate at the Nettleton Performing Arts Center. A shortage of staff and aging equipment isn't making fighting fires any easier, but the department has an optimistic outlook.

Jonesboro Fire Department Assistant Chief Aaron Keller said, "You've got one man standing there trying to put out a house fire, tying to save people's property that's maybe 2000 square feet building. And it's just one guy for three or four minutes and fire doubles in size every four to seven minutes, so the fire is staying ahead of your man power."

And if you've ever lost a home in a fire, you'll understand the importance of manpower.

"Manpower is pretty important on the fire scene. Everything is just moving real fast," said Keller.

Jonesboro's mayoral candidates debated the issue of funding and more men at Thursday night's forum. But the real issues are at the Jonesboro Fire Department.

"We have had trucks break down at the scene of fires, but luckily there wasn't life or property at danger," said Keller.

JFD has 16 trucks total and one engine at every station, but some are more than 30 years old. A new ladder truck would cost the Jonesboro Fire Department anywhere from $450,000 to $500,000 dollars and it would take almost a year to build.

"We just feel better when we go to a scene and can depend on a truck and not have to worry about that, because we've got so much other stuff to worry about," said Keller.

JFD is also in the process of putting new roofs on Stations Three, Five and Six, and Station Two just received a block grant for an upgrade.

"A third of our life is spent here at the station, so it's a home away from home," said Keller.

The Jonesboro Fire Department is currently accepting bids for the renovation projects underway.