Knightdale’s Fire Department understaffed and under funded, report says

Wake County News

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) — A study of the Knightdale Fire Department found it needs additional firefighters, another fire station and two new fire vehicles.

The town commissioned the study. CBS 17 first requested the report after a concerned resident reached out.

RELATED: Click here to read the full report about the Knightdale Fire Dept. (pdf document)

The report found that the Knightdale Fire Department handles about 1,500 calls for service each year. Between 2007 and 2017 it determined service demand was up by 59.52 percent.

The study also looked at how many residents per firefighter there are and compared that to other municipalities in Wake County.

The report found in Knightdale there’s one firefighter per 1,769 residents. That’s compared to other municipal fire departments where the median is one firefighter to 539 residents. 

“How could you put off someone’s house burning?” Eddie Anderson, a Knightdale homeowner said.

Anderson was the victim of a house fire back in May 2017. He said it took longer than it should have for the fire department to respond. 

“The right side of the minivan caught on fire and so it just caught this latern and stuff right here on fire. So we’re sitting here waiting on the fire truck, so it shot out the motor to her SUV and just burnt all that up,” Anderson said.

According to the town’s report, firefighters arrived on scene in nine minutes. They were already on another call.

Anderson said the delay allowed the fire to spread. He told CBS 17 the repairs cost upwards of a $100,000. 

The study found the “most significant need is staffing.” There’s also “an immediate need for an additional fire station.”

RELATED: Click here to read the full report about the Knightdale Fire Dept. (pdf document)

 Then there’s what they referred to as “an aging fire fleet” and the need to repair two apparatus. 

Knightdale was ranked last out of all the municipal fire departments in Wake County. 

“I’m not sure the response times are that much higher. I know there’s an issue that we need another station and certainly, we always need more firefighters,” Russell Killen, a town councilman said.

Killen was the only town official willing to talk to CBS 17 about the study. 

“Clearly we want to improve our response times here but the town is doing a good job. I think it’s important to know that we’ve got a great insurance rating,” Killen said.

In a statement the town said:

 “The Town of Knightdale has a single ladder truck in service. It is the next vehicle in our fleet scheduled for replacement. As happens with all apparatus, it is reaching the end of its service life and is experiencing increased service needs due to its time in service. All Fire Departments in the area experience similar issues with apparatus going into service at times. For that and other reasons, the Knightdale Fire Department participates in mutual aid response along with all other departments in Wake County. Mutual aid ensures an appropriate response level of personnel and apparatus for all emergencies across all jurisdictions. The Town has a strong history of providing exceptional public safety services to our citizens and is committed to doing so in the future.”

Killen said the town will use the study in its budget and planning processes moving forward.

Anderson said that can’t happen soon enough. 

“We had another call, so they had to go to another call and we had to stand out here and watch our house burn,” Anderson said.

RELATED: Click here to read the full report about the Knightdale Fire Dept. (pdf document)

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