Hanceville’s Nail: ‘I think we’re in a public safety emergency’

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Cullman Tribune file photo

HANCEVILLE – “I’m here to sound the alarm!” said Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail at Thursday night’s Hanceville City Council meeting. Hanceville Fire and Rescue battled two structure fires Wednesday and into the early morning hours of Thursday, and the mayor said there is a serious shortage of volunteer manpower.

“This is a problem. The problem isn’t just in Hanceville. The problem is in Cullman County and in Alabama. We’ve got four full-time firefighters. We responded to 1,100 calls last year. We have five volunteers,” said Nail.

The mayor said a shortage in volunteer firefighters and police reserves is a problem being felt in many areas, explaining, “In the last month, I have heard we were the fourth fire department toned out, and of course we responded. It is starting to be a public safety emergency. Especially the volunteers, these guys do the best they can, but most of them still have to go to work. We have five volunteers. Five! In the daytime, everybody fights fires-everybody. The police, fire, public works; everybody helps.”

Hanceville has already begun basic fire training for its police department, but with fewer people volunteering, Nail said the departments are struggling.

Shared Nail, “One of our fires yesterday, one of the firemen was on the scene by himself for a few minutes before the other guys got there. I’ve done it and (Councilman) Jim (Nuss) has too, rolled up and been the only guy there at a house fire for several minutes. It’s a long several minutes.

“I think we’re in a public safety emergency. I don’t know what the answer is. People don’t volunteer anymore. The volunteers we’ve got are wonderful. They are great, but it’s a serious, serious problem. You have a structure fire at the wrong time during the day, when other folks have gone to work, you’ve/we’ve got problems.”

The City of Hanceville made the decision a couple of years ago to no longer send the fire department to cut trees out of roads. It uses public works for trees to make sure the fire trucks are available for an emergency. Nail asked the council to think about other ideas and solutions. Nail suggested that this be considered in the next year’s budget. 

Nail urged those considering volunteering to call the fire station at 256-352-5544.

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