Fight forces ETX fire department out of firehouse

The Perryville Volunteer Fire Department has lost its fire house after a long disagreement over how to run it. Fire fighters moved out three weeks ago.

Now they're parking the trucks on land by their own homes. They said it's not possible anymore to use the building under the terms it's being offered."

Oil spots are all that's left inside the garage at Perryville's firehouse. The fire fighters and their trucks are no longer welcome.

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Fire Chief David Alexander said.

Alexander said all of this goes back to a year and a half ago when former fire fighter Cloddie Henson was kicked out of the department for berating a fellow fire fighter.

"This was not his first instance of this," Alexander said. "He'd been removed from fire scenes in the past by numerous fire departments. He's no stranger to trouble."

Henson said he was kicked out for questioning a lack of record keeping. Since then he's joined the group that controls the building--which is separate from the department itself.

"It was a balance of power is what it was," Henson said. "So that one could keep an eye on the other one, so to speak."

"An ex-firefighter regulating fire department money is not a good thing," Alexander said. "Because there's going to be a grudge there."

Alexander and his team saw the writing on the wall and got the ball rolling on a new fire station that Henson would have no control over. But Henson rallied his group to crack down when the department changed its by-laws to remove references to the encumbered building.

Henson tried to get Wood County to cut off the money.

"They bought land about 1.8 miles from the station, which puts them out of the five mile [insurance pricing] radius for a lot of homes," Henson said.

Henson offered the department a strict lease with monetary deposits and language that would have essentially replaced the missing by-laws. But the department pulled the plug and moved out.

The department has drawn a line in the sand, saying the only way to fix the situation is for the community board to hand over control of the building. The board is not willing to budge on that.

Right now it does not look like this is hurting people who live in the area. But a new station further to the north could mean longer response times for people on the south end of Perryville's jurisdiction.


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