Union leader says brownouts to blame for College Hill fire response time

Two displaced in College Hill house fire

CINCINNATI -- Two people were displaced Monday after a fire damaged part of a home in College Hill.

Fire crews responded to the blaze in the 6000 block of Budmar Avenue at about 3:15 p.m. after neighbors spotted flames in the back of the house.

When crews arrived, the fire had spread to the attic, but it was quickly contained.

Officials said no one was at home at the time and no injuries were reported, but the president of the Cincinnati Firefighters Union Local 48 say it took too long for crews to arrive at the scene.

“The National Fire Protection Association the (NFPA) who writes the guidelines and standards for firefighters across the United States recommends that the first engine arrive on the scene in 5 minutes and 20 seconds of the call received, so we were double -- twice the amount to get the first engine on the scene," said union president Matt Alter.

In a tweet sent out an hour after the fire call, the union said the first engine was on another run. The second engine, or next closest to the area, was browned out and the only crew left to respond was out of Camp Washington.

The crew's arrival time to Monday's fire was 11 minutes after the call out. It's a situation Alter says crews are finding themselves in far too often because of the city's brownouts.

"Yesterday we had a two-alarm fire on the West End. Two of the first companies that were suppose to arrive on the scene of that fire were browned out... 40 percent of the original dispatch companies were closed yesterday," said Alter.

No one was injured in the fire, which caused more than $25,000 in damage to the home. Alter says with more than 12 percent of fire stations in the city browned out every day is a gamble and the next time they might not be so lucky.

"Every 30 to 60 seconds a fire doubles in size," said Alter.

"So if you are the person who is trapped inside, be it yourself your loved one, your pets or even your belongings that are going up in smoke, seconds are an eternity," he added.

9 On Your Side attempted to contact Cincinnati Fire Chief Richard Braun for a response to the union's claims but
was told he was available for comment until Tuesday.

The displaced residents are being helped by the American Red Cross and have been given a temporary place to stay.

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