N.C. town’s volunteer firefighters stop responding to service calls

In North Carolina, fire crews are on strike on Knott’s Island. The volunteer fire department has suspended service after a contract dispute with Currituck County.

KNOTT’S ISLAND, N.C. (WAVY) — In North Carolina, fire crews are on strike on Knotts Island. The volunteer fire department has suspended service after a contract dispute with Currituck County.

As a result, the county has called on Virginia Beach to help in an emergency.

On Knotts Island a large concrete slab is a constant reminder of how quickly a fire can take down a home.

“We never know when there is gonna be a fire,” said JC Edge.

Next door, Edge remembers waking up to the heat and flames.

“I was out here with the hose squirting it down before the fire department even showed up,” he said.

He can’t forget the relief he felt when Knotts Island’s volunteer crews showed up.

“My siding was warped from this last fire, so if they hadn’t gotten here when they did, it may have caught my house on fire also.”

That was almost a year ago.

Friday, it’s a different story at the fire house. The gear is ready to go. The trucks are ready to roll. However, there are no volunteers to respond. They suspended their service on island this week.

“Well, we need ‘em,” Edge said.

It’s the result of a dispute over a contract with Currituck County. Volunteers claim the county wouldn’t negotiate.

Among their demands is one that each permanent employee at the station is a firefighter class 1 and 2 certified.

However with no resolution in sight, the volunteers informed the fire marshal they would stop going on service calls.

In response, Currituck County placed extra fire and EMS employees at the station temporarily. Officials also asked for mutual aid in an emergency from Virginia Beach fire.

“The nearest fire department is 16 miles away,” Edge said. “Which is Creeds, Va.”

With the memory of that January fire still burning, Edge is convinced that it’s because of the volunteers that he still has a home.

“By the time they woulda (sic) got here from Creeds , I think my house would be gone,” Edge said.

It’s a small remote community where Edge thinks volunteer firefighters make a huge difference.