published Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Firefighters save South Pittsburg commissioner's house

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    When Robert and Rita Petty woke up their neighbor Commissioner Gene King in the middle of the night recently, he had no idea they were trying to save his life. The unoccupied house at 301 Locust Ave.next door to King's house was on fire, South Pittsburg Public Safety Director Dale Winters said. Officials said the fire could have easily destroyed King's house too if emergency personnel had not acted so quickly to save it.
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SOUTH PITTSBURG, Tenn. -- When Robert and Rita Petty woke up their neighbor city Commissioner Gene King in the middle of the night, he didn't know they were trying to save his life.

The unoccupied house at 301 Locust Ave., next door to King's house, was "fully engulfed" in flames, South Pittsburg Public Safety Director Dale Winters said.

The recent fire could have destroyed King's house, too, officials said, if emergency personnel had not acted so quickly to save it.

"We set the ladder truck up in front of [King's] house to keep some water pressure on the house and keep the heat from doing any more damage," Winters said.

King said he wanted to thank everyone involved because they "did a good job."

South Pittsburg Mayor Mike Killian said he has had "great confidence" in South Pittsburg's fire department and, since Winters has been its chief, it's been "even better."

However, when city firefighters recently performed pressure tests on one of their hoses, they noticed water was spewing from more than one end.

"It's busted like crazy," Winters said. "It can't be repaired."

Last week, the South Pittsburg City Commission voted unanimously to send out bid requests for three sizes of fire hose. The hoses will cost an estimated $6,300, officials said.

Killian said fire hoses normally last about 10 years, so "in the future, [the city] needs to plan ahead" to buy new ones.

Winters said the last time the city bought a fire hose was in 2002.

"It looks like these hoses have lasted about as long as they are supposed to last," Killian said.

The hoses must be maintained to keep the Insurance Services Office ratings from falling, Winters said.

If the ISO were to evaluate the fire department now, he said, the organization would lower its rating based on the condition of the hoses after a 30-day grace period "to get things in order."

Meanwhile, King said he has heard jokes about the local fire department "saving the chimney," but now he knows firsthand the great work they do.

"I'm guilty of saying it myself," he said. "Well, they saved my house. I don't have a chimney anymore, but they saved the house. I really appreciate it."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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