NEVADA COUNTY —
In rural south Nevada county resources are limited.
Until now, the closest fire station was several miles away from the western portion of the Higgins fire district making residents in the around 900 homes in the west more than happy to see today’s reopening of the Mccourtney fire station.
“It was scary because if we had a fire. With it open in the past we knew they quickly would be here because they are only two minutes away,” said resident Lisa Castillo.
Two years ago, budget cuts forced the Higgins fire district to lay off 6 firefighters and essentially close the McCourtney station.
That meant crews in the districts two other stations were left to fill in the gap.
“If this station is not staffed from here to get out to here is 25 minutes. So it is a significant time issue when we’re dealing with anyone having medical aid, tractors turn over, someone falls off a horse,” said Battalion Chief Jerry Good.
The closing forced response times for firefighters to more than double.
What would take five-six minutes turned to 10-15 minutes.
“Well that is hyper critical if you are dealing with someone having a heart attack. Brain death can occur in 10 minutes,” said Good.
Thanks to a grant from FEMA for $966,000, McCourtney station is now fully staffed, but those funds will only last two years.
“The grant is only a band aid,” said Good.
As this years drought has left grass drier than usual, firefighters and residents are even more aware of the dangers if the McCourtney station were to close again.
The district is looking into longer term revenue possibilities.