Bell County, Kentucky residents are worried about their fire protection service since the county's volunteer fire department has closed 4 of its 8 stations.
At a board meeting this week, the Bell County Volunteer Fire Department voted to close two more stations: the Brownies Creek and Clear Creek stations immediately.
They voted to close the Calloway station in 30 days. The closings come on top of two other stations they closed in December of last year.
Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock calls the closures "suspicious." Brock, who holds the top office in the county, requested that a federal judge issue a temporary restraining order to stop all actions the volunteer fire department voted on at their board meeting. That includes closing the stations, selling fire trucks, and donating one fire truck to a local charity.
"It angers me at one level when the excuse is that we don't have funding, but we're willing to reimburse them for all appropriate costs," said Brock.
Brock cut the department's funding off in December when they decided to close the first two stations. He believes they should have around $100,000 on hand to pay for current costs.
But this fight has been a long time coming.
"When I took office in 2007, the BCVFD had approximately $600,000 in cash on hand, they were projected to receive another $550,000 in 2007-2008," said Brock who oversees the finances for the county. He believed that was too much and trimmed funding back to around $150,000 a year five years ago.
Now with five fire stations soon to be closed, we went to the department's headquarters to allow them to respond.
The Assistant Chief, Mike Wilder, would not talk with us on camera and referred us to their lawyer, Mark Hayden, from a firm out of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Hayden says they have in fact applied for reimbursement funding and were denied. He also said they will be able to provide adequate service with the three remaining stations.
Judge Brock also said that the department is attempting to donate one of their fire trucks to a local non-profit, Hopes and Dreams Outfitters.
"It has come to our knowledge that the same members, officers, the chief [of BCVFD] formed another non profit hunting club, Hopes and Dreams Outfitters, Inc. They transferred the truck to the hunting club," Brock said.
According to the non-profit's website, Che if Rodney Wilder and Assistant Chief Mike Wilder are members. The judge doesn't believe the department should donate taxpayer funded equipment. Hayden had no knowledge of the donated fire truck.
When we called Hopes and Dreams Outfitters, the person who answered the phone said they too were unaware and referred us to Mr. Wilder.
Now it's up to the federal courts to decide.
"We have to wait for the legal system... to right this wrong," said Brock.
But residents who say they don't know much about the politics of it, just want their fire stations back.
"We live just 10 yards right beside the fire department," said Patti Howell, a Clear Creek resident.
Howell has found security and comfort knowing a volunteer fire station was right next door. But she says that went away when the station shut down on Tuesday.
"I hope we never have to face a tragedy, but surely if we do, it would take longer to get help and so that is a concern," she said.
We tried several times to reach the Department's Chief Rodney Wilder for comment. He has not returned our calls.