Town officials filed a lawsuit in January, but the preliminary injunction hearing underway will determine who gets the equipment for the time being.
WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) – The fight between the Town of Lake
Waccamaw and Lake Waccamaw Fire & Rescue Auxiliary moved to a courtroom
Who gets what
The two sides are arguing over who gets to keep vehicles and gear
after a rift that culminated when the town terminated the longtime
Town officials filed a lawsuit in January, but the preliminary
injunction hearing underway will determine who gets the equipment for the time
The auxiliary argues the equipment belongs to them because they
raised money to purchase it. Norwood Blanchard, an attorney representing
the town, compared the Auxiliary to a booster club that raises money for a
high school sports team.
"If it were a high school football team and the coach
changes, you don't get to take the footballs and the helmets and shoulder pads
and leave," Blanchard said. "Once you give them to the high school
football team, or in this case the town's fire department, those items belong
to the fire department."
Argument affecting safety
The auxiliary currently has some ambulances it is using to provide
EMS service in the Town of Lake Waccamaw and surrounding areas.
Auxiliary member Shannon Worrell testified that the relationship
between the town and the auxiliary has gotten so bad that the town is sending
police officers to rescue calls when they're not needed.
Worrell said during a call Thursday morning, a patrol car blocking a
driveway hindered the response from EMS crews.
"To be able to get equipment in through the yard, we had to
have them come out of the house to move the police car so that we could get in
to the patient," Worrell said. "A very minimal delay, but whenever
seconds count, every second counts."
Lake Waccamaw doesn't have an operational fire department, but
volunteer departments from surrounding areas are serving the lake through
mutual aid agreements.
The town is working to re-certify its fire department and has
recruited 34 volunteers, according to Town Manager Darren Currie.
A lawyer representing the auxiliary is expected to call more
witnesses to the stand when the hearing resumes Friday morning.