Delisle Fire Response Time Impacted By Hurricane

The alarm sounded in a trailer being used by the Delisle Volunteer Fire Department. "Engine 15 is going to be 10-8," firefighter Charlene Holliman told her dispatcher. Holliman steered her fire truck off a slab and toward an accident scene.

Holliman is Delisle's only full time firefighter.

"That's right. I'm the only paid person at the station," she said.

On weekdays between 8:00 and 4:00, Holliman and her truck protect the Delisle community. It's after 4:00 and on weekends, when Holliman is at home, and the truck is parked elsewhere that response time becomes a major concern.

George Mixon is Harrison County's Fire Services coordinator.

"It's been bad," Mixon said with a sigh.

He's had more than a few sleepless nights since fire response times increased in the Delisle area.

"I'm always worrying about what's going to happen," he said.

The response problem in Delisle started as soon as Katrina pummeled the community's fire station. Two feet of water splashed through the truck bays. The roof caved in.

"To have this building fall down and collapse on two of the trucks, just unbelievable," Mixon said.

Since then, Delisle has had no where to shelter its trucks. But Harrison County still had to provide fire protection to the area. The temporary solution puts extra miles on the fire equipment, and more stress on firefighter Holliman.

"I pick up the truck and bring it to Delisle," she described. "I sit there until 4:00 and then I bring the truck back to another station."

That station is the west Harrison station on Firetower Road, six miles north of Delisle.

"It bothers me. Right now, there are no trucks in Delisle when I'm not there," Holliman said.

Because of the weather, Harrison County had no choice but to come up with that solution.

"We have nothing to put our trucks in. No way to secure it," she said.

So far, Delisle has been lucky. The fire calls haven't been too serious.

"God has been with us," Mixon said. "We've had some small problems. Nothing we couldn't overcome. But if we had the big one, we'd be in bad shape."

Because after sunset, the Delisle fire truck is parked in a garage six miles north of the community.

Harrison County has FEMA's okay to rebuild the Delisle station. A permanent home for the area's fire equipment won't be ready until late this year.

The hurricane also washed away Harrison County's Henderson Point fire station.