Naples, Fla., - Wink News wanted to know why firefighters less than a mile away from a house fire in East Naples were initially told not to respond. The fire started on Friday afternoon at a home on Poinsetta Avenue. It destroyed the home and everything inside, but no one was hurt. Naples Municipal Airport is less than a mile away. On site are two firefighters and state of the fire equipment.
"I was pretty disappointed when I saw our fire trucks sitting there not participating," said Ted Soliday, Naples Airport Executive Director. "They were basically watching the fire down the road."
Soliday tells WINK News he asked firefighters to help, but their Battalion Chief told them to stand down. Wink News wanted to find out why. City of Naples Fire Chief, Stephen McInerny said the answer is simple.
"They may be the closest units," said Chief McInerny. "But, they're not the appropriate units."
The Chief says state of the art fire trucks at the airport are designed specifically to fight aircraft fires with heavy fuel, not a house fire.
"It would be like sending a snow blower to a mud slide," said Chief McInerny. "Could you get away with it? Maybe" "Is it dangerous?" "Yeah, I'd say so."
Chief McInerny said the large fire unit at the airport has extremely poor visibility and it would be dangerous to take on public roads. He said it is the same piece of equipment that ran over and killed a teenaged girl on the runway after last year's Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco. The trucks also carry a chemical powder and foam, not the water that's needed to put out a house fire.
Soliday tells WINK News he now wants the board to choose another fire department or a private company to be stationed at the airport. Its contract with the city is up in January. Naples firefighters have been at the airport for more than 20 years.
"I'm personally very disappointed at the unprofessional comments maligning and attacking our firefighters who come to work every single day to serve the public and protect lives and property," said Chief McInerny.