Fire Department officials blow smoke at accusations

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News12 at six o'clock/ Feb. 25, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Augusta Fire Department is fighting back against accusations they weren't prepared for the recent ice storm.

We're told more than two dozen firefighters called in sick during one of the worst ice storms this area has seen.

Augusta's Fire Association says firefighters were stuck at home, three stations were closed due to low staffing and generators were not working.

"It's confusing to me when the Firefighters Union says we didn't provide support or assistance. We had 25 members call in sick on one shift and it put us in a situation," said Deputy Chief Sterling Jones.

Deputy Fire chief Sterling Jones says having two dozen firefighters call in sick during a disaster was the least of the departments worries. In five days, they answered more than 700 calls including this car fire.

"We were in the same situations some of them were in. We were out there trying to facilitate them and assisting," said Deputy Fire chief Sterling Jones.

The Augusta Fire Association says some crews went without food and water.

"It has to be brought to our attention so we can address it. There were no requests for food and the whole city was without electricity," Jones said.

"They were here back then when we dealt with the ice storm before. They knew what they were going to face," Chief Taylor said.

One thing both sides agree on is the propane gas tank at fire station should've been full before the storm hit.

Three stations were closed during the storm. The crew on Broad was sent to Reynolds because of no propane. The units on Old Louisville and McBean Road were relocated because the generators in use eventually ran out of gas.

"We had to provide service during that time we had no disruption of service. Everything went along and the citizens needs were addressed," Jones said.

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