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Firefighters refuse to help Southern Missouri man douse blaze

February 27, 2006
By: Tim Walker
State Capital Bureau

A Southern Missouri man was left to put out a fire himself after the fire department refused to help.

Tim Walker has more from Jefferson City.

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The Monett Rural Fire Department watched as Bivaldo Rueda tried to put out a fire in his garage.

The fire department refused to help Rueda because he was not a paying member of the rural fire department.

Representative David Sater who represents Monett says he hopes the department changes its policy.

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"Logically I think that most people would agree now that they probably should have gone ahead and put out the fire. To me it was irresponsible for them not to do so."

Sater says Monett is the only department he knows that won't assist nonmembers.

From the state Capitol, I'm Tim Walker

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Firefighters refused to help a Southern Missouri man put a fire out in his garage.

Tim Walker has more from Jefferson City.

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Bivaldo Rueda says he did not know he needed to pay dues for service from the Monett Rural Fire Department because he can't speak English.

Rueda says firefighters stood by and watched as he attempted to put out the fire.

Monett Representative David Sater says Rueda is a US citizen and should speak English.

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"We can't put all the blame on the Monett fire department nor can we put all the blame on the person involved; so it's a combination of blame."

The fire caused approximately $30,000 dollars in damage to the home.

From the state Capitol, I'm Tim Walker.

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Fire fighters in one Missouri town may not respond if residents don't pay up.

Tim Walker has more from Jefferson City.

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Residents of Monett in Southern Missouri pay a yearly fee for fire protection.

So fire fighters refused to put out a blaze at the home of Bivaldo Rueda because he didn't pay his dues.

Southern Missouri Representative David Sater says the fire fighters were irresponsible.

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"Hopefully they will change their mind and always look to try to help people before they refuse."

Sater says he doesn't think legislation is necessary at this time.

From the state, Capitol, I'm Tim Walker.