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Hartselle firefighters to provide protection at haunted house

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — A decision that apparently spooked Hartselle firefighters is being called a case of miscommunication.

At the heart of the scary situation was whether the Hartselle Fire Department should provide a truck and water line to comply with a fire marshal requirement for a haunted house in the basement of the old F.E. Burleson School.

Or should the Oak Ridge Volunteer Fire Department provide the protection in Hartselle's jurisdiction?

The Hartselle Police Alliance, an auxiliary of the Police Department, had planned to pay Oak Ridge $100 for the coverage.

That changed Tuesday after a meeting between Fire Chief Steve Shelton and Police Chief Ron Puckett.

"We're doing what we can to make sure this is corrected and Hartselle firefighters will provide the protection," Puckett said.

Puckett said the auxiliary organization, which consists solely of Hartselle police officers, was not trying to do anything to hurt the firefighters.

"The biggest part of this is lack of communication and people making assumptions," he said. "It was no one's intent to say we didn't want the Hartselle Fire Department."

Shelton said some of his firefighters were upset when they learned about the situation Friday.

"Some of the guys are still a little upset because they don't know what took place but we have resolved it and are making out a schedule," he said.

Shelton said off-duty firefighters will provide the protection and sponsors of the event will pay them.

Fire marshal inspection

The issue of a firetruck at the haunted house started following a state fire marshal's inspection of the basement.

Because the basement of the more-than-90-year-old school doesn't have a sprinkler system, the fire marshal said he would allow the haunted house to proceed if there was a firetruck on the scene with a line on the ground, Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

"A lot of people had put a lot of work into the haunted house, and we didn't want to cancel the event," the mayor said.

Puckett said some members of the alliance assumed city firefighters would not be able to provide the coverage.

This is when Oak Ridge was asked to enter Hartselle's jurisdiction, he said.

"Once we realized this was an issue, we sat back in our chair, looked at it and resolved the situation," Puckett said. "We hope no one is hurt because this is a fundraiser to help a lot of organizations."

The haunted house will be open Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 and 31, from 7 p.m. until midnight.

Tankersley said proceeds from the event benefit the F.E. Burleson restoration project and several organizations at Hartselle High.

The cost is $10 per person and $8 for children 12 and under. Groups of more than 20 will be allowed to enter for $8 per person.

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