Fire department theft a 'slap in the face' according to officials

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CAWOOD, Ky. (WYMT) - It is a theft that is being called a slap in the face to first responders.

Officials in Harlan County are looking for answers after thieves broke into the new fire department being built in the Cawood community.

They first discovered the theft Monday. They say thieves stole a battery from a lift, syphoned diesel from the lift, and stole the station's $900 large metal door.

Officials estimate the stolen items are valued at about $1,200.

"My first reaction was, of all things to steal, a door? It'll just slow the project down", said Steven Hatfield, Fire Chief of the Sunshine Volunteer Fire Department. "We've been trying to hurry and get things moving along and get in the building. It's just going to be another delay."

County Officials say this new department will make sure people in the eastern part of the county will stay safe during emergencies.

"The fire department's response time will improve by 15 to 30 minutes, in some cases, that serve this particular end of the county", said Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley.

Mosley says firefighter do so much more than fight fires. He says this theft pushes back the department's abilities to help the community.

"They helped sandbag in locations that we had the flash flooding occur", said Mosley. "I mean they are constantly available when we need them to be able to help our communities. And whoever did this just slapped those people in the face."

Mosley hopes the person or people responsible for the theft seek help.

"If it's somebody that did this because they have a drug problem and they're trying to support their habit by stealing something like this and pawning it or scrapping it, to be able to continue to support their habit, they can come see me", said Mosley. "I'll help them get into a treatment program to help turn their life around."

The fire chief who will help the new department become operational posted what was stolen online. He says he already has an idea of where the items could be.

"We've had quite a few shares, several comments", said Hatfield. "We had received a tip of possibly where it was located."

Mosley says the new fire department could still open sometime next month. He says it will also help lower insurance rates for people who live within five miles of the new department.

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