Firefighter crew living, working out of motel



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. -    A crew of six firefighters in Lake County hasn't had a place to call home in five years.
    The firefighters have been living and working out of two rooms at an extended-stay hotel, dealing with crime, vandalism and lack of space on a regular basis. Their truck, Engine 90, sits in the motel parking lot when it's not being used to fight fires.
    "Staying out of a little hotel, I've been here a year myself and it's a great place, but it's not a place for a fire department," hotel neighbor Harley Foster said.
    Foster has lived across the hall from the firefighters for a year, but the firefighters have been stationed at the motel for five years.
    "I don't think that it's right. They should have their own place. They need to have their own place; they're the fire department. People rely on them," Foster said.
    The motel stay, which was supposed to be a temporary situation, has turned into a permanent residence for the crew.
    The firefighters, who did not want to be identified, complained about the crime in the area. They said there have been car break-ins, vandalism and, on one occasion, a firefighter came outside to find his car sitting on blocks with his tires missing.
    "Do I like to go around and say we have 22 fire stations and one crew in a hotel? No,” said Assistant Fire Chief Jack Fillman in 2011.
    The light at the end of the tunnel may come from the sheriff's office in the form of a substation about a quarter mile away. The sheriff offered up some land to help the fire rescue department.
    The county commission will vote whether or not to move forward with the plan on Tuesday.