DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines firefighters battled back to back fires in the city this morning. Both calls came in about 30 minutes apart.
A 13-year-old boy got his family out of their burning home just after 7 AM.
“My son, I mean if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would actually be here,” says Shawna Frakes.
The mother of three woke to find her mobile home in the 1400 block of East Virginia Avenue full of smoke. The family didn’t have working smoke detectors so Frakes’ son was their only warning. The three boys and their mother managed to escape to safety, but flames destroyed the trailer.
Before Des Moines firefighters could put out the fire, they were called to 1800 Keo Way. Crews arrived to find flames shooting out of the roof of the building. The old business is now used as storage and four cars inside are a total loss.
“We heard the first structure go out and then we heard the second structure go out and you know already, there’s no if and or buts about it, they’re going to be thin on a second structure fire,” says Joe Van Haalen, president of the local firefighter’s union.
The 10-year veteran of the department says today’s two fires show how under staffed the city is. And if there was ever a third fire, there would be longer response times.
“The majority of it is our concern for the citizens of Des Moines. They’re being left without coverage,” says Van Haalen.
Des Moines has about 280 firefighters. Van Haalen believes the city needs at least 300.
Fire Chief John TeKippe says seven new recruits are at the Training Academy and the city is in the process of hiring more firefighters for next year.