GRAND COTEAU, La. (KLFY) – A Grand Coteau family is devastated after losing their home to a fire. They’re now calling on city leaders to hire more paid firefighters in the wake of their tragedy.
For almost 75 years, five generations of the Garrick family have lived in the home, and in less than half an hour, they say their house was completely destroyed.
“It’s devastating because we have to stay with my daughter, and I’m a man. I believe a man should take care of his family. The way I feel right now, I feel I let them down because of the fire,” Nelson Garrick told News 10.
Garrick lived in the home with his spouse, their children, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
He said that it took 30 minutes for firefighters to arrive, and by the time firefighters started hosing the home, the entire house was engulfed in flames.
“I believe if we had more firefighters, it’d be a safer town. Right now, I advise everybody, y’all better have a water hose to help y’all because if y’all are waiting on the firemen, y’all are going to be waiting too long,” Garrick added.
Grand Coteau Fire Chief Riley Grisham told News 10 that they do need more firefighters, but he’s seeing a decline in the number of people who want to volunteer.
The chief added that the firefighters who responded to the Garrick family home the night of the fire were all volunteers. Volunteer firefighters from Sunset and Arnaudville also assisted.
Garrick said that it wasn’t enough to save his home.
“I’m speaking for me and everybody in Grand Coteau because it could happen to anybody. Anybody in Grand Coteau could have had the same experience I had, and it’s not good,” Garrick said.
Garrick believes if Grand Coteau had their own paid firefighters, ready-to-go at the fire station at the time of the fire, his home could have been saved.
The fire chief said that not all firefighters are volunteers. They do have paid part-time firefighters, though they only work during the day Monday through Friday. Garrick questions why the city doesn’t pay firefighters for night shifts.
“If we don’t have any firefighters at night, who’s going to save Grand Coteau? And we’re paying because our taxes all went up,” he said. “If we can pay them 9-5, we can pay them at night because it’s all our tax money.”
He says he’s thankful his family is okay but fears what could happen in the future.
“With the help of the Lord, we’re all right, but they need a full staff of firemen,” he added.
The Garrick family is also asking for the public’s help getting back on their feet. You can donate to their family on their GoFundMe here.
If you’d like to apply to be a volunteer firefighter in Grand Coteau, you can find out how on their website.