ADAIR, Iowa- Whenever there is severe weather around Adair the county dispatches local fire departments out to watch the skies.
Scott Harkins runs an auto repair shop right next door to the fire station. He has been a volunteer firefighter in Adair for 50 years. He’s had the call to go on storm spotter duty on numerous occasions.
“The county will page us for severe weather, tornado weather,” said Harkins. “We’ll kind of get a crew together and go out through the country find a spot somewhere to watch for severe weather.”
The crews usually are out for an hour or so. Sometimes, there’s not much to see. Other times a severe storm, or tornado may be seen.
“It gets your heart a pumping,” said Harkins about spotting a tornado.
The first thing the crew does is call the sighting in to the county dispatch to be relayed to everyone. The next task is to make sure they’re not in the way of an approaching storm.
Like many small-town fire departments, there is a challenge having enough people for any call. Spring season is difficult as some farmers are in the field planting. On Tuesday the Adair Fire Department was called out to a truck fire on Interstate 80.
“Basically I was the only one that showed up,” said Harkins. “Had to call help from over Stuart and Anita had to come help, we didn’t have anybody here so I went out and kind of kept the grass fire under control.”
“Having enough spotters for storms can be an issue,” said Robert Kemp, the Adair and Guthrie Counties Emergency Manager. “It’s a challenge for small fire departments.”
Kemp said that Adair would have storm spotters out tonight. Getting volunteers in the evening hours is a little easier than during the day when people are working.