Fire victims laid to rest Sunday

Family, friends and those who didn't even know Bailey and Savannah Daniels came together to remember and celebrate their lives Sunday afternoon.

Visitation services were held at the Slater Millard Funeral Chapel in Holts Summit.

Afterwards, hundreds filled the Union Hill Baptist Church for the funeral services.

The family asked the congregation to remember Bailey and Savannah as they were, typical little girls who loved the TV shows Hannah Montana and Spongebob Squarepants.

It was only fitting then that the family processed into church to the theme song from the cartoon.

The girls aunt spoke, remembering the girls as inseparable, sassy and stubborn. They loved to play with the family dog Zo<<, who also died in the fire trying to protect the girls.

The aunt says while the family is angry and confused, they'll continue to trust that God will get them through this incredibly tough time.

A new fire house for Holts Summit?

The response to Thursday's fatal fire in Holts Summit has prompted some people to suggest a need for a round-the-clock, paid fire service.

The fire chief says that's a discussion for taxpayers and the fire district board. Meantime, he is poised to begin a full-time presense with his part-time volunteer force.

The fire broke out after most of the 30 Holts Summit volunteer firefighters had already gone to work - many of them in Jefferson City. Even with the fastest of responses, that meant about 10 minutes getting to the scene.

Some local residents have questioned whether a fire service with full-time firefighters already at the fire station would have made a difference in saving the lives of Bailey and Savannah Daniels.

"I'm going to say this: Even if we were in station, fully-manned - in other words if I had 12 people there," said Holts Summit Fire Chief Scott Brooks. "If it would have made a difference or not, I just don't think it would've. I hate to say that, but I don't think it would've. That fire moved so rapidly."

Even so, some Holts Summit residents have suggest it is time to go to a full-time service.

The volunteer service operates on an annual budget of about $320,000, financed by property taxes. Brooks said a paid staff of the same size of his volunteer company would add another $1 million in salaries and benefits.

"Right now, the property tax assessment is right at 25 cents," Brooks said. "To do a million - take our current operating expense and add a million to it - you're going to have to go to around $1.25."

A $3 million bond issue approved by voters in 2007 is financing some improvements. Construction is now underway on a dormitory at fire station number one. Beginning this summer, it will provide on site, free lodging for half a dozen volunteer firefighters.

"You come home from work or school to that fire house," Brooks said. "Part of your contractual agreement to live at the fire station will be to provide 40 to 50 hours of daytime coverage per month, along with your nighttime duty roster so that we know someone is there every night." "As best as possible, we will attempt to cover every day with at least one person being in the station," Brooks said. "Maybe as many as two or more."

Brooks said the dorm should be ready by June. Holts Summit Mayor James Washington said the city council will address the Daniels' fire during a special meeting Monday night. He says the discussion will focus on fire codes, such as whether to require smoke detectors in rental properties.