The fire that destroyed Father's House Church in Norton Wednesday night happened when Norton's fire department was unstaffed due to budget cuts.
The department has no firefighters on duty between 10 PM and 6 AM.
Norton mayor Mike Zita says that means a call went out, pulling firefighters who live in Norton from their homes to go on emergency duty.
"When the 'all call' came in, that's when (they) responded," Zita tells AkronNewsNow.com, "the couple of individuals, the firefighters that live in town, came to the fire station in order to gather equipment."
Zita says that means response time could have doubled from what it would have taken if the fire department was staffed and ready to go.
"Normally response time is within the 3 to 5 minute time period or whatever," Zita says. "It was 10 minutes from the time that the call came in, approximately 10 minutes from when the call came in, until the time we had individuals en route."
The Norton mayor says they're fortunate no one was inside the church. He says slower response could have made the situation even worse, if a house were involved.
"Should it have been a residential structure," Zita says, "I would just cringe on the outcome of whether or not there would be people involved inside and so forth that we would have had to deal with."
Norton will try again in November to pass a 4-point-6 mill fire and EMS levy that would provide money for 24 hour staffing...a levy that's failed twice already.
If it passes this November, Mayor Zita says it'll would also allow the city to provide EMS staffing full-time, noting that Norton now dispatches private ambulances in the overnight hours. That's something he says still costs the city money.