NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When flames broke out at the Arbors of Brentwood Apartment Homes, residents knew time was of the essence.  

Resident Ian Church said he grew frustrated when he called 911 and wasn’t able to get through to a real person. That’s when he decided to take matters into his own hands.  

“I wasn’t getting in contact with any personnel from dispatch and I tried calling six more times for about six minutes and then no one was even answering the whole time. I don’t know if it was the influx of calls or what. But I decided like I said to drive up to the nearest fire station, which is two minutes up the road,” Church said.  

Nashville dispatch received 27 911 calls between 3:51 a.m. and 4 a.m., meaning some callers were put on an automated line until dispatchers could answer.  

The Nashville Fire Department said crews from stations 6 and 10 were sent to the scene but were delayed by two minutes due to a failure in their Locution notification system. As a result, the Emergency Communications Center had to call fire stations directly to dispatch them. Even so, NFD said crews were able to get on the scene within 10 minutes of the initial 911 call.  

Residents said time seemingly stood still.  

“It’s not the firefighters’ fault that this fire got started but it is their job to act in an efficient manner. And like I said, one of our tenants took it upon themselves to go down there and try to get help as soon as possible because no one was answering our calls,” displaced resident Taylor Lillybridge said.  

Hours before the Arbors of Brentwood Apartment Homes fire, crews had responded to another south Nashville apartment fire that displaced 21 units. 

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Even with the busy night, the fire department tells News 2 that crews were able to contain the fire to one building at the Arbors of Brentwood and there were no civilian injuries.  

“I lost my home six-seven months ago to a tornado in Bowling Green and moved down to Nashville, got this apartment, and this was my fresh start. So the whole time I’m watching this building slowly become more and more consumed with flames and it’s all just sinking in, like, oh my God, like this is happening again,” Lillybridge said. 

Once crews arrived on the scene, attacking the fire was more involved than just turning on a hose. It took firefighters several minutes to set up a sustainable water supply and start working.