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Adams County gets fire grant

NATCHEZ — Even though Adams County is only in the preliminary stages of discussions about a countywide fire protection program, the county has secured some funding for that program, whatever it might be.

The county has received a $19,191 Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund grant, which is administered by the Mississippi Department of Hospitals to supplement money that counties spend on EMS services.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said the grant might be used when formulating a county fire plan to find ways for volunteer or other fire stations in the county to support the two local ambulance services.

That could mean giving firefighters automated external defibrillator training and having EMS-ready kits at the fire stations, Owens said.

“Basically, if there’s some kind of need for an ambulance, we would be able to put some medical help on the way as soon as possible,” he said.

County Administrator Joe Murray said the possibility of using the grant for extrication devices for rural fire stations has also been considered.

But for the moment, the money is being held in escrow.

“We are going to sit on the money and talk further about our county-wide fire plan to see how we can use this to assist in the county-wide fire department,” Owens said. “We can escrow it for as many as three years before we are required to do something with it.”

The funds for the grant came from a $5 assessment levied on every moving traffic citation issued in Mississippi. Owens said to receive the grant Adams County had to show that the county expended at least $0.15 per capita on EMS services, and was able to meet that demand by citing a salary supplement the county pays for radio dispatcher services in the amount of $80,244.

Owens, the county supervisors and other interested parties — including representatives from the insurance industry and the local water associations — are in the process of arranging meetings with the City of Natchez to plan a comprehensive county-wide fire plan.

Currently, the county government has an interlocal agreement with the Natchez Fire Department in which the NFD responds to fires in the county outside the city limits with support from volunteers at the rural fire stations.

Both Owens and the supervisors have expressed some support for the idea of more manned fire stations outside the city limits.