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Don’t let fire problems go unanswered

Natchez and Adams County have hammered out a deal to work together on countywide fire protection.

The deal works well for the city’s fire department, which seemingly will get a slight break on the number of minor fires in the county that it must handle.

The deal keeps the county’s monetary contribution relatively flat over the previous year.

But the deal also adds some pressure to the county’s four volunteer fire departments.

The volunteers will be asked to pick up the slack and, presumably, roll to more fires. The challenge is more volunteers will be needed and each of those volunteers will need to be equipped with gear.

In the end, someone will need to come up with a way to help fund the volunteers.

County fire leaders say they’ll be working to obtain grant funding, but the county also needs to be ready to have an alternative if those grants are not realized.

One option to consider, if needed, is an additional fire fee added to the garbage bills of residents who live in unincorporated areas of the county.

Given that county residents should — with better fire coverage plans in place — receive better property insurance rates, the fire fee may still be a small price to pay.

Regardless of how the funding is ultimately found, we must help ensure that the community doesn’t throw additional responsibilities on the volunteer firefighters and expect them to do more without additional resources.