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Firefighters to train volunteers

NATCHEZ — As they seek to reduce the number of calls the Natchez Fire Department responds to outside the city limits, Adams County firefighting officials are arranging educational and training classes for volunteer or aspiring volunteer firefighters.

City and county officials crafted a fire response plan earlier this year that would still have the Natchez Fire Department respond to calls outside the city limits. However, the plan also calls for a 25-percent decrease in total annual, non-medical calls the NFD responds to in the unincorporated areas of Adams County.

In order for that plan to work, the county will have to rely more heavily on volunteer firefighters.

Darryl Smith — who started the newly created position of assistant fire coordinator June 17 — said the fire coordinator’s office is working to set up training for the county’s residential firefighting force.

“We are setting up classes for the volunteers so they can get used to using the personal protective equipment, and we are working on some strategies as far as (coordinating) firefighting for brush fires or any other call we might be responding to,” he said.

Separate from that training will be what Smith called a county firefighting school in September and October, a 12-hour class that will meet three nights a week and will be open to the public.

“Anyone who wants to be a volunteer firefighter, they can come to learn, because we are going to need the whole community to help out,” Smith said. “It is not just about a few folks, it is about the whole county.”

Especially important in the coming months will be finding volunteers who can respond during the daylight hours, when many who may be willing to be a volunteer firefighter cannot necessarily respond, Smith said.

“The way some of the guys work, they have day jobs, we are going to need volunteers who may work a night shift who can help out during the day time,” he said.

The assistant fire coordinator said he has also met with two of the volunteer fire chiefs to discuss future plans, and is trying to coordinate with the others for future meetings.

The county’s volunteer firefighters will also participate in emergency training later this month when Adams County’s Emergency Management Agency has its Grand Gulf Nuclear Station out-of-sequence training exercise, Smith said.