County waiting on grant to purchase fire truck

Published 12:12am Thursday, May 1, 2014

NATCHEZ — Adams County is waiting to hear from federal funding sources before purchasing a fire truck as part of its cooperative fire agreement with the City of Natchez.

When the county supervisors renewed the agreement they have had with the city for fire protection outside the city limits, one of the provisions included was that the county would provide a new fire truck for the Natchez Fire Department to use in responding to fires.

Another key provision in the agreement was that the county would work to reduce the number of calls the NFD responds to outside the city limits by building up the county’s volunteer fire fighter base to handle smaller fires.

The county has worked to recruit new volunteers, but has not purchased the fire truck. During the Natchez Board of Aldermen’s mid-April meeting, the aldermen expressed concerns the truck had not yet been provided.

Adams County Supervisor David Carter — who has acted as the county’s liaison to the city on fire coverage matters — said Wednesday the county has applied for a grant to purchase the truck and is waiting to hear if the grant will be awarded before considering other means of funding the truck.

“Fire trucks are not cheap, so that is why we are trying to go through this avenue of getting grants,” Carter said. “The truck will help the city and the county out, and our goal as supervisors is obviously the protection of city residents as well as county residents.”

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said the Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant the county applied for through the Federal Emergency Management Agency is for $450,000 and requires a 5-percent match, which would require  $22,500 in county funds.

The AFG grant applications go through a technical process to ensure all of the proper documentation is provided before being submitted to a peer review panel of fire fighters and other professionals, Owens said.

“I feel confident on this grant application because we used a combination of total runs between the city and the county,” Owens said. “I sat on the peer review panel a few times, and that is one of the things a peer reviewer will look at, total call volume.”

The peer review process has been completed, Owens said, and the agency started announcing awards a week ago.

“They start awarding the grants based on the high scores (of the applications) and work down through their scoring system until they run out of funding,” Owens said.

As soon as the grant is awarded, the county will be able to move forward with ordering the truck, he said.

During the April alderman’s meeting, Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis expressed concern that the county had not budgeted the cost of the truck for the fiscal year and was depending on the grant for the funding.

Owens said the county was looking for the grant first, but if it does not come through, the county will look at other ways of funding the truck to meet its obligation.

The city and county have had a cooperative agreement for fire coverage since 1994. The county pays the city $626,000 annually as part of the agreement.