Leaders need to find fix for fire matters

Published 12:05 am Sunday, December 21, 2014

Basic public safety matters should not be left to the whims of a few politicians.

For years, however, fire protection in Adams County has become just that — a political football.

Just like the former economic development authority, whose funding was an almost annual battle between city and county governments, the same thing happens on fire protection.

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The issue is relatively simple.

For decades Natchez Fire Department crews have responded to fires outside the incorporated areas of the city and into rural Adams County.

In exchange for that 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week protection, the county pays the city a fee.

Like most problems in life the money is at the root of the problem.

In this case, Adams County thinks it pays too much for the service it receives from the city. The city thinks the county doesn’t pay enough.

Thus begins the annual dance between the two.

For years the county has simply negotiated a flat fee to pay the city for the fire protection agreement.

The city argues that isn’t enough and points to the ever-growing industries at the Natchez-Adams Port as proof why professionally trained firefighters with excellent equipment should be in service.

Does anyone really want to think about what will happen when an industrial manufacturer has a fire involving toxic, highly flammable chemicals?

The answer is never good enough in the best of circumstances. It could be nightmarish if ill-equipped and improperly trained crews are made to respond.

We urge city and county leaders to work out a plan to fix this matter once and for all. Perhaps the solution is in the county allocating some millage to the matter so as the number of industrial and other commercial developments rise so will the funds going to fire protection.