City considers allowing fire department to help neighboring counties in emergencies

Published 2:26 am Saturday, June 17, 2017


NATCHEZ — City of Natchez officials are attempting to establish legislation that would allow the Natchez Fire Department to enter neighboring counties during life-threatening emergencies.

Aldermen approved a motion Tuesday allowing City Attorney Bob Latham to draft proposed legislation..

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“Bob (Latham) is looking into drawing up something that would allow the Natchez Fire Department to help in the contiguous areas outside of Adams County in terms of extrication,” Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said.

Currently, Natchez firemen cannot enter a neighboring county without receiving special authorization.

“It’s always been that we have to get approval from the mayor,” Natchez Fire Department Chief Aaron Wesley said.

The request follows a life-threatening accident in Franklin County last week involving a car that had flipped over. The driver was trapped, and the NFD was the only department in the area that carried extrication equipment.

In this instance, the department was able to quickly reach Grennell, who granted authorization. While Grennell had never encountered such a predicament during his tenure as mayor, he said it was an easy decision to make.

“I said, ‘Go save those people’s lives.’” Grennell said. “And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

“Go ahead and report me to the Attorney General’s office, or report me to the auditor. But when (Wesley) said something about saving somebody’s life, my heart said, ‘Go save that life.’”

“I appreciate the quick response of our mayor to make a quick decision in a life-threatening position,” Wesley said.

While the mayor was able to respond quickly on this occasion, Wesley thinks an arrangement is needed that would permit the department respond to life-threatening emergencies in neighboring counties even if the mayor cannot be reached.

Wesley also recognized, however, the need to implement necessary restrictions.

“We don’t want to put ourselves in a bad position that we are 15 miles into somebody else’s county and not have the Jaws of Life in our own county,” Wesley said.

Grennell said the city currently owns two sets of extrication equipment and is attempting to get a third, more modern set.

Grennell did not have a specific estimate of when Latham would have a proposal ready, but he said it would likely not be ready by the next board of aldermen meeting on June 28.