City hoping for new aerial ladder fire truck through grant

Published 12:58 am Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NATCHEZ — Natchez Fire Department officials hope to receive a federal grant for a new aerial ladder truck to replace the department’s current, outdated vehicle.

Natchez Community Development Director James Johnston received approval Friday from the Natchez Board of Aldermen to once again apply for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program to fund the new truck, estimated to cost just less than $1 million.

The aldermen had various options for the amount of matching funds they would be willing to contribute, though Johnston suggested that a higher percentage would lead to a higher likelihood of attaining the funding.

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Johnston therefore suggested the city cover 15 percent of the cost, which would total approximately $133,000. The city, he added, already has approximately $150,000 set aside in the budget’s special fire fund to cover those expenses should the city receive the grant.

The department’s current fire truck — which Johnston described as “non-compliant” — is more than 25 years old.

The aldermen approved the application for an 85-percent grant, 15-percent city match unanimously, though Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was absent.

The necessity of a new aerial ladder truck comes not only from a safety standpoint, but also from the potential impact on the city’s fire ratings, regulated by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau. These ratings in turn affect the amount property owners pay in insurance premiums, with better ratings meaning lower premiums.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell has identified attaining a new ladder truck as one of his main goals for 2018.

The new truck would have a 500-gallon tank with the ability to pump approximately 1,500 GPM (gallons per minute) of water, seat six firefighters and include a 107-foot heavy-duty ascending ladder and a 99-foot ground ladder.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will handle the application.