County considers updating fire gear

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, July 17, 2018

NATCHEZ — Adams County’s volunteer firefighters need upgraded equipment, county fire coordinator Darryl Smith told supervisors during a Monday meeting.

Firefighters in the Liberty Road, Kingston, Lake Montrose and Foster Mound fire departments, specifically, need upgraded breathing apparatuses, Smith said.

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“We have to update these airpacks,” Smith said. “With all the trucks we have in service, we need to have at least 18 new ones (breathing apparatuses).

Smith said county volunteers would like to be comparable to the Natchez Fire Department.

“That’s the main reason why we are trying to do this,” Smith told supervisors. “We are very comparable to one another in terms of cost. We just want to be on the same page as them.”

Smith said a single breathing apparatus costs a little more than $5,600 to upgrade. Altogether, Smith estimates updating all the breathing apparatuses will cost $86,000 to $92,000.

“If the board can help us with that, that would be great,” Smith said. “We have applied for grants, but those aren’t a guarantee. We have gotten grants before. The airpacks are something we have been working. We applied for a grant to get new ones last year, but were turned down.”

Smith said the volunteer fire department has applied this year for an assistance to firefighters Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If awarded, the grant would provide the volunteer fire department with 12 new air tanks used when entering burning structures as well as thermal imaging cameras, which can help firefighters detect hidden hot spots and even people inside a building before firemen enter.

The grant would provide financial assistance to eligible fire departments, emergency medical services and fire training academies throughout the nation, he said.

“We can’t go in and fight fires without this equipment,” Smith said.

Supervisors said they would need more time to consider how much they can help with the project.

“Stuff like this needs to be accounted for in next year’s budget,” said District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus. “We need a whole meeting dedicated to this issue. We need to sit down and talk about this.”

Smith said he is confident the board will help out the volunteer fire departments.

“The board has been very helpful when it comes to helping out the volunteer fire departments,” Smith said. “It’s getting closer to that time when we need to do it before it’s too late.”

In other matters at Monday’s supervisors meeting, the board:

* Heard a request from Quiana Head of Jackson in which she asked for help to establish a Young Lives-Teen Moms program in Natchez. The program, she said, empowers teen moms to make positive choices, set and achieve goals, and live a future rooted in Christ. Head said the program has already connected with a group of mentors at Zion Chapel AME Church that meets once a month. District 5 supervisor Calvin Butler told Head the board would consider her request but asked her to seek assistance from the Natchez Board of Aldermen.

* Unanimously agreed to allow AT&T to add improved mobilty equipment to a tower at 33 McNeil Road. The placement of the new equipment will improve AT&T’s 4G service along Mississippi 98-84 corridor.

* Unanimously agreed to submit an application for state aid to help with county  bridge inspections. The application deadline is Aug. 5.