Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, MS)
Federal grants pour in to county fire departments
By Catherine Kirk
The towns of Metcalfe and Arcola will soon get some much-needed upgrades at their fire departments thanks to new federal grants.
U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., last week announced the award of $3,175,628 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants that will be allocated to fire departments in Metcalfe, Arcola, Byram, Greenwood, Grenada, Jackson, Yazoo City, Pelahatchie, Walnut, Booneville, Pope, Morton and Natchez.
The grants are being awarded as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.
Hyde-Smith in a press release noted the importance of staying prepared for emergency situations.
"Public safety and emergency preparedness is essential. These grant awards will not only help equip and train firefighters, they will also promote fire prevention and safety in these communities," she said.
Echoing Hyde-Smith's remarks, Arcola Fire Department Chief Edwin Allen stressed the importance of having sturdy equipment to keep firefighters safe.
Awarded $98,286, Allen said they will use those funds to purchase eight self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), six face masks and 14 complete sets of personal protective equipment, all of which he said has been "long overdue."
After taking over the department about three years ago, Allen said he quickly realized Arcola's firefighters have been working with dangerous equipment, such as losing air in all of their SCBAs.
"This equipment will be very handy to not only the firefighter but to the Town of Arcola in protecting the citizens," Allen said. "In this day and age, you need equipment that can hold up … if a firefighter doesn't have proper clothing, then they could possibly get burned or even worse, they could lose their life trying to rescue someone."
The Metcalfe Volunteer Fire Department was awarded $264,762 to buy a new tanker truck.
Head Fire Chief James Stewart said he is excited to buy a new truck, which will be a much-needed addition to the lone firetruck they currently have.
"The only one we have in town now is just a 2000 model," Stewart said. "Not only will it help us by having a second truck to serve the citizens, we'll have the capability to carry more water. There are times when we call for assistance from other departments because the only thing we have is that one truck."
Stewart said it will still be a while before a new truck rolls into town as they are still in the process of determining the specifications of what they need.
Wicker in a press release said these were competitive grants and he hopes to see more fire departments apply for aid in the future.
"With support for additional personnel, new trucks, safety equipment, and training, this latest round of FEMA grants represents an important step forward for Mississippi fire departments across our state," he said. "I would encourage more of our fire departments to reach out to my office for assistance in applying for the next round of competitive federal grants."