Hub City Spokes
Lamar County Fire Service Receives FEMA Grants
By Haskel Burns
Lamar County fire service officials recently received $396,785 of more than $1.85 million in grant money given throughout the state from the Federal Management Agency as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Assistance to Firefighters program.
Of Lamar County’s portion of the funds – which is being distributed through the Lamar County Board of Supervisors - $300,000 will go to Southeast Lamar Fire Department in Lumberton for a recruitment and retention program, while $96,785 will be used to hire two part-time firefighters in the Sumrall/Hickory Grove area in northern Lamar County. Andrew Pylant, battalion chief at Southeast Lamar Fire Department, wrote the grant on behalf of the county.
“We’ve been seeking additional funding sources to try to relieve some of the financial stress on the county, to try to help them out and increase the fire protection through federal grants,” Pylant said. “We’ve also put in for some non-federal grants as well, but we haven’t heard anything back from those yet.”
The recruitment and retention program at Southeast Lamar Fire Department will allow for the creation of an Elective Service Award program for volunteer firefighters, while the hiring of the two new firefighters in the Sumrall/Hickory Grove area will double the coverage of paid personnel in that area.
“The $300,000 is going to be able to fund the recruitment program for up to 20 firefighters – depending on participation – within a year, and that’s put out over four years,” Pylant said. “So we could significantly see changes on the south end.
“The north end, we know what the change is going to be, because it’s going to be doubling their paid staff.”
The grants were announced last week by U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith. The AFG program is designed to improve communities’ overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and related hazards, and has provided more than $7.1 billion in grants to first-responder organizations since 2001.
Other organizations throughout the state receiving grant funds include:
· Biloxi Fire Department in Biloxi: more than $1.05 million to hire nine firefighters for three years
· Iuka Volunteer Fire Department in Iuka: $140,954 to purchase a new fire truck and $64,000 for 24 sets of personal protective equipment
· Hebron Volunteer Fire Department in Soso: $65,477 for new personal protective equipment for 10 firefighters and five new face masks
· Sharon Volunteer Fire Department in Laurel: $40,000 for 15 sets of personal protective equipment
· Johnson Volunteer Fire Department in Ellisville: $38,381 for new personal protective equipment for 11 firefighters
· City of Laurel: $27,620 for operations and safety equipment
· Edinburg Volunteer Fire Department in Carthage: $17,620 for operations and safety equipment
· City of Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department: $10,024 for fire prevention and education
· Lake Harbor Volunteer Fire Department in Brandon: $5,981 for operations and safety equipment
“FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program provides much-needed funding to local fire departments to improve operations,” Wicker said in a statement. “The grants announced (last week) will support important upgrades to equipment for dozens of firefighters and aid other departments with special projects that will protect our communities.”