Lamar Co. VFDs receive grant funds

By HASKEL BURNS,

Three volunteer fire departments in Lamar County are the recipients of a total of $13,500 in grant funding from the Mississippi Forestry Commission that will be used to purchase firefighting equipment.

During Monday’s meeting of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, Lamar County Fire Coordinator George Stevens said Southeast Volunteer Fire Department, Southwest Volunteer Fire Department and Pine Ridge Volunteer Fire Department each will receive $4,500 from the grants.

“For them, with their budgets, that’s pretty significant,” Stevens said. “They’ve got about $60,000 to $80,000 in their budget, so it’s a tremendous help and it’ll make an impact.”

The funds will be used for equipment that will enable county firefighters to help the forestry commission suppress forest fires.

“We’ve been lucky here the last few years, that we haven’t really had any severe wildfire conditions, except for a brief burn ban this year,” Stevens said. “But if we didn’t get that rain when we did, we could’ve lost houses or subdivisions.

“I think the day before the burn ban there were eight houses lost in Mississippi, and in Lamar County we’ve got a lot of subdivisions that are right on the edge of the forest. So if you get a windy day and low humidity, it can be bad.”

In addition, Southeast VFD firefighter Herbert Young won the $1,000 Ferrara Firefighting Equipment Open House grand door prize at a recent event in Holden, Louisiana. The $10,000 store credit grand prize will benefit the Southeast VFD.

“I went on my time, and I learned a lot over there to benefit our department,” Young said. “They were giving out door prizes for this and that, but (I didn’t think anything of it) because I don’t ever win anything.

“So when they called my name, I thought they were lying to somebody. But we’re supposed to be getting a new truck, and now we can start getting stuff to supply the truck.”

Stevens said he encourages all the firefighters in the area to attend trade shows and open houses whenever possible.

“You learn a lot, and you learn about the new technology out there – there’s a lot of new technology coming into fire service,” he said. “And we’ve learn about grant opportunities, and the guys bring a lot back with them, and they come back excited.

“Sometimes we think we’re really good at something, but then you travel around and you see what other guys are doing. And a lot of times, you just learn about best practices – something you’re having troubles with, somebody else may have solved that years ago.”