Henleyfield VFD is making an addition

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2008

An extension to a local volunteer fire department will help it grow with the population in its coverage area of the county.

The estimated $300,000 extension to the Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Department will add a large training room, a kitchen, bathrooms and offices, said Fire Chief Scott Sullivan.

Sullivan said the large training room will feature courses such as CPR and hunter’s education. A boy scout troop to be formed in the area also will have access to the addition.

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“There’ll be a lot of things available to the community,” Sullivan said.

A USDA grant is paying for two thirds the cost of the addition. The rest will be covered by money raised through fund raisers and tax revenue, Sullivan said. Twice a year, in April and October the department holds fish frys to raise money for the department.

Construction of the addition is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

In case of emergencies the addition will be capable of temporarily sleeping eight men. A generator included in the addition will be able to power the station for about a week without refueling. To keep communications going in such emergencies, a communications center and a larger antenna will be installed. Sullivan said he is considering amateur radio as well.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Henleyfield Fire District has been upgraded with the installation of about 20 fire hydrants.

“We never had the luxury of having hydrants for water,” Sullivan said.

On average, the class eight department receives 230 calls a year. About 60 percent of those calls are medical in nature, Sullivan said.

Last year the department received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant that purchased breathing apparatuses and the equipment necessary to refill the tanks. The $55,000 grant was enough to purchase all of that equipment. Only five percent of that grant had to be matched by the department.

Sullivan said he would like to thank community members for their support of the department over the years. During the fish frys, the department usually sells about 500 plates, he said.

The support of all the other fire departments in the county also is appreciated. Picayune Fire Department’s Training Officer Barry Lee helps to train the volunteer firefighters, Sullivan said. The surrounding departments, Crossroads, McNeill, Pine Grove and Carriere, all help Henleyfield with mutual aid, and in large emergencies all departments assist each other, Sullivan said.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should consider joining the department. Sullivan is looking for hardworking, safety-minded individuals to help cover the department’s 140 square-mile district. Volunteers are needed in jobs other than just firefighting. Clerical, computer work, community service and truck operators are all needed at the department.