Exchange Club honors firefighter

Published 3:23 pm Friday, November 7, 2008

As part of National Fire and Crime Prevention month, the Picayune Exchange club honored a local fire fighter for his work in protecting citizens and their property.

Picayune Firefighter Josh Abercrombie was presented with the honor of Outstanding Firefighter of the Year.

Abercrombie has been with the department since November of 2005. His training includes smoke diver, first responder and instructor. He currently acts as an assistant instructor for the Mississippi Fire Academy and is a volunteer firefighter with the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department.

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Just before the presentation, Picayune Fire Department Training Officer Barry Lee spoke to club members about the department.

As part of Fire Prevention Month, Lee said the department has beeny active in educating school children. Almost everyday during the month of October, the department visited a school to educate the children.

“We are very passionate about taking care of our children,” Lee said.

The department employs 35 full time firefighters and 11 part-time firefighters. Some of the part-time firefighters are attending college. They man three houses in the city, one on the corner South Haugh Avenue and Mitchell Street, one on Palestine Road and another on Adcox Road.

A new fire station is under construction on South Loftin Avenue that will help to better cover the city. Lee said when that station is completed, the station on the corner of South Haugh Avenue and Mitchell Street will close. Construction of the station is funded with a $2.6 million Community Development Block Grant, which will cover the cost of constructing the road and the station.

Once the new station is complete, it will help the department achieve a better fire rating, from a six to a five.

“It will be a great reduction in insurance rates,” Lee said.

Another addition to the department is Joanie, the arson dog. She has been trained to sniff out accelerants at fire scenes. When she finds them, she sits at that area. Deputy Fire Chief John Mark Mitchell said after the site of an accelerant has been found, equipment is used to determine the type of accelerant.

The department also is expecting to receive about $720,000 in new fire trucks that also may help the city qualify for a better fire insurance rating. The trucks are funded with fire insurance rebates and are expected to arrive on Monday.

Fire Chief Keith Brown has been working hard to get his men trained in as many areas as possible, Lee said. Training includes radioactivity, bomb explosion and weapons of mass destruction. The public perception is that a terrorist attack is unlikely in small towns such as Picayune, but Lee said he would not be surprised if a terrorist attack befell a small town.