Exchange Club honors Picayune FD

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jesse Wright | Picayune Item firefighter of the year: Deputy Fire Chief John Mark Mitchell received his award Wednesday.

Jesse Wright | Picayune Item
firefighter of the year: Deputy Fire Chief John Mark Mitchell received his award Wednesday.

The Picayune Exchange Club honored two employees of the Picayune Fire Department Wednesday at the club’s meeting.

Janet Guidry, the executive assistant to the fire chief, was awarded the Exchange Club’s Outstanding Service Award and Deputy Fire Chief John Mark Mitchell was given the Fireman of the Year award. 

Guidry has worked for the fire department since 1994, and prior to that she worked for the city in other offices. She was praised for her ability to multitask and lead the department.

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Exchange Club President Greg Mitchell Jr. had high praise for Mitchell, who is retiring in January, and firefighters in general.

“These individuals serve their community by putting the safety and protection of the public above their own,” Mitchell read from a prepared statement. “They also participate in off-duty activities that help make their community a better place to live. If these men were asked why they do what they do, they may well say that they are just doing what they are trained to do.”

Indeed, Fire Chief Keith Brown told the Exchange Club members that this weekend and the weekend after that, Picayune firefighters will be installing smoke detectors in homes around town for free. 

Brown said they last conducted community-wide smoke detector installations was four years ago, and at that time, they installed 1,500 of the life-saving devices. 

Brown said the fire department partnered with the American Red Cross for funding, which they received, and now hope to make another sweep of the city.

“We’re very excited about it,” Brown said. “First and foremost, smoke detectors save lives, and that’s what we’re all about—saving lives and property.”

Brown added that during this time of the year, many home fires start due to space heater use. 

Besides the updates on the smoke alarm project, Brown gave a brief update on the city’s fire department. He said the department has about 40 employees.

“We’re maintaining, and that’s a good thing,” he said. He said he’s able to send about three people per truck to calls. Brown said he’d like to send four per truck, but three is an increase from years past. 

“We’re up to about 500 calls for the year, which is a little above average,” he said. He said most of those calls are EMS-related calls. 

“That’s the trend across the United States,” he said. 

He also mentioned the fire department raised $4,300 for Puttin on the Pink, a local cancer nonprofit that raises money for women in Pearl River County who have breast cancer.

“It’s going to keep that money right here in the county,” he said. “That’s going to help.”