Supervisors asked to consider a paid firefighter in north end

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, August 6, 2022

During Monday’s meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, the Board was asked to consider paying firefighters to respond to calls during the day in areas covered by volunteers.

EOC Director Shawn Wise said his office has been approached by members of several volunteer fire departments to fund a firefighter who can respond to calls while volunteers are at work, which is typically during the day.

His suggestion was to have three part time firefighters rotate shifts so only one of them is on the job at a time from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Wise said there are grants to help get the program off the ground from the federal government, but if the county accepts that grant the stipulation is the position remains in tact.

By hiring three people to work part time, the county can avoid the extra expense of benefits, and Wise suggested hiring career firefighters to fill those spots since they will already have benefits and training.

So far, the plan is to operate that paid position out of the Emergency Operations Center in Poplarville, and rotate the use of a fire truck from departments in the north end of the county weekly.

The suggestion was made to fill in gaps because volunteerism is on a decline in the county. According to previous coverage, many volunteer firefighters have day jobs, limiting their ability to respond to emergencies during the day.

In other business, Wise said county departments are in need of a fire truck capable of responding to fires at structures that are two or more stories. He said there is only one county wide and the need continues to grow since larger and larger structures are being built in the county.

In a separate matter, firefighters responded to a fire that damaged the cabin of a fire truck at the Northeast Volunteer Fire Department. The cab of the truck appears to have taken the brunt of the damage, and the exterior of the department appears to have not been damaged due to the fire. Wise said the fire occurred on July 30 at about 11 p.m. at the station located at the intersection of Highway 26 and Oscar Lee Road. An investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway.