According to a report from WLBT, the McComb (MS) Fire Department (MFD) recently lost one of its spare fire trucks after it broke down. MFD Chief Gary McKenzie now says the loss has put the city close to a “crisis level” if one more truck malfunctions.
McComb leaders are now trying to find the money needed to fill that void for the city. However, this need has become more common all over the state. Many Mississippi fire departments just don’t have the funds to buy new trucks.
Copiah County Emergency Operations Center Director Randle Drane said that this issue is affecting all of his county’s departments, even with the state’s Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance funds. although the national Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) offers a lot more money to departments that need it, the municipality or county must match 5 percent of the cost if they’re able to acquire the grant.
Even with the matching of funds, small fire departments and counties often don’t have the thousands of dollars it still takes to get a truck, which could run anywhere from $300,000 up to a $1 million, depending on the type of apparatus needed.
When grant writer, attorney and firefighter Jared Evans joined up in 2001, his department had two trucks that dated back to the 1950s. He says that some of those trucks are still in use around the state today, some dating as far back as the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Evans, who specializes in writing AFGs, said many departments that could get the grant are convinced they won’t, and he encourages them to try anyway.