Local fire department garners international attention - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Local fire department garners international attention

John Pope III - Collins Fire Chief John Pope III - Collins Fire Chief
COLLINS, MS (WDAM) -

Oil and gasoline storage facilities can be found in abundance across the south Mississippi. One local fire department has taken the initiative to ensure it has the tools and expertise to combat a potential fire at one of these facilities. In the process, they have gained international attention.

"Most all the fuel that goes up the eastern seaboard and across the Gulf Coast states comes through the pipe lines and the tankage in Collins," said John Pope III, Collins Fire Chief. "That puts a larger responsibility on the Collins Fire Department to be able to adequately protect those facilities."

Last year, an explosion occurred in two 25 foot tall oil storage tanks in Jefferson Davis County. The Collins Fire Department was first on the scene to battle the fire.

"We fought those two tanks. We were able to get extinguishment in less than 3 minutes on that entire fire," said Pope.

It is these expertise that has put Collins on the map as a leader in fighting these industrial fires. They have specialty equipment unlike any other department in the state.

"We have two 5,000 per minute large flow monitors. We also have two foam attack trailers. They were two of the first ones in the state that we know of. We also keep a compliment of foam on hand. We carry foam totes that go anywhere from 265 gallons to 330 gallons of foam each," explained Pope.

All these tools, and yet it was all funded without the use of tax payers' dollars.

"The reason we have this equipment is because of partnerships with our local tank farm and terminal facilities. They have helped us to acquire this equipment with no expense to the local tax payers," said Pope.

It's a small city department, with a large responsibility. After an article was published highlighting the department, they have begun to garner international attention.

"An international fire service publication. It's read by fire service leaders across the world. We had contacts and phone calls from as far away as Saudi Arabia," explained Pope.

Fire Chief Pope III has now been invited to a five day, all expense paid trip to Taiwan to be the main speaker at the "2013 International Conference on Prevention and Response to Toxic Chemical Incidents."

"While there I will talk about some of the fires that we fought. I'll talk about some of the enhancements that we have made to our local response capabilities, and also some of the enhancements in the fire service across the United States," said Pope.

He sees it as an opportunity to network and continue their growth in the city. 

"We do see that this would show our local industry that the Collins Fire Department has been charged with the task of protecting the City of Collins.  Both the industry, and the business, and the private citizens, and private properties in the city, and that we are capable of doing that," said Pope.

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