State funding to help Lamar County rural fire departments

State funding to help Lamar County rural fire departments
A local department will apply for a grant to buy a new fire truck. Source: WDAM.

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Lamar County is hoping state funding will help build the fleet for rural fire departments.

Senate Bill 2467, signed by Governor Phil Bryant last month, put $4.5 million towards the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program. County Administrator Jody Waits said that means local departments can apply for grant money to buy new trucks and equipment.

"The county has a number of aging vehicles, which are in good shape, but some of them are '95 models already, they won't last forever," said Waits. "So without this money to help departments buy new apparatus, we can be looking at millions of dollars that we're having to come up with that I don't know where we'd get it, so this is a very important program."

Waits said the program has not been funded for four years, so he's happy to see lawmakers help the departments.

"I mean, it's billions of dollars that these volunteers are giving of their service to protect people and so, anytime we can come up with grants or funding we can help buy them fire trucks or equipment, that's a major deal," he said.

Recently, the board announced  fire rating improvements for several rural departments. The improvements mean lower insurance rates for homeowners, as well as better service throughout the community.

"If we can't get the water to the fire, we can't put it out and then your fire rating is going to go up," said Waits. "So, all of this works together, the efforts of the volunteers, the efforts of our county, our county fire coordinator, the supervisors. And we are very thankful for the state to provide this money that has not been available for quite some time now."

Waits said the Board of Supervisors has already approved the grant application for a local department. The next step will be to submit that application to receive the money to purchase the truck.