LAMAR COUNTY, Miss.(WHLT) – In Lamar County there’s a growing need for new fire trucks, but they’re not the only county struggling.
Since 1995, various counties around the Pine Belt have received grants from the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program (RFTAAP). The program is designed to help fire departments purchase new trucks.
George Stevens, Lamar County Fire Coordinator, says it’s been several years since the Mississippi Legislature has fully funded the program.
In 1995 the program started off by giving two $50,000 grants, but Stevens says with the need for more trucks, the Mississippi Legislature needs to increase the grant to $100,000.
As of right now the county has four Front Line Fire Engines that are over 23-years-old.
“We need to start working to replace them. We have three stations we’re building, will be building in the next few years, and we’re going to take these old trucks in reserve now and put it out there. So we’re going to get further and further behind.”
In 2017 Lamar County firefighters responded to 5,000 emergency calls. According to Stevens 80 percent were medical, and the rest were shootings, stabbings and sometimes even the flu.
He says with the many hats firefighters wear, at some point the older trucks will start to have maintenance issues. Without new trucks, firefighters around the Pine Belt will be put in jeopardy.
Stevens urges everyone to contact their local representatives and senators to let them know how important this funding is for each fire department.