HOUSTON -- Houston Fire Rescue recently received a Volunteer Fire Assistance grant of $4487.85 from the Mississippi Forestry Commission, Fire Chief Jonathan Blankenship said this week.

The money will be used to purchase hose, a nozzle, and wildland firefighting equipment.

That will help firefighters protect more than Houston area residents and property, since the Houston department has mutual aid agreements with each of the county’s seven other departments, and has often responded to assist those other departments.

Those departments include two -- Woodland and Rhodes Chapel -- with two substations, due to the area each department covers.

The purchases will help the Houston department build its wildland firefighting capability, the chief said. “It will let us replenish equipment that has aged.”

Records indicate the department has been called out on 10 wildland fires so far this year. “That’s a tad below normal, mostly because we’ve had a fairly wet year,” the chief said.

No figures were available from the department as to the number of acres of forestland damaged or destroyed. There were several cases where firefighters had to protect structures; none were destroyed. No injuries or fatalities were reported to animals, firefighters or residents.

“We appreciate what MFC does for us. They provide a lot of equipment, hand tools and vehicles for departments across the state. They’re a valuable resource,” Chief Blankenship said.

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