Fire

A recent structure fire in Houlka led to four departments being dispatched due to lack of personnel, even citizens jumped in to help.

CHICKASAW – The fire departments in Chickasaw County are in desperate need of volunteers.

According to Chickasaw County Fire Coordinator Jonathan Blankenship, they are short handed everywhere.

“Every fire department is extremely short handed, especially during the daytime,” he said. “We are having to send sometimes four of our eight fire departments in the county to a structure fire – just for manpower...and are still short handed.”

The fire departments are responsible for many duties, including:

– Responding to emergencies, which include fires, emergency medical, wrecks, lost persons, weather damage events and hazardous materials incidents.

– Attend fire department meetings and training.

– Assist with fund raising efforts.

– Equipment maintenance.

– Assist during special events (festivals, etc.)

“A volunteer firefighter is similar to a Jack of All Trades,” said Blankenship. “There is an old saying, 'If you don't know who to call, call the fire department.' They will help you or get you help.”

There are other requirements for becoming a volunteer firefighter as well.

“We ask our firefighters to respond to emergencies and attend monthly trainings/department meetings. Also, we are in need of people willing to dedicate themselves to becoming a certified volunteer firefighter, a course taught locally through the Mississippi Fire Academy, and emergency medical training (first aid or first responder).”

To volunteer, contact any one of the fire departments in the county, as all are needing volunteers, or contact Blankenship, and he will put potential volunteers in contact with their local chief.

There are a total of eight volunteer fire departments in Chickasaw, and all of them are in need of volunteers.

They include:

– Houlka

– Houston

– Thorn

– Southeast (Buena Vista)

– Woodland/Sparta

– Van Vleet

– Rhodes Chapel/Atlanta

– Okolona

Blankenship noted the many reasons one should consider becoming a volunteer firefighter.

“If YOU don’t volunteer, who will?” He emphasized. “Without volunteers, your community suffers. Don’t wait for someone else to help, step up and help, and recruit someone else to come with you.”

He said that the bonds firefighters share is unlike any other.

“Fire service is a family - the camaraderie - Is unmatched. A volunteer fire department needs people with all kinds of talents...Firefighters, emergency medical care, mechanics, secretarial, fund raisers, photographers, etc. Everyone is busy, we understand that. We need dedicated, honest and trustworthy people willing to help out and make our county a safer place to live.”

As if that was not enough, he also mentioned how more volunteer firefighters could save the communities money while being part of something bigger than themselves.

“Our local fire departments play a huge role in your fire insurance rates. Each fire department saves home owners a lot of money on fire insurance. We have fire stations and equipment, we need willing, honest and trustworthy people. We want to run a clean ship - come be a part of something good.”

All firefighters are subject to background checks, drug tests and drivers license checks.

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