WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced the award of over $100,000 in AFG awards to two Tippah County volunteer fire departments.

Spout Springs will receive a grant of $81,428; while Blue Mountain will get a grant of $35,380.95, according to Jessica Rolison-Jeter, who is Tippah County Fire Services-Assistant County Coordinator, Elite Administrator, Blue Mountain Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief and Mitchell Volunteer Fire Department Secretary.

The Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) program will be awarded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.

Rolison-Jeter said this week: “Our Blue Mountain grant will go toward turnout equipment and tools. The four sets of turnout equipment will cost about $12,000, and the rest will go toward replacing tools and nozzles that are out of date or broken.

“We order the equipment, then we have to request the funds. Items like the turnout gear are special order. The town of Blue Mountain will be required to pay a match of $1,769. We hope to have all of our equipment by the end of the year,” Chief Jeter said.

The department has about 15 members, and has an area of operation that covers about 35 square miles. The department responded to 21 fires in 2020, and about 18 fires so far this year, she said. Spout Springs Volunteer Fire Department secretary/treasurer Brandon Jones said this week that department’s grant of $81,428 will be used to purchase 12 complete SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) units including 12 oxygen bottles. They’ll also buy 12 extra bottles for a total of 24 bottles. “We need the units to safely enter a burning building. The new units will replace the four units we have now, which we’ve had for almost 20 years,” he said. He said some of the current units are older than some of the department’s firefighters who may be wearing them.

The grant funds will be matched with $4,071.43 in other funds to buy the new equipment. Jones hopes to have the new equipment by Oct. 1, 2021, he said.

The department has about 15 members, and has an area of operation that covers about 30 square miles. The department responded to six fires as a part of 82 total runs last year.

The rest of the runs beside fire calls included various EMR first responder calls, he said. “Wrecks, heart attacks, other medical calls -- we roll any time an ambulance rolls in our district.” Said Sen. Wicker: “Mississippi’s firefighters – many of them volunteers – work hard to keep our communities safe. This latest round of grants will help ensure more fire departments across the state have the resources to continue doing their jobs and protecting the public.”

Said Sen. Hyde-Smith: “In order for our firefighters to carry out their life-saving jobs, they need up-to-date equipment, vehicles, protective gear, and training. These FEMA grants will help them to obtain such critically needed resources to enhance public safety. I’m thankful for this round of funding, and would encourage more Mississippi fire departments to apply for these competitive grants.”

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