The Hazlehurst Volunteer Fire Department of Copiah County received safety equipment recently from the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) as part of a National Fire Plan Program grant through the USDA Forest Service
“This equipment will improve the capability and effectiveness of the local volunteer fire departments in central Mississippi to safely protect lives and rural properties,” said John Locke, Assistant District Forester, Capital District located in Pearl.
This special grant was awarded to 73 volunteer fire departments and outfitted 730 firefighters statewide. The grant provides wildland firefighting personal protective equipment to help local volunteer fire department personnel to extinguish grass and brush fires and assist MFC on wildfires.
Each approved volunteer fire department received 10 Ready Kits. Each kit contains the following items: Nomex yellow coverall suit, wildland Bullard helmet, Nomex neck shroud, headlamp, gloves, safety glasses, and a yellow storage bag. (Nomex is a flame-resistant material.)
“When volunteer fire department personnel respond to a wildland fire or grass fire they normally wear their structural firefighting clothing, which is very heavy and hot. The structural firefighting clothing is not designed for the extreme wildland firefighting activities,” states Locke.
“There are plans in the future for local volunteer fire department personnel to receive some specialized wildland firefighting training through a new distance learning program called Fire in the Field,” Locke said. The National Fire Plan Program grant does not cover the cost of the wildfire training.
Many towns and communities in the Forestry Commission’s Capital District are at high risk for wildfires. It is important that the volunteer fire department personnel have this safety equipment to protect them on these dangerous and often unpredictable wildfires. Most fire chiefs will tell you that fighting a wildfire is different from extinguishing a structural fire. The local volunteer fire departments rely on grants from the USDA Forest Service and the Mississippi Forestry Commission for this special safety gear. For more information about MFC firefighting grants, go to the MFC’s web site: www.mfc.state.ms.us.