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LCFD chief: More staff needed to serve county

Editor’s note: This was updated with corrected information regarding the total budget and employee status.

Lafayette County Fire Department Chief Wes Anderson says the LCFD needs to hire 12 additional full-time firefighters, rebuild the College Hill fire station and replace two outdated vehicles in order to serve county residents.

That’s why the department requested an 83 percent increase in its FYE22 budget.

The department, which services all areas outside Oxford City Limits, ran 1,156 calls in 2020 and are project to run 1,464 in 2021, Anderson said. Those calls included fires, technical rescues and medical responses.

In reviewing the proposed budget with the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors last week, Anderson said the growth of the community and the LCFD’s increasingly active role in medical response is evident in the ever-increasing call totals. He asked for funding to hire 12 full-time firefighters to relieve some of the pressure on current employees and volunteers.

“I think it’s a must-have for the operation of our department,” said Anderson.

LCFD currently is staffed by 25 part-time employees, 175 volunteers, one full-time fleet and facility manager and two full-time administrators.

The 2021-2022 proposed budget is $2.249 million, which includes the 12 additional firefighters and a pay increase for LCFD staff. The 2020-2021 budget was $1.275 million.

Anderson said with the additional staff, four firefighters could be scheduled each day: two at Station 10 (Central) located on County Road 1032 and two at Station 9 (Taylor) located on Cutoff Road in Taylor. There are currently part-time employees placed at both stations.

These two locations are prioritized because Station 10 is LCFD’s most central location and Station 9 serves a municipality.

Of the total 15 stations, Anderson said one needs to be renovated or replaced in the upcoming year: Station 4 in College Hill.

“It’s an aging building,” said Anderson. “To keep up with infrastructure needs, we want to replace it with a new building at a different location.”

There is no cost projection for the new fire station as of yet.

In addition to the need for more personnel,  Anderson said the department must begin to address its fleet. The department currently has two older non-front line trucks that he would like to see phased out over time. The trucks include a  1992 tanker located at Station 1 (Harmontown) and a 1988 tanker located at Station 12 (Philadelphia). Both stations have a Class 9 MSRB rating.

Also, Anderson said one one front-line truck was not able to pass the Mississippi State Rating Bureau tests. He wants to replace that truck and move it to non-front line status, allowing the department to retire one of the older tankers.

The 2021-2022 vehicle budget request increased to $400,000 from 2020-2021’s $255,000 to allow the department to implement a vehicle replacement plan.

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