Lafayette County Fire Department maps out future
Published 9:58 am Friday, July 21, 2017
By the year 2022, the Lafayette County Fire Department hopes to increase its volunteer membership by five percent and dropping the average age of those volunteers to 35.
Recently the Lafayette County Fire Board met with volunteer firefighters across Lafayette County’s five districts to discuss how the department could grow and improve over the next several years.
“In each of those meetings, we went through a series of questions to analyze our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities,” said Fire Board President Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez. “We talked about what we do well, and what asked what we needed to do better.”
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Sullivan-Gonzalez said many of the volunteers expressed concerns about budget cuts from the state and are worried about how the department will keep up with Lafayette County’s growth.
All of the input was gathered and included in the department’s new Vision, Mission and Strategic Plan 2017-2025.
One of the goals of the plan is to increase volunteers by 5 percent by aggressively recruiting and training potential volunteer firefighters while targeting age groups who are generally more permanent residents. A good part of the current volunteers is made up of University of Mississippi students who spend two to three years as a volunteer before they leave after finishing school, according to Sullivan-Gonzalez.
Other goals include replacing one fire truck a year.
“We need new, active volunteers,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “We’re very optimistic that people will respond.”
About 160 volunteers protect more than 660-square miles of Lafayette County. Fifty-one percent are over 40 years old. Twenty-eight are between 50 and 59 and 26 are over 60 years old.
The number of calls increased by about 100 calls a year from 2011 to 2016.
Another goal is to have at least one station fully staffed, 24-hours a day with paid firefighters.
“We are hoping to move toward being a combination fire department of paid and volunteer firefighters,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.