LCFD: Honoring the past while looking toward the future

Published 9:03 am Monday, April 1, 2024

The Lafayette County Fire Department recently held its first annual banquet, honoring the first volunteer firefighters and the first, full-time paid firefighters.

The banquet was held on March 22 at the Oxford Conference Center. About 100 people gathered to pay homage to those who laid the foundation for the department.

Up to about 10 years ago, the firefighters were all volunteers. 

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“Then we started having part-time firefighters, and then eventually we grew to where we have one station, (Central Station) fully manned,” said Jamie Phillips, assistant chief of training. 

The event recognized the original firefighters when the department was first formed in 1977 with a plaque that included their names.

“I just felt it was right that we honored the guys who started it all and they started it by building firetrucks in their backyards and garages,” Phillips said. 

Lifetime Achievement Awards were also given to the firefighters who have served at the department for at least 20 years.

The Central Station has four, full-time career firefighters on duty 24 hours a day. There are four administration positions there as well.

While the department has added some paid part-time and full-time positions throughout the last decade, most of the 200 firefighters in the department are still volunteers.

Phillips said getting people to volunteer at the department is becoming more difficult, largely due to inflation.

“It’s not really worth it to some people to travel and volunteer to help their neighbors,” he said.

The department has two new initiatives in place in hopes of recruiting more firefighters, whether they make it a career or want to volunteer their time.

Phillips has been reaching out to local veterans to recruit them to be volunteers.

“I have a class in May that is veterans and college students and there are roughly 15 (people) in there,” he said. 

In August, the department is holding the first high school 1001 fire class at Lafayette High School. Students who take the class will be able to graduate and be qualified to be a full-time firefighter at any fire department in the state, once they are 18 years old.

Phillips said there is no guarantee the students will join the Lafayette County Fire Department; however, the main goal of the program is simply to give students the chance at a career.

“This is our due diligence to help the youth who don’t know where they want to go in life to have another career option besides college or trade school,” Phillips said. “This will help them come out of high school with a career that they can retire from within 30 years.”

The department is looking for sponsors for its programs and next year’s annual banquet. The department also provides CPR training and emergency preparedness instruction. 

For more information, call the LCFD at 662-232-2880.