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County discusses providing own fire protection, leaving agreement with city

NATCHEZ — In three years, an interlocal agreement between Natchez and Adams County to provide fire protection to their residents will be up for renewal. Adams During Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, County Fire Coordinator Darryl Smith said he hopes the county will be able to provide manpower for its own fire stations before then.

“It won’t be long before our interlocal agreement with the city will be up,” Smith said, during Tuesday’s meeting. “We talked about in the past adding new stations to the county, one in the north part of the county and one in the south part.”

The 10-year agreement was signed Sept. 30, 2013, and is set to expire in 2023, officials said.

Smith said at previous meetings the county had discussed building the new stations near the airport and near Cloverdale and Lower Woodville Road.

Smith said the best way to man new stations would be with a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters using approximately $626,000 that the county currently pays to the city each year for fire protection.

“Right now, we’re paying the salaries for 16 firefighters for the Natchez Fire Department,” Smith said. “Once our agreement is up, we could pretty much use those 16 positions to start our own combination departments.”

Smith said volunteers could work on-call outside of regular business hours while six paid firefighters could be assigned to each of the new stations during the day when they’re most needed with at least two firefighters on each shift.

“We are going to have to sit down discuss this with the city before we do anything,” board president, Ricky Gray said. “We want to have a plan rather than just take all of the city’s firefighters and leave them hanging. Before we do anything, we need to have a sit-down discussion with them and communicate to be sure we’re all on the same page before we move forward.”

Smith also asked the Board of Supervisors whether volunteer firefighters could be compensated for the time being.

“They come out in the middle of the night during storms to help out in the county,” Smith said. “Is there any way we can do anything for them?”

Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said volunteer firefighters are eligible for a credit to their car tag but cannot legally be given any other compensation for volunteer services.

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, the board:

  • Unanimously authorized the Adams County Road Department to get an engineering estimate for repairs to the Robins Lake Road dam.
  • Unanimously approved the purchase of batteries for emergency sirens for $4,850.
  • Unanimously approved a proclamation of a state of emergency for Mississippi River flooding to be eligible for reimbursement for any future damages to roads or infrastructure.