By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – Both the Baldwyn and Birmingham Ridge Volunteer Fire Departments received $70,000 checks Thursday to buy new fire trucks.
The money comes from the Rural Fire Truck Program, which helps fund the state’s volunteer fire departments. Lee County fire departments have purchased 11 trucks through the program, which started in 1995.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney presented the checks to the departments.
“This program helps to save lives and property by making sure our fire departments have the equipment they need to do their jobs,” said Chaney. “Our volunteer firemen are a great asset to the state. They do so much with no pay that we can’t put a price on how valuable they are to the state and to their communities.”
Volunteers make up 84 percent of all the firemen in the state, according to Chaney. In fact, the Baldwyn department, including Chief Jerry Ozbirn, are all volunteers. Ozbirn said the Rural Fire Truck Program is essential to volunteer departments.
“It’s a life-saving program,” said Ozbirn. “We volunteers put our lives on the line with every call we go on, so it’s good to know that we have the right equipment when we go out.”
Ozbirn said he now can pay for the new $292,000 fire engine the department has purchased.
Chaney and Ozbirn said better fire equipment helps boost the area’s fire rating, which helps decrease insurance premiums for homeowners.
Since the program began, more than $50 million a year has been saved by homeowners, according to Chaney.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.