Equipment failure is to blame for firefighter’s injuries in Marion County

Pine Belt

MARION COUNTY, Miss.(WHLT) – Equipment failure is to blame for a firefighter’s injuries this weekend. 

Sunday afternoon, around 1:30, Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Department and Hickory Grove Fire Station responded to a house fire on Dry Branch Road. 

Investigators say flames sparked in the kitchen and spread to the living room. 

However, while firefighters were knocking down the fire, one crew member suffered from smoke inhalation. He was checked out by medics and released on the scene. 

After fire crews finished battling the fire, they inspected the injured firefighter’s mask. 

Dewayne Stuckey, President of Tri-Community, say they found the self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) malfunctioned. Stuckey says this is not the first time an equipment malfunction has happened, but it’s the first time someone has been injured. 

Although the various fire departments throughout Marion County continue to have equipment issues, they have to keep using them. There’s no additional funds statewide or locally that can help replace the masks.

“Just the air packs alone would be about $150,000 for new air packs. So that gives you an idea of our challenges… A new fire truck is about $250,000.” 

For the past five or six years Marion County, along with several other Pine Belt counties, have been waiting for the Mississippi Legislature to give out more funds from the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program. As of right now the fire department’s budget is $120,000 a year between five different stations, which gives no room for purchasing new equipment. 

When they received the grant, it helped pay at least one third of the cost of a new truck or other equipment, but without the funds, they’re still working with 17-year-old equipment. 

Stuckey believes the incident Sunday shows just how important it is for fire departments to receive additional funding. He’s urging citizens in the surrounding community to rally to the Mississippi Legislature that fire departments need as much money as possible. 

“We’ve got to have safe equipment for our firefighters… Also we’ve got to have safe reliable equipment for the citizens serve… to provide the best possible service we can as a volunteer rural fire service for them.”

WJTV reached out to the representative for Marion County about this matter, but have no heard back yet. 

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