Southwest Jackson County Firefighters Still In Need Of Equipment

They lost almost everything to Katrina, but the Gulf Park Estates/St. Andrew Volunteer Fire Department is steadily making a comeback.

But the firefighters say they can't possibly protect their district from fires with what Katrina left them. So they're searching the web for the best deals on lifesaving equipment.

"Motors don't do well with water in them," firefighter Chad Shelton says.

"We lost pretty much everything," firefighter Mathew Gladden says.

The district had two stations - one in St. Andrews, the other in Gulf Park Estates. When Katrina hit, the storm filled the Gulf Park Estates Station with 13 feet of water.

"We just got two new tankers to replace the ones we lost," Gladden says.

They were able to buy the tankers and some much-needed equipment with donated money. Several fire engines were donated as well.

"If it hadn't been for everybody donating what they did, we couldn't have done what we've done so far," Gladden adds.

Something the department still needs, though, is another station for Gulf Park Estates.

"Right now responding out of this station, if we do get a call on the other side, it lengthens our response time," Shelton says.

The department's trying to make do by taking advantage of some of the volunteer's driveways.

"We'll stage trucks at their house and stuff like that, so we can get a quicker response on that side," Gladden says.

But since these brave men are in the business of fighting fires, they say they need a real hub on the other side. When it comes to saving lives, every minute counts.

Some of the equipment being donated to the Gulf Park Estates/St. Andrews Fire Protection District will arrive this weekend. Dale City, Virginia gave the district a fire engine and an ambulance.