Moss Point Dealing With Firefighter Shortage, Costly Station Repairs

"We are working very short handed at the present time," Lieutenant Alton Lee says.

Just like many fire stations on the coast, the Moss Point Fire Department is hurting from a lack of manpower since Katrina. That has left Lieutenant Alton Lee working a lot of overtime.

"It's hard to be away from your family for a 24 hour period, when you have to go 48 hours. And occasionally it has worked out even to working four straight days."

Fire officials say they lost at least six firefighters to either retirement or higher paying jobs, causing the department to seek assistance from neighboring cities and volunteers.

"We have had Pascagoula to the south of us, we had them to send as many as two trucks to a fire," Interim Fire Chief Mike Dale says.

But the problems don't end with the number of firefighters. Dale says Moss Point also needs bigger, stronger facilities.

"Our bay doors no longer close and that no longer affords our trucks weather protection."

Dale says the Dr. Rueben P. Morris Station, one of four in Moss Point, still has roof damage from Katrina and electrical problems.

"It basically reached the end of its life cycle as a fire station."

Mayor Xavier Bishop says it will cost $524,000 to demolish and rebuild the Dr. Rueben P. Morris Fire Station - a project that can be paid for using a Community Development Block Grant and mitigation funds. Work is expected to start in three to six months.