Stone County Firefighters Say Lack Of Money Could Cost Lives

When a fire breaks out, people depend on firefighters to try to save their property and perhaps their lives. The chief of one South Mississippi fire department says lives could be lost if his staff doesn't come up with the money for desperately needed equipment.

This weekend, the department threw a fundraiser in the form of a car show. It gave O.C. McDonald an opportunity to check out great cars and show his appreciation for the Perkinston Volunteer Fire Department. A few years ago, he watched firefighters as they saved his Stone County home.

"It's really important to help them out because they need different things to help carry on," McDonald said. "They have to have a whole lot of things to do the work."

Fire Chief Ronnie Sims says he and his staff spends nearly as much time fighting for money as they do fighting fires. Sims says $300,000 to $500,000 could make improvements to the fire station, buy an additional tanker trunk and a ladder truck. He says a fire at a multi-story building on the college campus or in Wiggins could turn deadly without the right equipment.

"If we had a fire at the dorms, all we have is a 40-foot ladder, and it's gonna be hard to evacuate people and take care of things with a 40-foot ladder," Sims said.

Chief Ronnie Sims says that if a fire were to break out in a multi-story building, his department would have to wait 30 to 40 minutes for a ladder truck to come from either Gulfport or Hattiesburg. That new ladder truck will have to wait until the department finds more money. Fire department fundraisers haven't brought the response volunteers had hoped, but that's not stopping them from trying.