‘Every second counts:' Harrison County Fire Chief discusses challenges of rural fires

‘Every second counts:' Harrison County Fire Chief discusses challenges of rural fires

HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Fighting fires can be a tough job for fire crews responding in isolated areas.

At 4 a.m. on Thursday, Harrison County firefighters rushed to put out flames that took over a mobile home on Firetower Road.

The home sits in a less populated part of the county. Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said while it’s not exactly rural, the location presents similar challenges.

“In the city, a 10 minute response time by a firetruck is a long time. In the county, that response may be 10, 15 or 20 minutes," Sullivan said.

The fire charred nearby trees and bushes. For those who live in woodsy areas, the density of the brush can be dangerous in this hot and dry season.

“It has all this fuel there that can burn, and the radiated heat can actually set the home on fire," Sullivan said. “We haven’t seen those kinds of fires where 200 to 300 homes are burnt, like in some other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen here.”

Another issue is that county fire departments tend to have less manpower.

“In the county, we’re running one or two people to the truck. We depend very heavily on the volunteers; the volunteers are very important to us," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said rural fires go unnoticed for longer periods of time, so alarms in the home are critical.

“We preach smoke detectors. We preach alarm systems. We would love to see people start putting sprinkler systems in their homes," he said.

He said that a neighbor’s watchful eye could be the key to early detection.

“If you see smoke and you don’t know why there’s smoke, go investigate it. Call your neighbor and say, ‘hey, I see smoke are you burning something?’" he said. “Every second counts when you’re talking about fire.”

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