Thursday, September 21, 2006

West Hancock FD Struggles

Mailed to me from a friend working closely with the WHVFD (Pearlington)

I got a message to call West Hancock last night. I spoke to Chief Jones. There are new FEMA players in town and they want to start over from scratch. Nobody is interested in there rhetoric. They are back to replacing in kind apparatus that was lost. In other words if you had a 1970 fire engine they will replace it with a 1970 fire engine. I don’t know what the probabilities are of finding a 1970 fire engine that is in good shape. I would be very leery of buying anyone else’s antique fire apparatus. West Hancock can not obtain fire apparatus more than 15 years old due to insurance restrictions.

Who ever is running this program doesn’t understand that there are certain requirements for fire engines and you can’t just go out and obtain old equipment. At one time the fire departments were promised new apparatus. This issue has see sawed more than a inner city play ground. I told the officials when I was down there that obtaining antique fire apparatus was dangerous and subjected the departments to liability since the equipment would not meet NFPA standards. Certainly no one on the US Fire Administration side of DHS/FEMA would condone such equipment being put on front line status.

My thoughts are to organize the fire departments into a single voice and have them talk to their Congressman and Senators. There is no reason for all this back and forth stuff and having to redo paper work that was redone only to find that original paperwork was adequate. FEMA is asking for paperwork from insurance companies that have been provided several times already. The insurance company, I am told, is refusing to supply the same paper work over and over and over.

The new FEMA faces are of course contractors. Storms seem to breed contractors to do all sorts of things, except get stuff done. Chief Jones told me that of all the fire departments down there, West Hancock was the only one to receive any money. They have managed to get around $40 - $45K so far.

I am also told that the cities (BSL and Waveland) are getting new apparatus but didn’t lose any. I’m avoiding that contest. Waveland says they lost apparatus and I’m not so sure the Bay didn’t either. (this is rumor only. They have lost huge amounts of equipment, vehicles and buildings)

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