Friday, October 20, 2006

West Hancock VFD Getting Help

Water is usually a welcome site for any firefighter. But Katrina's 13 foot storm surge was much more water than members of the West Hancock Volunteer Fire Department ever wanted to see.
Kim Jones, Chief of the West Hancock Volunteer Fire Department, took WLOX on a tour of his storm damaged fire station.
"In here, the water just wiped out the living quarters completely. We had 11 trucks total, nine of them were destroyed."
Heavy damage to the building left the department with nowhere to house the fire trucks that weathered the storm or those donated to the department.
"Ever since Katrina, we've had our trucks sitting outdoors in the atmosphere getting beat up by hail storms and the sun hitting the hose line, which the ultra violet rays were destroying those."
Chief Kim Jones says a new, temporary fire house will provide much needed shelter for the department's equipment and five fire trucks. FEMA paid for the $14,000 facility. Seabees from the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 provided the manpower and construction expertise.
"It's projects like these that are great training for our Seabees. Junior Seabees get an opportunity to come out here and use those types of skills, 'cause it's similar type facilities that we're building out on deployment wherever we're at in the world," Seabee Commander Allan Stratman said.
"When we showed up here it still looked like the storm had just hit yesterday, so it was nice to come into an area that really wasn't getting much help and be able to help them get off the ground and get back on their feet," Seabee Andrew Brandmeier said.
Chief Jones says it will cost between $200,000 and $300,000 to repair their storm damaged station, so the temporary facility will likely be home for a long time.
FEMA is also funding a mini fueling station for the fire department. Right now, there are no working gas stations in Pearlington. Fire fighters have been driving 25 minutes to Bay St. Louis or Waveland just to gas up.


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