Chief says Mississippi firefighters couldn’t take mutual aid fire because they were at lunch

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By: Fox 23

JONES COUNTY, MS. – Jones County Volunteer Fire Department (JCVFD) battled a Mother’s Day duplex fire Sunday, where the fire completely destroyed the building.

 During Sunday’s call JCVFD requested back-up from Laurel city firefighters, but they did not get the response it needed.

 The fire happened on Redbud Drive off Highway 11 around 11 a.m. JCVFD’s Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna said the fire was intense.

 According to county firefighters, “Sandersville fire department was the first to arrive on scene with their engine and immediately began an aggressive interior attack.”

 McKenna issued an evacuation alert for all firefighters to clear the building due to the situation quickly becoming extremely dangerous.

 “With fire trucks on scene blaring their horns, which is the sign for interior-attack firefighters to exit the building, other firefighters began an aggressive exterior attack on all sides of the structure” said JCVFD.

 

McKenna said, “At that time the request was made for Laurel Fire Department as we have a mutual agreement with them to request an engine company to respond to the incident.”

 Laurel firefighters said to call back in 15 minutes if the situation continues to get worse. According to Laurel Fire Chief James Brown firefighters were on lunch.

 “What happened is, that we have, a truck that was out onto lunch at that particular time” said Chief Brown.

 He added, “Which is the cover truck that would cover in place of Engine 2. Engine 5 was the truck that was out. Engine 2 was covering for engine 5 at that particular time.”

 FOX 23 asked Chief Brown if there were any other fires the city responded to on Sunday. Chief Brown replied with, “No.”

 Chief Brown said he had 17 firefighters working on Sunday. “So in that particular evening with what was happening at that time, the Battalion Chief who was on call at that time, delayed in sending the truck due to the cover truck that was out during that particular time, lunch detail” Chief Brown said.

 County firefighters said they needed manpower on the scene and could not wait for the city’s firefighters. According to McKenna the fire was rapidly growing.

 Shady Grove and Calhoun Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene instead.

 “The fire was so deep seated at that point already, we were running through our personnel just from the radiant heat that they had been exposed to” said McKenna.

 He added, “The outcome of the situation would not have made a difference, although the extra hands would have helped.”

 Both Chief Brown and McKenna agreed to meet behind close doors to make sure the mutual agreement for assistance will be taken into serious consideration.

 Chief Brown said, “I am going to go ahead and address the issue in the event that something should arrive at this matter despite whatever is going on.”

 He continued, “They (city firefighters) are going to stop what they are doing and answer that call and respond to it.”

 “That is what we are putting in place right now to make sure this will never happen again” Chief Brown said.

 There were no serious injuries due to the fire, however county firefighters were treated at the scene for heat exhaustion.

 Emergency personnel on scene included Sandersville, Rustin, Powers, Glade, Sharon, Shady Grove and Calhoun Volunteer Fire Departments, EMServ Ambulance Service and Jones County Sheriff’s Department.

 The cause of the fire is under investigation according to JCVFD.