Jackson names new fire chief - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson names new fire chief

Jackson names new fire chief; Source: JFD Jackson names new fire chief; Source: JFD

The City of Jackson has a new fire chief and he is a familiar face to many Jackson residents.

Jackson named Willie G. Owens the new fire chief Wednesday.

According to Division Fire Chief Cleotha Sanders, Owens was voted in as fire chief Tuesday night in a city council meeting.

Owens served as fire chief under Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's father until his death.

Chief Owens says there are two primary concerns with the department: funding and staffing. 

"We need 50 to 60 new firefighters," he says.

One of his solutions is lowering the age requirement to 18. 

"If we can get a curriculum in JPS to start these kids out, even in first grade, learning about the fire service all the way up through 12th grade," said Owens. "Once they get out of high school, they can go right into the fire department if they want to."

The city allocated $19 million to the department in 2018. He hopes that he can convince them to give more. 

Owens says the funding would help the department raise its fire rating. Currently JFD has a class 3 rating.1 being the best 4 the worst.

"Infrastructure plays a lot in that," Owens said. "You have to have good pipes, you have to have good streets."

Owens doesn't plan on making too many staffing changes, but he says in order to have a solid fire department, you must have a good team. 

"All you have to do is do your work, work hard, study and you will be able to get in this position," explained Owens. "That's what I want to train people to be able to move all the way up to the top," Owens says.  

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