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Bill would mean $2 million for Jackson Fire Department

Jackson fire truck
Jackson fire truck(WLBT)
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 7:02 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bill introduced in the Senate this year could give Jackson at least a portion of the funds needed to build a new fire station on North State Street.

S.B. 2060 would appropriate $2 million to the University of Mississippi Medical Center to allow it to contract with the Jackson Fire Department for providing fire service.

The bill was authored by District 26 Sen. David Blount and has been referred to the appropriations committee.

“UMMC is a hugely important facility, and we need to have the best possible fire protection available for the hospital, the school, and the entire campus,” Blount said.

The funds would be awarded to UMMC by the state and would be awarded to the fire department as a one-time payment, he said.

The one-page measure does not say how the funds would be spent.

Blount said it would be up to the professionals with JFD to identify the needs, in consultation with the medical center.

JFD Chief Willie Owens said he would like to use the funds to build a new fire station along with North State, to replace the one located in the 1800 block.

That station, which houses a ladder and engine company, responds to fires at UMMC.

“It’s one of the oldest stations in the city. It was built in 1957 and it’s just outdated,” Owens said. “It’s the only fire station in the city that does not have a toilet in the engine room.”

“It’s also a voting precinct. When people are working those, it means they have to go inside the station and use the same (restrooms) the firefighters are using,” he said.

He estimates that the $2 million in the bill would be half of what is needed to rebuild the station. He said the fire station is also working with Blount to get an additional $2 million to help fund its construction.

Council President Virgi Lindsay supports the bill.

“We’ve been talking about this, Sen. Blount and I, and several other legislators, for a couple of years now,” she said. “This conversation started because UMMC has very specific and specialized needs when it comes to fighting fires.”

“They have research labs in basements... they have helicopters landing on roofs of very tall buildings... they have thousands of people in these buildings on any given day,” she said. “The funds could be used to help improve the fire station and purchase equipment to help with these very specific and specialized needs. I’m thrilled about that.”

It’s unclear when the bill has to be voted out of committee. The measure must pass the full Senate by Feb. 23, according to the State Legislature’s website.

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