Meridian, Miss. Change is coming to the Lauderdale County Fire Service after the Board of Supervisors recently came to a consensus to not reinstate Recruitment Coordinator Keith Reed at the beginning of a new budget year. Several members of fire departments that fall under the county fire service, gathered at Bonita Lakes Sunday afternoon to voice their concerns to Newscenter 11 about what would happen when Reed is let go.
"It was brought to our attention that 3 out of the 5 county supervisors decided that we no longer need Assistant Fire Coordinator Keith Reed," Alamucha 4 Shelby Alphin said. "He plays a very vital role in our education and in the safety of our county. I don't think they understand the amount of problems that will cause when they take him out of office."
The two supervisors who expressed their support for Reed are President Josh Todd and district five supervisor Kyle Rutledge, who both understand the importance of having Reed. Todd tells me that Reed's official title is Recruitment Coordinator, but that he wears many hats and many of the volunteers aren't happy with this decision.
"My feelings toward the supervisors are disgusted, the things they are trying to do to some of the fire coordinators that we have," Toomsuba 6 Larry Mosely said. "Like she was saying, without FS2 it would be hard for Allan and Wayne to run it. Some of the stuff they do in a day or time, five men couldn't do it."
Those in attendance say that they understand they aren't getting all the equipment requested in their budget this year, but ultimately the loss of Reed will result in high insurance premiums for county residents thanks to the lack of training of firemen.
"If we don't have the equipment or the means necessary to respond to a house that's in need for a fire, EMS, or whatever, we're going to end up having our rating bureau charging us more on our homeowner's insurance." Suqualena Fire & Rescue Odie Barrett said.
Members of the respective fire departments say to get their voices heard, they will take any means necessary, such as blocking all the streets to the courthouse in a form of protest. When asked for his response on the situation, Todd simply stated, "Sometimes for people to listen you have to do things to get your voices heard." If the supervisors don't reverse their decision, Reed's last day will be October 1st.
Numerous volunteer fire department members who were in attendance, told Newscenter 11 that if this did happen they would quit their respective departments. Todd however simply stated that he doesn't believe that will be the case because it's in each and every one of their hearts to help the community when it's in need.
The fire departments ask for help from the community in reaching out to supervisors in overturning this decision.