Finding Trusty Firefighters

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The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors is looking at a plan used in Hinds County to train and use county jail inmates to help fight the county's house fires.

Sheriff Billy Sollie says only trustys, those serving time for non-violent offenses, would qualify.

"What we're looking at is, as these volunteers who want to be certified as firefighters become state-certified, they would be assigned to one particular crew we would have working here in Lauderdale County," said Sollie. "Eventually we hope to get up to five members of volunteer firefighters who are inmates on this one crew."

Sollie described how the process would work. "Let's just say they're out picking up trash and they hear a call of a house fire. They would immediately drop what they're doing and respond to the location of where the fire's at," the sheriff said.

"At this point in time, we only have one inmate that is certified as a firefighter. We're a long way from having a full crew. There is a process of classroom instruction and then, of course, the certification through the state fire academy," Sollie said.

Board president Joe Norwood confirmed the supervisors are considering the plan.

"What we need as a board right now is some documentation on how the program will work and what liability is it for the county," said Norwood. "Once we receive that documentation, I think this board will be ready to move forward that decision."

The Hinds County plan has been in operation for about two years with apparently effective results.