By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
County volunteer fire departments saw an increase in calls and activity during 2011 but no particularly devastating events, Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said.
“We haven’t had anything really bad this year in terms of fires or accidents, but it’s been a busy and productive year in the county fire departments,” he said.
The seven departments — East Oktibbeha, Maben, Adaton, Central, Bell Schoolhouse, District Five and Sturgis — saw an increase in medical calls in particular throughout the year. But thanks to increased training, the departments didn’t have any major incidences and firefighters were able to handle the emergencies that came their way.
In 2012, the county fire departments will look to keep up with aging equipment and apparatuses. Maintenance and upkeep at the 14 county firehouses is a constant work in progress.
“It will be a challenge because we’re always trying to keep up with the latest in fire prevention and protection,” Rosenhan said. “We have been very careful with the limited funding that we have. It’s a ... constant battle to upgrade our equipment, but thankfully we have the support of the board of supervisors.”
The East Oktibbeha, Bell Schoolhouse and Central departments will each receive one new truck to replace older vehicles. The new trucks were expected this year, but factory delays pushed deliveries back. Two of the trucks will be delivered in January, while the third is expected in May.
County firefighters will also increase their community outreach and education problems in the new year.
“We want to do some fire prevention education activities in the schools, churches and other groups,” Rosenhan said.
The county fire coordinator credits the men and women who volunteer their time and effort to keep Oktibbeha County safe.
“Any incident that we get involves kinfolk or neighbors, so it’s always personal for these guys. They’re ready and willing to sacrifice for their neighbors,” Rosenhan said. “We work just as hard as we can for anybody and everybody. Anybody we come in contact with has a problem; we would never wish ill on anyone, but when they do have a problem, we want to be the ones they call.”