By Josh Presley
The Northeast Union Volunteer Fire Department is once again looking for sponsors for its fire-prevention programs.
With Mississippi ranking among the highest in the country in fire deaths, Dan Richey, assistant chief with the department said that fire-prevention programs are a must at local schools.
“In our fire-prevention programs we talk to a lot of elementary schools,” Richey said. “If you can teach small children fire prevention they go home and tell their parents.”
The department brings along its Mobile Fire Safety Smart House trailer and some of the basic fire prevention techniques they discuss are smoke alarms, exit drills in the home, and now kids should never play with lighters.
Richey said the department starting doing these programs with local schools seven years ago.
“We started getting figures about how Mississippi was ranked one of the lowest with fire safety, so we decided to get some kind of educational program going that we can do in the schools and we purchased the trailer to use as the smart houses with a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.”
The department does programs in Benton, Tippah, Union, Pontotoc, and Prentiss County.
“We did a total of 13 programs last year and we did 11 the year before,” Richey said. “We spoke to 1000 more kids last year than the year before, so it’s been growing.”
Not only does the department use the trailer for educational purposes, but it can also be used for instant command purposes in the event of an emergency.
“Four years ago when the tornado ripped through Highway 30 East, we kept the trailer open as a command post for six days,” Richey said. “We had food, water, and anything people needed, 24 hours a day.”
The trailer is also set up to do tornado drills as well, and in the spring the department can come do tornado education programs at schools and churches.
He said for the first three or four years all the money for the fire-prevention programs and materials was coming out of the fire department’s budget. Then they realized that if they got the community involved they could go back to spending their money on things needed for the fire department, and let the sponsorship money pay for the programs. They are looking for the sponsors to help purchase the handouts we give out, which include pencils, bookmarks, puzzle books, and water bottles.
“If anyone wants to sponsor we’ll send them a sponsorship packet,” Richey said. “A $500 sponsorship gets an 18×36 sticker on the side of our trailer, at no extra cost to the sponsor.”
He said individuals can also be sponsors, and the department only uses the money for their fire education programs.
“Farm Bureau has been a great sponsor for four years, along with Bank of New Albany and Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County for two years each,” Richey said. “We already have six fire prevention programs lined up this year with more to come and we’ve taken our smart house as far as Holly Springs. I’m not scared to take that trailer anywhere.”
Anyone interested in being a sponsor should contact Dan Richey at 662-534-6878 or 662-316-6626.