John Howell Sr. editorial 4/28/2015

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Como chief looks for subsidy for town’s firefighters

Como Fire Chief Randy Perkins, whose department’s firefighters were first to arrive at the fire that claimed the life of a five-year-old Thursday night, recently announced a fund raiser to provide token annual compensation for his volunteers.

Firefighters were “toned out,” Perkins said, at 10:37 p.m. and arrived eight minutes later to find the mobile home at Jimmy Jones Trailer Park, Lot 9, fully involved.

The 911 caller had said there was somebody inside. On arrival firefighters quickly learned that the young victim was likely in the trailer’s south end, the area most fully involved and where the roof had already collapsed.

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Firemen knocked down the flames within five or six minutes, Perkins said, and began trying to cool the structure to allow recovery. Sardis volunteers were also soon on the scene, “as usual,” he said, in the tandem approach the two fire departments have developed over years of close cooperation. The first firefighters to arrive deplete their energy within minutes, trying to knock the blaze down quickly. As more first responders arrive, they take up the fight and relieve them.

“You hit a fire like this hard and your guys get kind of zapped,” he said.

“I’d like to thank everyone who came out,” the fire chief continued, naming Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Cole, Coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge and other volunteer firefighters among them.

Perkins has seen it before, fires claiming lives, perhaps a dozen times during his 30 years as a volunteer firefighter. Several times the volunteer firefighters have been called to the same trailer park and another park in Como, where firemen have responded to fire and gas leaks at ramshackle trailers — “accidents waiting to happen,” Perkins said.

About that fundraiser? Volunteer firemen in Como are selling “Memory Foam” pillows to raise money that would provide token annual compensation — $5 per call, Perkins told Como’s mayor and aldermen at their April 14 meeting.

Most municipal fire departments are already compensating volunteers, he said. It doesn’t amount to much, but when the calls are totaled for one check each year, “It kind of helps you get out of bed at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning,” he said.

Memory pillows are $10 and can be purchased from any Como fireman or from Perkins at 662-671-0546.

In a separate fundraiser for money to buy equipment, Como firefighters are selling cooked butt roasts for Memorial Day. Again, contact Perkins.