Ceremony Batesville fire facility

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 15, 2016

Ceremony dedicates new Batesville fire training

By John Howell

The Batesville Fire Department celebrated the lives of two former chiefs with the Thursday dedication of its new training facility on Panola Avenue at Bright Street.

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The Broome-Florence Fire Training Facility was dedicated in memory of former Fire Chief Dave Broome and his sister, Elizabeth Florence, who bequeathed $50,000 to the fire department in her brother’s memory.

Broome served on the fire department for 47 years, Fire Chief Tim Taylor said.

BFD Engine No. 12, a $375,000 pumper placed into service in 2013, was named in memory of former Fire Chief Pete Horton.

With the $50,000, the fire department purchased seven used shipping containers that “truly a team effort,” Chief Tim Taylor said, turned into a multi-level, multi-room building where training scenarios representing different fire-fighting problems can be created with realism.

The structure will allow firefighters to practice on standpipe systems, enclosed and exterior stairways, searches of smoke-filled motel rooms and homes.

“They can go in and feel the burn,” Taylor said.

The team effort included welders from the city’s gas department who accomplished “99 percent of the welding” required to join the containers and cut necessary openings. The fire chief also cited help from other city departments including David Karr and wastewater treatment plant workers, Mike Ross and water department workers, Teddy Austin and street department workers as well as the firemen themselves.

Chief Taylor also expressed appreciation to Butch Jaudon and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Panola County Board of Supervisors, Lygunnah Bean and the Panola County Road Department and Joey Caine Construction.

“This building will allow our guys to hone their skills and have a positive effect on every firefighter who comes through here,” Taylor said. “The goal is that every firefighter goes home safely at the end of the day.”

Taylor also used the occasion to announce that the city would receive an Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) of $85,000 “to apply to burn props.”

Taylor’s remarks followed a welcome on behalf of the city from Mayor Jerry Autrey. 

Assistant Fire Chief Jackie Chapman followed Taylor to commemorate former Chief Horton’s service to Batesville.

Chapman said that he joined the fire department as a volunteer in 1981, becoming “a 30-year-old rookie” under Horton.

“I received all the love and affection that the only rookie could receive,” Chapman said, tongue-in-cheek, as he recalled that affection was often expressed as a “kick in the seat of the pants.”

Horton’s motivation was the South Panola school bus shop fire and explosion in 1980. Firemen suffered burns and broken bones, and considered themselves lucky to have escaped without a loss of life.

Horton plunged the then-all volunteer fire department into a training regimen that has continued ever since, Chapman said.