(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 10:39 AM
Six people were recently hired to serve as firefighters for Cameron Parish Fire District 10, something that one local official said will improve response and service in Johnson Bayou and Holly Beach and lower fire insurance premiums.
Rhonda Morrison, the district’s secretary, said Tuesday that the six were chosen from a group of 18 applicants, and that three are from Cameron. She said they will take part in a six-month certification program in Lake Charles, starting Aug. 1.
Once they are certified, Morrison said, two firefighters will rotate working five days each week. One will work out of the Johnson Bayou station, and the other will work at the Holly Beach station. She said the Holly Beach station will be modified with nighttime sleeping quarters for both firefighters.
The district now has a Property Insurance Association of Louisiana fire rating of Class 6, according to Morrison. Fire districts are graded on a scale of 1-10, with one being the best and 10 the worst.
Morrison said the district hopes to lower its rating to a Class 3 or 4 once the firefighters are certified. She said the district has largely relied on volunteers to fight fires. There are about 20 volunteers on the district’s roster, with 10 of them being active.
“Our volunteer response is very low because everyone has full-time jobs,” Morrison said. “It takes so many volunteers to make one certified firefighter.”
The district starts at the Texas state line and stretches east to the Cameron ferry and north to the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge. She said response can be an issue when only one of the two fire stations is manned. The Johnson Bayou and Holly Beach stations are “more than seven miles apart,” Morrison said.
“It will be nice to have that security to know someone can respond and at least control a fire until help arrives,” she said. “Our community supports this because they want the protection and the lower insurance rates.”
Morrison said the district still needs its volunteers to help out while the firefighters are being trained.
“It’s going to be hectic for the first six months,” she said. “Our volunteers still have to be very active and alert at all times.”