In light of a citywide water crisis, officials say the Jackson Fire Department has enough water to respond to fires.
“By the grace of God we haven’t had any incidents in the area where we didn’t have access to water,” Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Armon said Tuesday.
Pearl River flooding has caused a system-wide outage of the water system that serves more than 160,000 residents. Water pressure was reduced for the entire city Monday.
On Monday night, Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency and said an incident center would be set up to distribute water to residents.
The fire department found some areas didn’t have water or pressure in its hydrants yesterday. Armon said as of Tuesday, the department has seen water pressure return.
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he has been in constant discussion with fire department leadership, including about its water reserves and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency’s ability to supplement the department’s water supply.
“We feel comfortable with our fire department’s reserves along with the support of MEMA,” Lumumba said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “If we meet the unfortunate circumstance of a fire, they would be able to continue.”
Generally, Armon said most water sources can be used to put out a fire. A pond or river could act as a water source as long as the department’s engine and hoses can reach it and debris is strained out before being pumped.
Armon said a portion of the fire department’s work is preparedness, including during recent heavy rains and flooding. Firefighters helped residents place sandbags to prevent flooding. The other day, he said a crew used a boat to help a resident retrieve necessities from their home in a flooded area, he said.
For the past few weeks since Jackson has been under a water boil notice, the fire department has distributed water to residents at its central station, Armon said. That distribution occurs daily at 2 p.m. at 555 South West St.
Armon said any situation that affects water access can impact firefighters’ ability to do their jobs. But he said the department is trained and prepared to work in less than ideal situations, including during a water crisis.
“We’re trained to work in chaos,” he said.