Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and volunteer firefighter, visited the Exchange Club Thursday, Oct. 12, to discuss the fire department’s role in the community.
Since it was formed in 1977, the department has served to respond and protect lives and property in the county. Today, the Lafayette County Fire Department currently has 12 active engine companies ready to respond.
“Last year, we went to over 400 calls, and we had about 44 active structure fires,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.
Sullivan-Gonzalez asked the crowd, “How well will the Lafayette County Fire Department adjust to the demands of the growing county?”
Lafayette County’s growth since 2010 has been close to 14 percent, Sullivan-Gonzalez said, and is expected to see a population growth of 60,000 by 2025 and 70,000 by 2040.
Out of 70 percent of the nation’s firefighters that are volunteers, the average age of volunteers is 40.
“We have an aggressive social campaign and recruiting campaign that we are launching to recruit, train and respond to the needs of Lafayette County,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “We have got to become younger and cultivate a growing membership to respond to the need. Our hope is within five years that we are able to grow our volunteer force and to make it younger so that our average is 35 by 2025.”
The Lafayette County Fire Department’s average response time is about 10 minutes. At least six firefighters are expected on the scene within 14 minutes in a rural setting and within 10 minutes in a suburban setting, Sullivan-Gonzalez said.
“We appreciate the support that comes from our county residences, county supervisors. They have been very supportive with their support and resources,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.
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