EXCLUSIVE: Mayor Magee says LFD's 'lunch detail' not a valid excuse


LAUREL, MS. - Mayor Johnny Magee made a strong statement Wednesday after Laurel Fire Department (LFD) did not meet their mutual agreement to assist Jones County Volunteer Fire Department (JCVFD) during a Mother's day fire on Sunday.

In a FOX 23 interview LFD's Fire Chief James Brown said his firefighters were on a lunch detail.

The fire happened on Redbud Drive off Highway 11 around 11 a.m. Mayor Magee said, “It was definitely not a valid excuse to be on lunch and not respond to a fire call."

Laurel firefighters told volunteers to call back in 15 minutes if the situation continues to get worse.

“What happened is, that we have, a truck that was out onto lunch at that particular time" said Chief Brown.

He continued, "Which is the cover truck that would cover in place of Engine 2. Engine 5 was the truck that was out. Engine 2 was covering for Engine 5 at that particular time."

Chief Bown said he had 17 firefighters working on Sunday.

Mayor Magee said, “It makes absolutely no sense to tell somebody that is calling you for assistance that they need to call back or they need to wait until you got somebody back off lunch break."

According to Chief Brown his firefighters did not respond to any other fire calls on Sunday.

"So in that particular evening with what was happening at that time, the Battalion Chief who was on call at that time, delayed in sending the truck due to the cover truck that was out during that particular time, lunch detail" Chief Brown said.

Mayor Magee said the city is looking into the matter very seriously.

“We are definitely looking into the situation, I have asked the Fire Chief for a written report on this and we will take the appropriate action" he said.

Jones County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna said the fire was intense and his firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion.

"The outcome of the situation would not have made a difference, although the extra hands would have helped" said McKenna.

Chief Brown said, "They (city firefighters) are going to stop what they are doing and answer that call and respond to it."

"That is what we are putting in place right now to make sure this will never happen again" Chief Brown said.

“It will not happen again under my watch" said Mayor Magee. He added, "If it does someone will be looking for employment somewhere else."

According to Magee, McKenna wrote a letter to the him stating they will continue to abide by their mutual agreement and assist city firefighters.

There were no serious injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

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