Tallulah crosses tracks with expanded firefighting equipment

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 11, 2002

Tallulah Fire Chief Fred Washington Sr. stands beside the department’s new fire truck in front of the city’s newest fire station, No. 3 on Johnson Street, which was officially opened Thursday.(The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

[01/11/02]TALLULAH People living on the south side of the tracks that run through the middle of this town no longer have to worry about a train blocking the way when a fire truck is needed.

Firefighters have started using a new fire station, the city’s third, at 1207 Johnson St. It also houses Tallulah’s third fire truck. Tallulah’s other two stations and their trucks are based north of the tracks.

“We’ve had a problem,” District 1 council member Charles Finlayson explained. “The railroad divides the town. Trains have gone from three to four a day to about one an hour. We’ve had a problem with trains blocking emergency vehicles.”

Mayor Theodore Lindsey cut the ribbon at the new station Thursday morning.

The building and pumper cost about $400,000, City Clerk Gerald Odom said. Tax revenue will be used to make payments on the 10-year U.S. Department of Agriculture loan that covered costs. Taxes will not have to be raised to pay the debt, Odom said.

Land for the new station was donated by the estate of Irene Minsky, Washington said. The building is the first new station for the city since 1975.

“I’m glad to get it open,” said Fire Chief Fred Washington Sr. “The people on this side of the tracks should be glad to have this station.”

The seven full-time firefighters and approximately 14 volunteers of the Tallulah Fire Department serve all of Madison Parish and respond to large emergencies in surrounding areas when requested by other communities, Washington said.

The new station is across the street from Tallulah Elementary School, within a few blocks of Madison Parish Hospital and a large nursing home, and eight blocks from Tallulah High School, Washington said.

Tallulah’s other two fire stations are downtown, at 504 East Green St., and on the west side of town, at 19 Massey St. Officials indicated that they may consider closing the downtown fire station now that the new one is open. However, that possibility has not been addressed by the city council, Odom said.

Madison Parish plans to begin operating an upgraded 911 dispatch center in the Tallulah jail in the next few months, Washington said.

In the meantime, the downtown fire station continues to be the initial point of communication for people dialing 911 to report fires. From there, the department communicates using direct phone lines to each of the two other stations and a paging system to call volunteers.