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Fire Department Candidates Share a Passion for Saving Lives and Building Connections

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Scenes of raging fires have dominated the news in recent weeks.

The men and women fighting these fires in the capital could soon receive much-needed reinforcements. JFD candidates hope to be among the next class of recruits to join frontline firefighters.

As Jackson firefighters battled the third recent blaze at an abandoned structure, others were excited to join their ranks.

“I just want it to mean something, a purpose,” Talous Freeman said.

The Bolton resident is applying to be a recruit for the next class with the Jackson Fire Department. The 28-year-old said he was ready for the challenge, weeks of rigorous training and being part of a brotherhood.

“You are just there for each other, go through these trials and tribulations, go through these buildings, go through these doors, go through these steps and you are going to come out on top. Keep God first and everything else will fall into place,” Freeman said.

On Wednesday, candidates met with JFD staff at the Sykes Community Center to learn more about career opportunities and requirements. Recruits must undergo eight to ten weeks of training at the academy.

“It’s been a lifelong dream. So when I heard about the opportunity to apply, I took it,” Hilliard Lackey said.

Lackey, 19, said he grew up at Fire Station 21 as a child and wanted to win the uniform.

“It gives you a sense of accomplishment helping people who could potentially be having the worst day of their life, whether it’s a car accident or their house on fire, things like that. I want to be the next person,” Lackey said.

A class of recruits started in January with 17. It went down to 14.

“We’re continually hiring people because we have people retiring, attrition in other different areas,” Jackson Fire Department Chief Willie Owens said. “So we’re just trying to make sure that we maintain our numbers so that we can protect people in the city of Jackson.”

The chief said 25 to 30 more firefighters were needed. The department currently has 320.

“We want good people,” Owens added. “We want people who are really, really passionate.”

To find out how to apply for recruited and certified firefighter positions, go to www.jacksonms.gov. Click on “Apply” for municipal jobs, go to job applications and search for Firefighter I trainee or Firefighter II for certified firefighters.

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