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Oct 05

Fire Service Extension Project for Annexed Areas

Posted on October 5, 2023 at 9:33 AM by Melitta Duncan

It was and still is very important to me to keep the promises made from past annexations and provide the same public safety services throughout our city.  We started the initial planning of this massive project in 2014 and I’m happy to report that we will finish it within a few weeks!


Annexation can be controversial, but it should be beneficial for both the annexed area and the annexing municipality.  One of these benefits is improved fire protection as commonly many rural volunteer fire departments do not have the resources, response times, water capacity, and overall ratings that city departments have.  For example, Southaven is rated a “Class 3” by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau (1-10 rating scale with lower being better).  There are only 5 other departments in the state out of a total 757 fire districts that have a rating this high.  Gulfport is the only one that has a better rating than Southaven at a “Class 2”.  We expect to improve to this “2” rating as well when our Fire Station #5 is completed in 2024.  Obviously, public safety is the #1 benefit of receiving primary response from an excellent city fire department, but also with this comes significantly-lower property insurance premiums for many areas.


In years past, prior to the current City administration, several areas were annexed by the City of Southaven.  Shortly after our Board of Aldermen and I went to work for the City, it was brought to my attention by our Fire Chief and Utilities Director that these one-time rural areas did not have water lines as large as the rest of our city.  To maximize the potential of our modern fire pumpers, these areas needed fire hydrants and water lines large enough to provide adequate water capacity.  This became a priority to fulfill our obligation to these new areas of our city and replace all 4” lines with 12” lines.


After mapping, designing, and allocating adequate funding for the project, the first phase of this six-phase project went under construction in 2017.  Phases 1-3 were completed in 2018 which included areas on Church, Starlanding, and Swinnea roads.  Phase 4 for areas along Malone Road was completed in 2019.  After experiencing severe supply chain and inflationary challenges with materials, the fifth and sixth phases servicing the northwestern end of our city near and including the Grandview Lakes subdivision, which also required the installation of new lines crossing Horn Lake Creek, is wrapping up completion now.


The cost of this entire project was approximately $7.4 million and was funded without debt by surpluses in our Utilities Fund planned exactly for projects like this and other emergency water and sewer infrastructure needs.