Fire department leaving Tunica as casino revenue declines

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Rural Metro Fire Department announced it will leave north Tunica County, Mississippi at the end of May, due to declining revenues from the casino industry in the county.

The retraction of the gaming industry has reduced the tax base below what the district required to maintain service, the company said in a news release, and a subsidy from Tunica County that had made up the deficit in the past year will no longer be forthcoming.

Rural Metro said the county dissolved the North Tunica County Fire Protection District.

Just this week, Resorts Casino announced it would close in June, becoming the latest casualty in the Tunica County industry.

Stanley R. Jones, the Chair of the District’s Board of Commissioners, said Rural Metro had provided fire services in the casino district for more than two decades. As revenues from the casino declined, he said staff had worked for months at a time without pay.

“Rural Metro has at all times displayed the highest degree of professionalism and worked cooperatively with the Board of Commissioners towards providing quality, effective and efficient service within the District,” Jones said in the release. “The success the District has enjoyed is the result of the work of Rural Metro and its dedicated staff.”

There is still fire protection in the area from a volunteer fire department about 10 miles south of the casino district, and mutual aid is possible with a department in Walls, Mississippi, the company said.

Firefighters are applying to other area fire departments.

Rural Metro said it responded to about 300-400 calls a year in the casino district.

The company, headquartered in Arizona, says it provides fire, rescue and emergency medical to communities in five states and to industrial complexes and airports in five others.

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