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Amid the iconic sound of bagpipes, a ceremony on Saturday in Meridian celebrated the graduation of 10 firefighting recruits, mostly from Meridian or Lauderdale and Kemper counties, who will serve the Kemper County energy facility.

“The fact that these recruits all have ties to the area is an example of our commitment to the Kemper project being a vital part of the communities in which we live and work,” Government Affairs and Community Development Manager Cindy Duvall said.

The recruits completed 24 weeks of joint training with Meridian Fire Department and the Refinery Terminal Fire Company, which is nearly four times what is required for the average firefighter in the state.

“These firefighters have been rigorously trained and will continuously work to increase their skillset,” Emergency Response and Fire Protection Specialist Ron Sommers said. “All of our generating facilities have fire and safety support trained to respond to any unlikely incidents on site, and this is another extraordinary example of our ongoing commitment to keeping employees and the public safe.”

The Kemper facility’s fire station will be located just outside the plant, and firefighters will   work a traditional fire department shift of 24 hours on and 48 hours off. The team will consist of one division chief, three captains and 12 firefighters who will operate three fire trucks.

Several of the recruits have local volunteer firefighting experience, three have been career firefighters and at least six are new to the profession.

“This is an important milestone for the Kemper project and our involvement in the community by providing an opportunity for these young men to have a rewarding, tradition filled career,” Sommers said.