By Ray King

A tradition of shooting fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the new year was hampered by rain Friday and Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell said Friday he expected some of that tradition to take place, if not on New Years Eve, then New Years Day and over the weekend.

Howell also called for those who do shoot fireworks to practice safety.

Howell appeared on the Oldies 101.3 morning show and said finding and retaining firefighters is still a challenge and efforts continue to be made to improve salaries. He was asked about those efforts, particularly since tax revenue from the Saracen Casino is expected to provide several million dollars in new revenue.

He said that even with the emphasis on improving salaries for firefighters and police officers, the city has a number of other needs and the mayor and other city officials have recognized those needs and are working to try and improve things.

Earlier in December, a man was killed and two paramedics were wounded when they responded to what was initially reported to be a minor medical call. Since firefighters also respond to a number of medical calls, Howell was asked if the incident had affected the way his department responds to medical calls.