Biloxi, IP to host Southeastern fire chiefs

Hundreds of fire chiefs from across the South will be in town next week for the three-day Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs Conference.

The 88th annual conference will take place at the IP Casino Resort and Spa Tuesday, with nearly 200 fire chiefs and directors from across 10 Southern states attending.

“This conference is usually hosted by larger departments,” Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said, “but we showed the association that we have a lot to offer.  They believed that we’re uniquely qualified to host this conference, and we are excited for this prestigious honor.”

The delegates will be representing departments from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Theme of this year’s conference is “Disasters, natural and man-made,” and, according to the association’s website, “Biloxi is the perfect location for this type of focus due to the firsthand experience that so many of our incident managers and first responders from across the country witnessed after Katrina.”

Boney and his staff have set up a program that will include an expo with near 80 vendors, business meetings, educational sessions and workshops, receptions, a banquet and awards ceremony, and a block party, at the West End Hose Co. No. 3 Fire Museum, to be called “A Night at the Museum.”

“We have been responsible for the entire conference,” Boney said.  “We set up all the programs, the vendors show, seminars, entertainment and organized a Mississippi Night or ‘Night at the Museum’ event.”

The museum affair, open to conference participants and their family members, will be Wednesday evening at the West End Hose Co. No. 3 Museum on Howard Avenue and present a glimpse into the long history of the Biloxi Fire Department. There will also be live music, food and refreshments.

The department has also organized events for visiting spouses such as attending a Biloxi Shuckers game and a tour of the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art.

Said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols:  “We have a lot to offer these folks, and we’re proud to have them coming into our community.”