Biloxians to get first look at new fire stations Thursday

The City of Biloxi will host open houses at two new fire stations – one to serve East Biloxi and another to serve the Woolmarket area – on Thursday in what leaders are calling a milestone occasion.

The East End station on Howard Avenue – known as Station 2 and named in honor of fallen firefighter Kurt Jacquet – will be dedicated at 11:30 a.m., and the Woolmarket station – known as Station 9 and on Oaklawn Drive off I-10 – will be dedicated at 4:30 p.m.

The public is invited to both dedication ceremonies and may tour the stations afterward. Neighbors at both stations have volunteered to provide refreshments.

Fire Chief David Roberts, whose 176-member department saw a 24 percent increase in emergency calls last year, says this is probably the first time since the 1930s that the city has constructed and opened two new fire stations at the same time.

The 6,882-square foot stations, built at about a million dollars each, which were designed by architect Mark Williams of Williams and Associates, PA of Biloxi. The East End station was constructed by Starks Contracting Co. of Biloxi and the Woolmarket station contractor was KEL Construction Co. of Saucier.

The stations, which are similar in appearance, are designed to withstand 155 mph winds, sleep up to eight firefighters, and feature two drive-through engine bays.

“These stations were built for longevity,” Roberts said. “Typically, buildings are built to withstand winds of around 110 mph, but these are built to 155 mph standards. In addition, the design of the stations – things like the layout of the sleeping quarters the kitchen – was based on input from the firefighters who will be working in the stations.

“We’ve had favorable comments from the neighbors at both locations,” Roberts said. “In fact, we’ve had people call to ask when we were opening them because they wanted to bring food and soft drinks for an open house.”

The stations, built for about a million dollars each, also employ state-of-the-art electronic communications systems and have uninterrupted power supply systems capable of fully powering each station in the event of an emergency.

The East End station replaces an adjoining, aging station. The new station will be equipped with one fire truck and staffed by 12 firefighters, who will work in three shifts. The Woolmarket station will be equipped with a fire truck and a tanker truck designed to battle fires in rural areas. The Woolmarket station will be staffed by 15 firefighters who will work in three shifts.