City to christen new fire boat and you’re invited

A bottle of Barq’s root beer will be smashed on the steel-plated bow of the city’s new fire boat this afternoon, marking the official arrival of the 33-foot vessel that Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney says is akin to a floating fire truck and ambulance.

The christening ceremony, which is open to the public, will take place this afternoon at 4 at the vessel’s berth near the boat launch at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor.

The aluminum craft replaces the city’s 17-year-old 27-foot fiberglass fire boat, and the new vessel is a dramatic upgrade in all manners.

The $260,000 vessel, which can operate in water as shallow as 34 inches, has water guns on its bow and stern with a firefighting system powered by a Chevrolet V8 engine that can deliver 1500 gallons of water per minute, compared to the 500 gpm of the current fire boat or the 1200 gpm capability of most of the city’s fire trucks. The boat itself will remain stationed on a floating dock at the harbor, able to be underway in 30 seconds once boarded and has twin 300 horsepower Yahama outboard engines that can propel it to speeds of up to 42 mph.

Said Boney: “It’s pretty much like putting a fire truck and an ambulance on the water.”

Firefighters will be moving from the existing open fisherman to a vessel with a climate-controlled cabin with two patient bays and capable of comfortably accommodating a crew of three with five passengers.

“This gives us the capability to go out safely in inclement weather,” Boney said. “The fire guns fore and aft can be operated remotely, from inside the cabin, and in addition to safely transporting patients, we’ll be able to work on them while transporting.”

The boat was constructed in the Northwest, by North River Boats, in Roseburg, Oregon, nearly 3,000 miles away from Biloxi.

“They are one of the few places in the country that builds fireboats of this size,” Boney said. “In fact, they specialize in police and fire boats and they’ve built quite a reputation.”

Several weeks ago, the vessel was loaded onto an 18-wheeler to make its 2,600-mile trip to Biloxi. Since then, Biloxi firefighters have trained on the vessel. 
See your invitation
Video: Take a ride on the Biloxi fire boat
Gallery:  See images of the fire boat progress


News and notes: Prayer, history, swimming, Red Tide

National Day of Prayer: The National Day of Prayer ceremony takes place today at noon at Biloxi City Hall. For more info, click here.

History comes alive: The monthlong Preservation in May series kicks off this afternoon at the northern section of the Biloxi City Cemetery. To see background and the complete lineup, click here.

Swimming lessons: Registration for the City of Biloxi Summer swimming lessons will begin on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon for Biloxi residents and Monday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for non-Biloxi residents.  Both take place at the Biloxi Natatorum.  To see the flyer, click here

Red Tide:  The Biloxi Aquatics Division will hold registration for its summer swim team, Biloxi Red Tide, beginning on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Biloxi Natatorium.  The team is open to ages 18 and younger and fees apply.  To see the flyer, click here