Mayor proposes two new fire stations, Woolmarket improvements

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich will recommend on Tuesday the City Council take two huge steps toward following through on pledges the city made during its annexation cases.

The mayor proposes that the city, through an agreement with South Mississippi Planning and Development District, construct two new fire stations to serve north Biloxi and the Woolmarket communities, and borrow $7 million to fund long-promised water, sewer and drainage improvements in Woolmarket.

Neither of the proposals will require tax increases.

“These measures are the first step in making major, long-term strategic improvements,” Gilich said. “We’ve worked to pay down our city debt, so we would be in a position to make these moves. And the partnership with South Mississippi Planning and Development means we’re entering a lease-purchase agreement with the district, which we expect to result in savings in financing and construction costs.”

The $7 million would be primarily used to further extend city water and sewer service in the Woolmarket area, as well as make drainage improvements. The city has had an engineering firm working on a master plan for Woolmarket improvements for months.

Meanwhile, the two new fire stations, which would be constructed next year, would help bolster the city’s fire protection and response times in the north Biloxi and Woolmarket areas and establish permanent operating bases for the fire department in those areas.  

A station to be located on city property on Popp’s Ferry Road, just east of Cedar Lake Road, would provide a fire command headquarters north of the Bay and replace a location where firefighters have operated out of a mobile home and garage.

A second station would be constructed off Old Highway 67, east of Cedar Lake Road and Hudson-Krohn Road.

“Right now, we have an eight- to 10-minute response time for outlying areas of the city,” Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney said. “These two stations will allow us to reduce that response time in half.

“How important is that? When it comes to fires, a fire will double in size every three to five minutes, and on medical calls, which are two-thirds of our calls, every minute counts.”

The stations are expected to improve the city’s fire rating, which is already one of the best in the state, meaning lower fire insurance rates for homes and businesses. “But more importantly,” Boney said, “is the security of knowing that when you have an emergency we’ll be just around the corner.”
See the City Council agenda and supporting documents