New apparatus committee has its say in city’s new fire truck

The Biloxi Fire Department is looking to buy a new ladder truck during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, and the purchase is the first recommendation from a new apparatus committee empaneled by Fire Chief Joe Boney.

The purchase of the new truck – more than $900,000, paid for with Community Development Block Grant funds – is one of nearly two dozen measures on the agenda for the City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 at City Hall.

The new truck, which would replace a 22-year-old ladder truck that operates out of the Hart-Chinn Fire Station on Veterans Avenue, will be similar in design to the current truck, but the manner in which it was chosen is a milestone for the 110-year-old Biloxi Fire Department.

“This apparatus committee is made up of departmental personnel who use this equipment everyday and whose life depends on the reliability of these apparatus,” Boney said. “When we look to purchase new equipment like this, this committee is tasked with conducting its own independent research and to produce a written report of the results of the findings.  The recommendation of this committee culminates months of research, and I believe the result will produce an apparatus that is tailored to suit the needs of the city.”

The custom-built truck will be manufactured by E-ONE, a brand familiar to Biloxi firefighters and the city’s factory-certified mechanics who maintain them. Its ladder will be able to reach 100 feet in the air, or about 10 stories. Any fires above seven stories, Boney said, are fought internally and with the aid of a building’s sprinkler system.

Among the factors considered in purchasing the new truck: the size of the streets as well as the size and types of building within the unit’s run area; the tasks most likely to be performed with the apparatus (firefighting vs. rescue); weather and climatic conditions that may affect the operation and longevity of the apparatus, as well as multi-purpose use or versatility of the apparatus (can the apparatus also be used as a pumper if required?).

The truck would replace the department’s 22-year-old ladder truck. Boney said cities jeopardize their fire rating when using fire trucks more than 20 years old. The 22-year-old truck will be used as a spare truck, and a 30-year-old ladder truck now being used as a spare will be sold as surplus. The age of spare trucks, Boney said, does not impact the city’s fire rating,

Said Boney of the new truck: “The citizens of Biloxi can rest assured that the fire department does not take this purchase lightly, and we have taken all necessary steps to obtain the most precise and accurate information to purchase the best product available.  Above all, this apparatus will ensure lasting service, to serve and safeguard the citizens and visitors we are charged with protecting.”

Meet the apparatus committee: Members of the Biloxi Fire Department apparatus committee are Battalion Chief Steve Strickler, Capt. Clarence Parker, Mechanic Chris Bellais, and Firefighters III Shane Breland, Irvin Dement, Charles Hawkins and Derrick Gates.
See Biloxi’s ladder trucks in action (Vieux March fire, 2011)
See the City Council agenda and resolutions for Tuesday


News and notes

Mall trick-or-treating: The merchants of Edgewater Mall, the indoor shopping mecca with a million square feet of retail under roof,  will again open the mall doors to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. For details, click here.

Cemetery tours: Hundreds turned out Sunday afternoon to see graveside re-enactors on the annual tour of the Biloxi City Cemetery. If you missed it, the good news is you have a chance to take a free tour Tuesday between 4 to 7 p.m. To see what you missed Sunday — and what you’ll see Tuesday — click here.