New chief Boney taps Dronet as assistant chief

New Biloxi Fire Chief Joe Boney, in one of his first official acts, has named a longtime deputy chief, Mark Dronet, as the No. 2 man in the Biloxi Fire Department.

“Mark knows things that I don’t know,” said Boney, a 29-year veteran of the department who was unanimously confirmed by the City Council on Tuesday. “Mark did an excellent job as acting chief over the past several weeks, and his depth of experience in the field of fire prevention is among the best in the state. As assistant chief, he will bring a great deal to the management team of the Biloxi Fire Department.”

Boney, meantime, said he hopes to fill other vacancies – especially his former battalion chief’s position, and Dronet’s Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention spot – in the next few weeks. He also wants to foster continuity and communication in the 140-member department, which has not had a permanent director since David Roberts retired in March, after serving 14 years as chief.

“I want to see a department where we remember the rich tradition of the Biloxi Fire Department,” Boney said, “and where we have a high level of pride and professionalism, and that we remember that we represent the City of Biloxi and that we serve the people of Biloxi.

“I also know that 75 to 80 percent of the people in the department have never been through an administrative change like the one we’re undergoing right now. This is new to them, and they may be scared. They don’t want what we’ve had, but they’re also scared of change. We’re all aware of that, but change can also be exciting and positive, and that’s what I want to see come out of this.”

Boney, who turned 53 on Saturday, holds the distinction of having never taken a sick day over his 29-year career. He began his career as a Biloxi firefighter in May 1984. He was promoted to captain in 1992, and 14 months later was named a battalion chief, a position he held until being named chief on Tuesday. To see Chief Boney’s letter of application and resume, click here.

Dronet, 49, has been with the Biloxi Fire Department for 26 years, having served as the department’s Deputy Chief for Fire Prevention for nearly half that time. The Biloxi native joined the department as a firefighter on Jan. 6, 1988. Eight years later he was named an inspector, where his role included investigating the origin of fires, reviewing construction documents, testing fire protection systems, and helping educate the public about fire safety.

Photos: To see photos of Fire Chief Joe Boney, yesteryear and yesterday, and Assistant Chief Mark Dronet, click here.