New fire trucks will be lean and ‘green’

Two new fire trucks will be joining the Biloxi Fire Department fleet in a couple of months, and although they’ll be red on the outside, they’re actually “green trucks.”

The trucks, at a half-million dollars each and scheduled to go in service downtown and in West Biloxi in November, are part of the fire service effort to diminish the chances of firefighters contracting cancer from continued exposure to carcinogens.

“‘Green trucks’ is a term that refers to the efforts to reduce carcinogens intake to the firefighters,” Fire Chief Joe Boney said. “The trucks are designed and built around that concept. We have special compartments to put their turnout gear and their air packs. The cab is designed with no fabrics that could absorb carcinogens. On the pump panel there’s a warm-water hose to decontaminate the firefighters.”

The new fire trucks, which will be at Stations 1 (Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center) and Station 5 (Bay Vista), are smaller and shorter than previous Biloxi fire trucks, with more focus on firefighter safety.

“They’re only 30 feet long instead of 34,” Boney said. “They are lower to the ground for ergonomics, to allow firefighters to access equipment without having to climb onto the truck. Slips, trips and falls account for most of our injuries. These trucks also will allow us to maneuver neighborhood streets better and more safely.”

When the fire trucks are constructed over the next couple of months and arrive in Biloxi in late November, it will end a process that began a year ago, when Boney appointed an apparatus committee of firefighters to suggest improvements that could be built into the design of the new truck.

Members of the apparatus committee: Firefighters John David Parker, Justin Lopez, John Massey, Cory Mooney and Jerry Worzella.

“We feel it’s important to hear from the new fire trucks are lean and ‘green’ firefighters about what we want to see in a new fire truck,” Boney said. “The majority of the year-long process in the delivery of a new fire truck is tied up in the design.

“You have to remember that it’s not like buying a new car,” Boney said. “There’s no show room where you just pick one off the display room floor.

“These trucks are built to our specifications, and the manufacturer has to make sure that every outlet and discharge device is right where it needs to be. Only about 60 to 90 days is in the actual construction.”

Right now, Boney and others in the Biloxi Fire Department follow progress, in part, through photos posted regularly by Ocala-based E-One, a firm that bills itself as a leading manufacturer of firefighting vehicles. In fact, you can watch the trucks being built at

The two new trucks join the existing BFD fleet of 14 pumpers and four aerials.

Besides being shorter than existing trucks, other frills will be absent, Boney said: No aluminum wheels, and red roofs (most are painted white).

However, the trucks will be equipped with two types of sirens: A typical electronic siren used by most emergency vehicles and a siren that emits a mechanical, wind-up sound, whose waves better penetrate the sealed compartments of today’s modern vehicles.

No bells, either. “Bells are expensive,” the chief said with a laugh. “They serve no purpose except for looks. That’s what we’re trying to get away from. These trucks are designed and built with the mindset of it being a work truck. However, we do have a truck with a bell. It’s a truck currently in Station 4, and we make sure that it’s in every parade we have.”
See the progress on one of the fire trucks
See the progress on the other fire truck