By Jessica Bowman – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The search for a new fire chief in Gulfport will soon be underway. Former Fire Chief Pat Sullivan served the Gulfport Fire Department for 35 years and some say his shoes will be hard to fill. One Gulfport business owner shared some fond memories of Pat Sullivan.
Port City Cafe has been serving up local flavor in Gulfport for ten years. Owner Ernest Ulrich says former Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan has been a loyal customer.
"I'm sorry to see Chief Sullivan go," Ernest Ulrich said.
The cafe, which is located several blocks north of Highway 90, withstood more than 100 mile per hour winds, and the doors re-opened just ten days after Katrina devastated the gulf coast.
"About the end of October, we come down and the building beside us is on fire, and surely, I thought maybe that was us. I get down here, and I see the fire going on and there's Chief Sullivan on the corner," Ulrich said. "So of course he's the first person I want to see because I want to know what's going on and he puts his arm around me with a big smile and says, 'Hey; it's not you.'"
Ulrich says it was that intense moment that he gained a lot of trust for Sullivan and the men and woman of the Gulfport Fire Department for saving his building.
Ulrich said, "Hopefully, the next fire chief that comes in, he'll just pick it up with Chief Sullivan's leaving and just keep the momentum going because I think they do a great job."
When will the city fill the vacant position of the Chief at the Gulfport Fire Department?
"We plan to begin the search for a new chief as early as Monday," Gulfport City Spokesperson Ryan LaFontaine said. "That search will be done both within the department and outside the department."
Deputy Chiefs Jimmy Donlin and Billy Bragg will over see the department beginning Monday until a new Fire Chief is in place.