Biloxi's fire museum sparks interest in the past

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For nearly 120 years, they've put their lives on the line to keep Biloxi safe from fire emergencies. Now, thanks to an $80,000 repair project, people can learn more about fire firefighters and their commitment to Biloxi.

The official re-opening of the Biloxi Fire Museum took place Saturday, marking a new moment in Biloxi's fire protection history.

The walls of the newly re-opened Biloxi Fire Museum are covered with relics and moments enshrined in history. Rhonda Wheeler was one of the first visitors. "It's beautiful too. I expected maybe not as much so it was a pleasant surprise," she said. For Wheeler, the visit was made even more special when she ran across a memorial marker. Listed at the top was her father's name, former Biloxi Fire Captain Franklin Simmons. "It's a good feeling. He was always my hero. It's just a very good feeling. It touches my heart. It touches my heart to see all these men," she said.

Many of the photos tell tales of firefighters who served at the turn of the century, and some closer to modern day.

The president of the fire museum board is Richard Murden. "I am very proud. I am a collector and all the toys in here were stuff that I had," Murden said.

Items like a water hose cart which had to be pulled by hand are featured items in the museum. And how did the chief rally firefighters to a call early in the department's history? By bullhorn of course. It makes the current chief ponder a thing or two when it considers the equipment firefighters use today. "I look at it and wonder what it was really like back then," David Roberts said. "One thing that strikes me is how small it is compared to stations we have today."

Outside, current-day firefighters had a little fun with some re-creation of history on wheels. There were also a few others parked outside for people to enjoy. Whether outside or in, people seemed to enjoy themselves as they traveled back to days long past.

The Biloxi Fire Museum is on Howard Avenue, right across the street from the city's public safety center.

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