Biloxi Firefighters Train On New Fire Boat

Biloxi's new fire boat is creating quite a splash on the Mississippi Sound. The 27-foot Boston Whaler packs a lot of power with its twin engines.

Other gadgets on board are just as impressive. One example is the removable door on the side of the hull. It allows emergency crews to get a diver or a stretcher in during a rescue. It makes it a lot easier than trying to get them over the side of the boat.

The boat can pump1,000 gallons of water a minute. Biloxi firefighters are learning how to operate all the new equipment and how to fight a fire on the water.

Chief David Roberts says they can respond to boat fires, pier fires, and fires on buildings that are on the rear facing the water. It can also be used to supply water for fire trucks on land, search and rescues, and for the islands if they catch on fire.

The trick is to keep the boat steady. As one firefighter pumps water on the flames, the other uses a second nozzle to control the bow of the boat.

The Biloxi Fire Department has been working for years trying to get a fire boat. Then in January 2000, a fire over the Biloxi Bay prompted the city to take a serious look at purchasing one. That fire burned on the CSX railroad bridge. The Coast Guard had to be called in to help put out the blaze.

Chief Roberts says they didn't have the capabilities of getting out there, and the fire was on the creosote pilings on the bridge, so it burned pretty good. Biloxi firefighters are confident the new fire boat can now help them handle any fire emergency on water and even assist with fires on land.

By: Trang Pham-Bui