Florida building collapse sheds light on South Mississippi first responders

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 8:43 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - What happens if a building collapses in South Mississippi like the one we saw in Florida earlier this week? At the Gulfport Fire Department, they have a team ready to go not only for incidents here, but for all over the state.

The building collapse in Florida has caught the attention of Fire Chiefs and other first responders from around the state and region that are here on the Coast for an important conference.

“Through the Department of Homeland Security, we have a task force system,” said Chief Mike Beyerstedt, Gulfport Fire Department. “Down here in the South, one of my battalion chiefs is actually the head of Task Force Three down here, so inside of that task force quite a few of those firefighters are trained specially for structural collapse.”

That knowledge is something all fire chiefs like D’Iberville’s Gerald Smith keep track of and monitor, just in case.

“When you’re talking about a structural collapse, it could be a two stories, one story or 13 stories,” Smith said. “We would respond initially, but at the the same time, we’re gonna be reaching out to our partners in other cities and to the state.”

Obviously, best practices and building relationships are topics of conversation at the Southeastern Fire Chiefs Conference at the IP Resort and Casino here in Biloxi, but they’ve also been talking about that building collapse.

“It’s a fire conference so that’s something interesting to firefighters as well because it’s our profession and that’s the cool thing about this conference is you’re sharpening each other talking about best practices,” Beyerstedt added.

By the way, this week’s conference is also part of the 84th Annual conference of Mississippi Fire Chiefs.

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