Local firefighters, along with department leaders, represented our area well at the annual state conference of fire chiefs/firefighters association, in beautiful Gulfport this month.
Firefighters and department leaders from New Albany, Alpine, Center, Ingomar, Myrtle, Northeast, North Haven, Southeast, and West Union attended the conference. Well over 300 firefighters from all over the state gathered to fine tune skills, learn new techniques, see new products, listen to speakers from across the nation, compete against other firefighters in challenges, scholarships, awards, and seek leadership positions for state offices.
Local Firefighters elected to office in Association
New Albany Fire Chief, East Union Assistant Chief and Union County Fire Coordinator, Steve Coker, was re-elected to the position of Mississippi Fire Chiefs Association Northeast District Vice President. This position represents 13 counties in the northeast part of the state and is given the task of representing and coordinating all Chiefs and their departments in these counties. Coker has been instrumental through the years in achieving grant funding and growing both of he departments he is affiliated with, along with the organizations he is a part of.
New Albany Deputy Chief, North Haven Firefighter Mark Whiteside, was re-elected to the position of Mississippi Firefighters Association 1st Vice President. This position is a 2 year term, and represents all 82 counties in the state. With this position, Whiteside represents New Albany and Union County locally, regionally, and state-wide He also travels with a delegation each year to Washington DC, to the Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner where meetings are held with our nation’s leaders.
“Wow! is all I can say for being selected to do this. What an honor and privilege it is to be able to sit in this position. I am thrilled that our firefighters in the state have selected me to do this for another term, and I want to say how blessed I am to have a Chief, Mayor, and Board from New Albany that give me support to do this.” Whiteside stated.
Union County resident and retired Fire Chief for the Tupelo Airport, Norris Robbins, was elected as the Mississippi Firefighters Association Northeast District Vice President, covering the same counties as Coker. Robbins also has the tasks of coordinating all firefighters in the organization from the northeast district. Robbins has been a part of the Instructors Association, and a very active member in the Fire Chiefs and Firefighters Associations.
Local Firefighters receive awards and recognition
Other very important and impressive news and accomplishments from the conference were:
- Ingomar’s Erica Gregory was the recipient of the Ray Bryant Scholarship for the amount of 2,000 dollars, and also found out she may be eligible for additional funding through scholarship funding from another source.
- New Albany Deputy Chief/North Haven Firefighter Mark Whiteside received the Chief Officer Designation.
- Ingomar’s Eddie High was selected to receive and awarded a paid invitation for 2 to the Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN in October.
- New Albany Fire/Rescue was awarded and received a training package from the State Fire Academy worth more than 500 dollars.
“Training, competition, and networking are a very important part of what we do in the fire service” stated Whiteside. “To get so many firefighters and leaders together in one place at one time is so valuable and important for us locally. It gives us all a chance to see the very latest lifesaving equipment on the market, how others are working to improve their areas, and to give input in funding, finance, training, and safety.”
As part of the annual conference members and past firefighters that have passed away were remembered in a very moving and meaningful memorial service honoring their service to their communities.
The Northeast District is the strongest district in the State, and carries more members, with New Albany and Union County leading the pack. “What signal this sends to others statewide, is we are very serious about what we do, and we want to not only be a part of the team, but we want to raise the bar and be leaders in the fire service in Mississippi, and across the Nation” Whiteside stated.