Oscar Renda Adds Crews to North Contract, more Biloxi News

From:  City of Biloxi   3/7/18   GCN

The firm handling the infrastructure work on 55 miles of streets north of the CSX Railway in east Biloxi has added more than three dozen more workers, a 33 percent increase in manpower, since the beginning of the year, Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard reports, and an additional subcontractor is coming aboard to help keep the project moving.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich “has worked to find a way to speed up this project, within the terms of the contract,” Leonard said, “and we’re pleased that Oscar Renda Contracting has added four work crews, totaling 41 laborers, since January, and we understand an additional subcontractor, Lane Construction, also will be on the job.”

Added Leonard: "These are very positive indications that work progress will be picking up pace."
In December, Oscar Renda had a total of 126 workers on the “north contract,” including 97 laborers. That number has steadily increased, to 167 today, including 138 laborers.

“Mayor Gilich has tried to take steps to alleviate this huge inconvenience since the day he took office,” Leonard said. “The first step was to get some temporary paving down on major thoroughfares, which we did. The next step was to get FEMA reimbursement s to the city quicker, which we did, and the next step was to see more real progress, which we are doing.” Leonard said.

In its latest monthly video of progress, Oscar Renda reports that pavement has been installed on all streets east of Lee Street, and sewer and drainage work continues on most other streets.

“The issue,” Leonard said, “has been that the work zone is such a huge area. It was totally disruptive. That’s why you don’t see wholesale demolition on the south contract, which we began several weeks ago. Work of this magnitude is going to be inconvenient, no doubt, but our goal is to minimize the inconveniences and tighten the amount of time between a road being torn up and repaved.”

See the latest Oscar Renda video of progress

Fire Department conducts live-burn training exercise

Biloxi firefighters set a house ablaze this morning in North Biloxi and stood by as it became fully engulfed and burned to the ground.

It was part of a live-burn training exercise in which firefighters gained real-time, real-fire experience.

“The wholesale burning of the house was only part of the exercise, the most dramatic part,” said Fire Chief Joe Boney. “But our firefighters have been training for weeks in this vacant house on Camp Wilkes Road. They did smoke testing weeks ago. They set fires in two separate rooms of the house this morning and practiced attack, and after that exercise was completed the entire structure was set on fire.”

The 1960s-era home, which stood on a large vacant lot, was fully engulfed 11 minutes after firefighters set the blaze at its north end, and was burned to the ground less than a hour later. “The wind from the north really pushed this fire,” Boney said.

It was the first real house fire for a handful of firefighters of the dozens on the scene throughout the morning. Two firefighters received minor injuries - a twisted ankle and a superficial burn - during the initial phases of training.

“From a training standpoint, this exercise did everything we wanted it to do,” Boney said. “Our firefighters received real-time training in a real-time fire. It’s invaluable for our firefighters – new ones and veterans – because it gives them expertise in situational awareness, which is the No. 1 factor in saving lives on the fire ground. Over the next several days and weeks we’ll be reviewing how things went, how the fire evolved and how we can improve our firefighting tactics.”

Video: See the pre-exercise safety briefing
Video: See the actual fire, Part 1
Video: See the actual fire, Part 2
Gallery: A host of photos from the scene