Tag Archive for: Union County Fire Department

NEMiss.News NAFD firefighter at Hillcrest house fire.


The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD), as well as assisting firemen from Union County fire departments, had a horrendous night last night.

A late night house fire in New Albany brought the shattering experience every fire fighter faces sooner or later: a victim was trapped in the house. Firemen made entry through a window in one end of the house and, fortunately, found the single occupant of the house that was trapped.

They were able to remove the 63-year-old woman from the flames, but she died a short while later.

It was a tough experience, particularly on some of the younger firemen. It was the first time someone had perished in a New Albany fire in over ten years.

The NAFD has become one of the best trained units in north Mississippi during recent decades, largely through the extraordinary efforts of now-retired New Albany Fire Chief Steve Coker and his successor, New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside..

Coker and Whiteside have overseen extensive training for NAFD firemen as well as hundreds of hours of training for fire crews in Union County’s several volunteer departments. The training has paid off in lower fire insurance rates for property owners and in an enviable record of rescues of folks who would otherwise likely have perished.

But you can’t win every time. Say a prayer for the victim of last night’s fire, her family and friends.

Pray also for our firemen. No firemen were injured removing the victim from the flames last night last night, but all of them are grieving.

Fatal housefire: https://newalbanyunionco.com/deadly-house-fire-saturday-night-takes-life-of-new-albany-woman/

NEMiss.News Union County group climbed 110 floors


Updated & edited 9-13-2022 with information and photos from New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside


Fire fighters from many north Mississippi fire departments climbed the equivalent of 110 stories of stairs to honor those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

6th annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb

The 6th annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, held Saturday in the BancorpSouth Center in Tupelo, was a way for firefighters and the community to honor the 343 FDNY (Fire Department of New York) firefighters who died in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside said this week. The Tupelo event, one of many similar events held nationwide was sponsored by the Tupelo department’s ladies auxiliary.


NAFD Fire Rescue at Stair Climb
Photo: Jacqueline Savoy Photography

Terrorists crashed two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center at the south end of Manhattan the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Public safety workers from throughout the city rushed into the burning buildings. There were the 343 firemen, 72 law enforcement officers and eight EMTs who died in New York that morning 21 years ago.

Each 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb participant paid tribute to the fallen FDNY firefighters by climbing or walking the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. In Saturday’s event, firefighters walked the center’s 2,200 steps, three complete trips up and down the, symbolically completing the firefighters’ heroic, ultimately doomed, journey to save others. Saturday’s event saw firefighters show up in everything from street clothes to carrying up to70-plus pounds of full gear to make the memorial walk.


New Albany and Union County participation

Twenty two firefighters from New Albany and Union County departments turned out for the event, Chief Whiteside said.

Those New Albany firefighters on shift who couldn’t attend the Tupelo event walked the New Albany High School stadium stairs during their shift. They walked up and down the stadium steps, then around the stadium, completing the entire circuit seven times.

Whiteside pointed out that some of the New Albany and Union County firefighters who turned out for Saturday’s stair climb weren’t even born when 9/11 happened.   “To them, 9/11 was just a history lesson, but Saturday’s stair climb helped them memorialize the sacrifice firefighters made that day,” he said.

The firefighters briefly turned on their personal alert devices twice during the stair climb, representing the times both towers fell.

The stair climb brought participation from more than firefighters. The event was open to the public, young and old alike. Anyone who wished to do the stair climb was welcome, and many did, Whiteside said.

NEMiss.News Thomas family climbed 110 floors

Shown are Ola Thomas, his son Eric, Eric’s wife Tammy and their son Will after they completed the Stair Climb Saturday. Climbing 110 stories of steps is an impressive feat at any age, Ola Thomas will celebrate his 74th birthday two months from now in November.

While most of those who climbed 110 stories of stairs Saturday were firefighters, some were not.

For the family of New Albany Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas it was a family event. Thomas, who is also a trained firefighter, was joined by his wife Tammy and their son Will, age 16. Also completing the 110 stories with Eric, Tammy and Will was Eric’s father Ola Thomas. A retired engineer, Ola Thomas will be 74 years old in November.

“If you completed the event, either at BancorpSouth or New Albany High School, wearing street clothes or full turnout gear, you got the best reward there is —memorializing those who gave their lives 9/11,” Chief Whiteside said.

Never forget.

Names of firefighters who did the stair climb:

  • Chief Mark Whiteside
  • Deputy Chief Mark Sides
  • Captain Allen Elder
  • Captain Richie Bryant
  • Lieutenant Shane Cowsert
  • Firefighter Brady Shettles
  • Firefighter Sam Murry
  • Firefighter Heath Brown
  • Firefighter Hunter Burke
  • Building Inspector/Firefighter Eric Thomas
  • Firefighter Shane McMillen
  • Ingomar Firefighter CJ Hill

 Family members who climbed with firefighters:

  • Tammy Thomas
  • Will Thomas
  • Ola Thomas
  • Becky Elder
  • Madison Elder
  • Kade Elder
  • Lilly Elder
  • Cohen White
  • Samantha Brown

Family members there for support:

  • Pam Sides
  • Hannah Mitchell
  • Liam Crocker
  • Karlan Brown



NEMiss.News Carl Martin's fire helmet



Several dozen firefighters joined the family and other friends of James “Pappy” Carl Martin for his funeral Thursday, July 7th, at United Funeral Home in New Albany.

NEMiss.News Firefighters at Carl Martin funeral

North Haven firefighters (L-R) Ricky Taylor, Ken Owen, Jacob Rainey, Chief Jeff McKeown, Ricky Robertson and David Williams were joined by retired New Albany Fire Chief and Union County Fire Coordinator Steve Coker for this photo in the funeral home lobby.

Carl Martin, age 63, died Sunday, July 3, at his Union County home.

He had been a volunteer fireman with the North Haven Fire Department for more than 30 years and had served as the North Haven fire chief.

The United States flag flew over Highway 15, suspended from a New Albany fire department ladder truck. Carl Martin’s funeral procession passed under the flag as it left United Funeral Home and turned north on its way to his burial place at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church at Cotton Plant.

NEMiss.News Ladder truck with Flag

The funeral procession passed under the American flag as it left the funeral home and turned north to Ebenezer Church.

The hearse was followed by more than a dozen firetrucks driven by firefighters from several Union County fire departments.

NEmiss.News Union County Fire trucks lined up for procession

More than a dozen fire engines from local fire departments followed Carl Martin’s casket to Ebenezer Church.

Follow this link to Carl Martin’s full obituary:





NEMiss.News Brush fire



Relatively dry conditions and high winds kept at least four Union County volunteer fire departments busy Tuesday afternoon. The county volunteer departments put out fires in structures, brush and grass from one end of the county to the other.

The most destructive fire was fought just across the Lee County line by equipment and personnel from the East Union and Alpine Fire Departments.

Near Ray Ray’s store in the 200 block of Highway 348 a shop building containing numerous electrical machine tools, a nearby metal shed, an RV trailer and other property was either a total loss or badly damaged. The shop owner had been using a metal cutting saw. He left the project to go to his house, and the shop was ablaze when he returned.

East Union and Alpine backed up fire fighters from Lee County’s Cedar Hill and Guntown Fire Departments in extinguishing that major fire.

Four pieces of equipment and nine personnel from East Union were involved in fighting the fire on Highway 348.

When East Union left the Highway 348 location, they got a call about a brush fire near a home on County Road 194 in the Red Hill community.

East Union Fire Chief Tim Hatcher said no one was at the home, but the call was made by a passer-by. East Union responded with the brush truck that had been at the Highway 348 fire and extinguished the fire in a stand of trees on CR 194.

In that instance the homeowner had apparently been doing some intentional burning a few days earlier and the earlier fire, thought extinguished, was rekindled by the gusty winds Tuesday afternoon. There was no damage to structures.

At the other end of the county the West Union Fire Department fought a grass fire on County Road 302. West Union was assisted at the CR 302 fire by the Pinedale Fire Department.

Then late Tuesday afternoon the New Albany Fire Department was dispatched to the Factory Connection Store at 128 Chrystal Plaza Drive. A motorist had driven a vehicle into the front of the building causing damage to the structure. Reports were that no one – occupants of the vehicle, people in the store, or bystanders – was injured in the incident at Factory Connection.

Although Union County is not currently under a “burn ban,” grass and brush are dry and stiff winds are expected to continue at least through Wednesday, February 16.  The National Weather Service has issued a strong caution against any kind of outdoor burning anywhere in North Mississippi.

Fire at the Snyder Bridge quickly extinguished: https://newalbanyunionco.com/construction-fire-at-snyder-st-railroad-underpass-quickly-extinguished/

New Albany MS Davis road wreck starts busy weekend

It’s been an intensely busy weekend for the New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) and county volunteer fire departments.

Two major motor vehicle accidents (MVA) today (Sunday), another major MVA Friday, a child injured in a fall from a horse Sunday, and a couple of fire calls kept NAFD and county volunteer fire fighters jumping.

There were also responses to fire calls Sunday inside New Albany and in rural Union County.

New Albany MS Hwy 348 wreck 10-20-2019

Emergency responders to a Hwy 348 accident had to remove a door from this vehicle to free one victim.

The first motor vehicle accident Sunday occurred just outside the city east on Highway 348. That accident involved two vehicles. Fire rescue crews had to remove a door from one of the cars to extract a victim, who was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County (BMH). It was not believed the injuries in the Sunday morning wreck on Highway 348 were life threatening.

The NAFD responded to second motor vehicle accident Sunday at about 3 pm at the Intersection of Interstate 22 and South Central Avenue. Upon arrival at the I-22/Central Ave. wreck, the NAFD found two victims trapped inside the motor vehicles. One injured person was removed from the rear seat of one car. The NAFD rescue crew used its extraction equipment to open a door and remove another victim from the front passenger seat. The victims were transported to BMH with what were believed to be non-life threatening injuries.

The Sunday car wreck at the I-22/Central Avenue interchange was the second one in four days at that busy and often confusing intersection. There have been numerous accidents at I-22/Central Ave. since the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) redesigned and rebuilt the interchange a few years ago. Many believe the I-22/Central Ave intersection design is a poor one, which often confuses motorists, even local drivers.

The car wreck Friday, Oct. 18, on Davis Road (CR81) at County Road 77 began the busy weekend and sent one victim to The Med in Memphis by helicopter. Additionally, one victim each were transported to Baptist-Union County and to the Tupelo hospital by surface ambulance; and a fourth victim in the Davis Road accident was taken to BMH by a private motor vehicle.

New Albany MS Helicopter landed

A transport helicopter landed on Davis Rd. to transport an accident victim to Memphis.

As fire rescue crews were finishing their work at the Sunday afternoon wreck at I-22/Central Avenue, they received a call that a child had been injured in a fall from horse at the arena of the Union County Fairgrounds. Fire rescue crews arrived at the fairgrounds and stabilized the child. A helicopter ambulance was called as a precaution, because the BMH surface ambulances were still working with victims of the I-22/Central Ave. wreck. However, ground ambulances arrived, before the helicopter, which was waved off. The child was transported to BMH with non-life-threatening injuries.

“This very busy weekend is just a prime example NAFD fire/rescue crews, emergency medical teams from Baptist Hospital, city and county law enforcement, and county fire departments working together to protect our citizens, visitors and neighbors,” said NAFD Deputy Chief Mark Whiteside.

Fire calls included on this busy weekend included:

  • Just before noon Sunday NAFD firemen responded to a suspected structural fire on Sawyer Circle. “When we arrived there was no visible fire,” said Whiteside. “When we entered the home there was a light haze and the smell of some type of electrical burning odor. We searched the entire house and attic with our thermal imaging cameras and found the television in the living room extremely warm.” The NAFD crew determined that the television had been the source of the smoke, and they unplugged it.
  • There was a reported structure fire on County Road 222 Sunday with East Union, Alpine and Center volunteer fire departments responding.

More about accidents on Davis Road: August Accident on Davis Rd. claims three lives

Union County MS Union County Board 19AUG2019 meeting

At the Union County Board 19AUG2019 meeting, approval of funding for volunteer fire departments and purchase of new handguns for the sheriff’s department were among the items on the mid-month agenda.

Two non-agenda items were considered in the early part of the Board of Supervisors meeting Monday morning, August 19:

  • Henry Cobb asked the board to consider building a community storm shelter in the extreme eastern part of the county near the Lee County line. The board took no action on Cobb’s request, as there is no funding available.
  • John Caldwell, a candidate in the August 27 Republican primary run-off for the office of Northern District Highway Commissioner, spoke briefly to the five supervisors and about 15 others. Caldwell, a Desoto County resident, led the Republican ticket in the August 6 primary with 31,953 votes (31.5%).

A reserve colonel in the United States Marine Corps, Caldwell had three combat commands in the Middle East and earned a Bronze Star. He was twice elected a member of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors. He retired as Transportation Director and Chief Emergency Management Director for the Desoto County Public Schools. Caldwell faces Geoffrey Yoste of Lafayette County in the August 27th run-off.

Union County Fire Commissioner Steve Coker reported to the board that $161,125 is available in funds from insurance rebates and the county fire tax for operations for ten volunteer fire departments that serve rural Union County.

Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards presented the board with a proposal to acquire fifty (50) 9-millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistols for the use of sheriff’s officers. They will replace handguns, mostly 20 years old and 40 caliber. Edwards said ammunition for the 9-millimeter Glock is less expensive than that used for the old 40 caliber semi-automatics.

The supplier is taking the used pistols in a trade-in arrangement. No tax funds will be needed for the purchase and all money will come from assets seized in drug-related arrests and convictions. The board approved the deal to acquire the new handguns for county officers.

Supervisors approved a $6,600-increase in a contract to Steel-Con Construction Company of New Albany for a bridge on County Road 194. While work was being done, it was discovered that an existing headwall had been installed, apparently several decades ago, without steel reinforcement bars. The additional $6,600 is to replace the headwall with a properly re-enforced installation.

The Union County Board of Supervisors will next meet on Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. The meeting is moved to Tuesday because Monday, Sept. 2, is the Labor Day holiday.

New Albany MS Thomas Furniture fire aftermath

New Albany MS/Union County MS June 26- Thomas Wholesale Furniture fire aftermath:

Twelve hours after the huge fire was “knocked down” but not totally extinguished, firemen and fire inspectors were still on the scene at Thomas Wholesale Furniture.

New Albany MS Thomas Furniture fire melting steel

Chris Whiteside, assistant New Haven Fire Chief, shot this photo around 6 AM. The steel had deformed as it began to melt. Most of fire was knocked down by this time.

Fire crews had been on site for about 18 hours when most of these photos were taken by an NAnewsweb.com photographer early Wednesday evening.

Inspectors from the Mississippi Fire Marshall’s office and private experts hired to assist the fire marshal were on the scene mid-morning Wednesday to define fire aftermath and investigate causes.

New Albany MS Fire investigators

Inspectors from the Mississippi Fire Marshall’s office were on the scene to assist with investigation of the fire.

An employee from a Little Rock, Arkansas private contractor said his company works with the state fire marshal’s office. Among other things the contractor had set up devices that were continuously taking air samples around the perimeter of the property. The private contractor employee, who declined to give his name, said the air samples gathered by the instruments could help in determining the cause and circumstances of the huge fire.

New Albany MS Thomas fire Investigation instruments

Devices placed on the perimeter of the fire take air samples to help determine causes of the fire.

The blaze destroyed more than a million square feet of building space.

The first fire-fighting crews and equipment arrived on the scene at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, June 26, to find fire already “coming through the roof and out opening in the building,” according to Deputy New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside.

Whiteside said that, in addition to New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) firefighters and equipment, personnel and equipment from every one of the county’s volunteer fire departments helped combat the fire.

There were no serious injuries although a number of firemen received first degree (and possible second degree burns) from being near the massive fire.

One industry source says the average fire temperature of burning buildings is about 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Ordinary carbon steel starts to melt at about 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. All fire fighters are threatened with burns and other injuries when fighting such blazes. Especially vulnerable are the fireman on the long extension ladders that stretch over the top of the blaze and pour water over the fire less than 50 feet below them.

NAnewsweb.com was the only news organization at the scene when the fire was at its peak around 2 am. Wednesday morning. Ours story with photographs was the first one published about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and has remained the principle source of news about the fire throughout the day.

We returned to take more photos of the the fire aftermath Wednesday afternoon.

New Albany MS Fireman Blake Smith face burn

Blake Smith, of the North Haven Fire Department, was one of the firemen still on the scene as dusk was falling Wednesday night. Burns on his face testify to the ferocity of the fire.

Blake Smith of the North Haven Fire Department was one of the firemen still on the scene as dusk was falling Wednesday night. He and other firemen were continuing to pour water and fire suppressant chemicals on “hot spots.” Smith was one of the firemen who received First Degree burns while fighting the fire early Wednesday morning.

More information about the causes of the fire may become available in coming days and weeks and will be published here when known.

NAnewsweb.com’s early coverage of Thomas Furniture Fire.

[videopress ddDgqnAJ] [videopress ddDgqnAJ w=”600″]
American furniture fire 1

For the second time in a little more than a year, Union County firemen fought a major fire at an Ecru furniture manufacturer.

About 5PM Thursday, February 14th, seven Union County fire departments responded to the fire call at American Furniture Company in Ecru.

In the early morning of January 5, 2018, firemen were called to a massive blaze at American. That fire involved several buildings at American Furniture, and was fought at temperatures of 18 degrees, over a two-day period.

Ecru fire, American Furniture

American Furniture Company, Ecru. 2-14-19
Photo courtesty of Terry Thompson.

The fire today, Thursday February 14th, is believed to have been less extensive than  the one in January 2018. Firemen and equipment from Ingomar, Southeast, Center, Northeast, West Union , Pinedale and New Albany fought today’s fire.

American Furniture fire, January 2018: http://nanewsweb.com/ecru-furniture-company-fire/

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.