The Mississppi Firefighter's Association was first organized as the
Mississippi State Firemen's Association by several municipal Fire
Chiefs who annually made a trip to Memphis, Tennessee after
World War I to attend the International Fire Chief's Association
Convention. The organizational meeting was held in Jackson on
February 15,1923 at the Central Fire Station on President Street.
The Mississippi State Firemen's Relief and Benefit Fund was
created at this meeting so as to provide compensation for the aged
and disabled firefighter. Also, the Association's Constitution and
By-Laws was adopted. Chief J.L. Lawrence of Laurel served as
Temporary Chairman of the Association until the election of
officers. Those in attendance of this meeting were: J.W. Wilks, T.J.
Croften and Red King of Vicksburg; W.G. Worthen of Meridian;
W. Hodskins of Yazoo City; E.V. Donovan of Greenville; V.B.
Eaton of Hattiesburg; and L.F. McDonald, A.J. Cannon and several
other firemen of Jackson. L.F. McDonald of Jackson was elected
President by an unanimous vote. Also, elected were W. Hodskins
as First Vice-President, J.W. Wilks as Second Vice-President, and
W.G. Worthen as Third Vice-President; and A.J. Cannon as
The Mississippi Fireman's Relief and Pension Fund, a modified
copy of the Oklahoma State Pension Law, was enacted into law by
the State in 1924. In 1930 the State Of to Mississippi made it
lawful for counties to financially aid the fire departments; and, also
allowed the creation of Fire Districts within the State.
No date was set for the next meeting of the Association to be held
in Jackson. The records show no meetings were held in the next
The Association held it's 1931 convention in Jackson and elected
officers who were: L.F. McDonald of Jackson as President; Sam
Bellipanni of McComb, J.E. Guido of Natchez, T.B. Henley of
Belzoni and H.R. Wilson of Cleveland as Vice-Presidents; and A.J.
Cannon as Secretary-Treasurer.
The convention was held in Hattiesburg in 1932. The officers who
were elected: W.G. Worthen of Meridian, President; E.J. Barksdale
of Hattiesburg, F.L. Boteler of Jackson, T.E. Crofton of Vicksburg,
W.C. McClure of West Point, T.B. Henley of Belzoni as Vice-
Presidents; and T.R. Jones of the Mississippi State Rating Bureau
as Secretary-Treasurer. The State of Mississippi enacted its arson
laws during the 1932 session of Legislature.
At the Great Southern Hotel in Gulfport, the 1933 convention was
called into session. The officers who were elected: W.G. Worthen
of Meridian, President; E.J. Barksdale of Hattiesburg, J.L. Beaty of
Columbus, Sam Bellipanni of McComb, F.L. Boteler of Jackson,
T.E. Crofton of Vicksburg, G.T. Haskins of Cleveland and H.N.
Richards of Hattiesburg as Vice-Presidents; and T.R. Jones of the
Mississippi State Ratings Bureau as Secretary-Treasurer.
The convention which was held in Meridian on September 14 and
15, 1934 at the Lamer Hotel did result in the introduction of
beneficial legislation for the fire fighters of Mississippi. State
Senator James F. Waddell of Meridian and Meridian Fire Chief
W.F.C. Partin made a presentation on the "Two Platoon System"
and the Civil Service System. The membership of the Association
heralded both of the bills which created a two platoon system that
reduced weekly work hours of paid fire fighters of paid municipal
fire departments, and provided job security for the fire fighters.
However, the smaller municipalities in the state did not approve of
the two platoon system because of the economics involved.
President Worthen was reelected as were Barksdale, Bellipanni,
and Haskins as Vice-Presidents and Jones as Secretary-Treasurer.
The newly elected Vice-Presidents were R.W. Maxwell of
Clarksdale and W.C. Moore of Meridian. Due to his declining
health, Secretary-Treasurer Jones resigned his office on February
2,1935. R.H. Tucker of the Mississippi State Ratings Bureau was
elected by the Executive Committee to the vacant office.
The 1935 convention was held at the Robert E. Lee Hotel in
Jackson. E.J. Barksdale was elected President with J.W. Cameron
of Meridian, R.W. Maxwell of Clarksdale, J.W. Pressley of
Tupelo, R.S. Vatorres of Moss Point, and H.C. Williams of
Cleveland as Vice-Presidents; and R.H. Tucker was re-elected as
Cleveland hosted the 1936 convention. The main topic of the
convention was the wide spread of arson and the arson
investigations which were being conducted throughout the state by
the State Fire Marshall's Office. A Death Benefit Fund, not to
exceed $50.00 per family, was established for the families of
members of the Association. A proposal to establish a high school
course on fire prevention to be taught in public schools with the
text books being furnished by the State of Mississippi was
approved by the membership. President-elect Barksdale charged
the Association to assist in the organization and the training of
volunteer fire departments throughout the state. He requested that a
Fire Academy for the state to be established so that it could help in
the training of all fire fighters in the state. A Fire Prevention Year
Book was approved to be published, but due to some questionable
tactics which were used to sell the ads for the book, it was
abandoned and was not published nor was it ever mentioned again
as a project of the Association. E.J. Barksdale was re-elected as
President. The Vice-President elect were: J.W. Cameron of
Meridian, R.W. Maxwell of Clarksdale, R.C. Meeks of Corinth,
C.M. Ruett of McComb, and H.C. Williams of Cleveland. The
Secretary-Treasurer elect was R.H. Tucker.
On September 24 and 25, 1937 Laurel hosted the convention. This
was the first meeting in which a wide spectrum of Legislative
projects was presented. Resolutions that were proposed: to
establish state-wide Building and Electrical Codes; to start a
Central Fire School; to have the municipalities provide liability
insurance for emergency vehicle drivers; to provide for mutual-aid
programs between neighboring fire departments; to request the
municipalities to confer with their Fire Chief on matters
concerning water mains and hydrants; to follow suit of the Federal
Government and its adoption of one week in October as Fire
Prevention Week; and to lobby jointly with the Municipal Officers
Association, now the Mississippi Municipal Association, in
common Legislative actions. Elected as officers were; H.C.
Williams of Cleveland as President; C.S. Byrd of Jackson, J.W.
Cameron of Meridian, A.T. Neaves of Greenwood, C.M. Ruett of
McComb and C.S. Williams of Laurel as Vice-Presidents with
R.H. Tucker serving as Secretary-Treasurer.
McComb was the host city for the 1938 convention which was
held on September 21 and 22. The resolutions presented were the
same presented the previous year with the addition of an
evaluational program of the Fire Prevention courses being taught
in public schools. Changes were made in the Firemen and
Policemen Disability and Relief Fund so as to strengthen it because
both professions were exempted from the coverage of the Old Age,
Death and Disability Act (Social Security) by the Federal
Government and the State of Mississippi. A.J. Cannon of Jackson
was elected President and the Vice-Presidents who were elected to
serve being: Sam Bellipanni of McComb, J.A. Druetta, Jr. of
Natchez, O.G. Goodwin of Laurel, A.L. McClure of West Point
and C.C. Thweatt of Cleveland as Vice-Presidents and R.H.
Tucker as Secretary-Treasurer.
Although Biloxi offered to host the 1939 convention, it was not
held. The Executive Committee did hold business meetings with
President Cannon and Secretary-Treasurer Tucker present. The
State Fire School was established. During the 1940 convention at
Natchez it was decided by the membership to suspend the annual
conventions until after World War II. Without the convention the
Firemen and Policemen Disability and Relief Fund was revised by
the Legislature. Also, the Legislature passed laws that allowed the
counties to give financial aid to fire departments and laws that
created the Fire Districts within the counties were revised. The
Executive Committee did continue to make business sessions
which were conducted by President O.G. Goodwin of Laurel.
Those attending the business meetings were: E.J. Barksdale of
Hattiesburg, Sam Bellipanni of McComb, A.J. Cannon of Jackson,
F.K. Denham of Clarksdale, and R.G. Duren of Greenwood as
Vice-Presidents and R.H. Tucker as Secretary-Treasurer.
Vice_president Cannon died later in the year and was replaced on
the Executive Committee by W.G. Worthen of Meridian. On
March 24, 1944 the Civil Service Act was enacted into law when
Governor Thomas L. Bailey signed the bill. An emergency session
of the Executive Committee was convened when it appeared that
the Legislature would kill some of the benefits that the Association
had gained for the fire fighters of the state. Through the efforts of
the Executive Committee the benefits were not repealed. The
Executive Committee elected the officers of the Association for the
membership. Those officers elected were: President R.G. Duren;
Vice-Presidents Sam Bellipanni of McComb, T.B. Henley of
Belzon, W.H. Hutchison of Tupelo, and Leo Korndoffer of
Hattiesburg; and Secretary-Treasurer R.H. Tucker.
Meridian hosted the first post-war convention on October 7 and 8,
1946. The business conducted included the fight to maintain the
present benefits of all fire fighters and to extend the benefits of fire
fighters on paid fire departments. A State Fire College was
proposed by Chief L.F. McDonald of Jackson and it was approved
by the membership. President Duren was re-elected to office. The
Vice-presidents elect were: A.A. Hinston of Vicksburg, Leo
Korndoffer of Hattiesburg, T.D. Mayes of Philadelphia, J.B.
Sprouse of Clarkdale, and W.G.Worthen of Meridian. R.H. Tucker
was re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer.
Greenwood hosted the 1947 convention on June 27 and 28. The
new business which arose from the convention were the
establishment of the Ladies Auxiliary and the revision of
Constitution and By-laws of the Association. Officers elected
were: R.G. Duren of Greenwood as President; Sam Bellipanni of
McComb, Leo Korndoffer of Hattiesburg, A.Z. Lokey of
Greenville, T.D. Mayes of Philadelphia and R.L. Yarbough of
Meridian as Vice-Presidents and R.H. Tucker as Secretary-
Treasurer, who resigned in October due to ill health. His Successor
to the office was J.F. Barksdale of the Mississippi State Ratings
The Mississippi State Firemen's Association was chartered as an
incorporation on July 20,1948 when Governor Fielding Wright
signed the documents along with the proper signatures of Secretary
of State Heber Ladner and Attorney General Greek L. Rice. The
incorporators of the Association being President R.G. Duren,
Secretary-Treasurer R.H. Tucker and Chief L.F. McDonald of
The 1948 convention was hosted by Natchez. The Association
authorized the commission of a label button with the emblem of
the Association to be manufactured by the C.G. Braxmar Company
of New York. The State Legislature passed the mutual-aid of fire
departments, or the consolidation of Fire Districts for the smaller
fire departments. The officers elected were: W.J. Druetta, Sr. of
Natchez as President; Ray Bryant of Hattiesburg, Sam Bellipanni
of McComb, J.W. Cameron of Meridian, L.M. Garrett of Jackson,
and P.A. Lawrence of Greenville as Vice-Presidents; and J.F.
Barksdale as Secretary-Treasurer.
Cleveland requested and received the bid to be the host city of the
1949 convention. A newsletter "The Trumpet" began publication
so that the membership throughout the state could be informed of
the events which were happening in the state and what each fire
department was providing for its citizens in the way of new
equipment and techniques. J.H. Sullivan of Laurel was elected as
President. Those elected to serve as Vice-Presidents were: Ray
Bryant of Hattiesburg, Sam Bellipanni of McComb, P.A. Lawrence
of Greenville, J.W. Reynolds of Meridian and B.G. Weems of
Jackson. The Secretary-Treasurer, J.F. Barksdale, was re-elected.