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Former Gulfport fire chief dies unexpectedly at 61

Michael Beyerstedt served as chief of the Gulfport Fire Department from 2011 to 2021 (Photo courtesy of GFD)

The Gulfport Fire Department announced the passing of former chief Michael Beyerstedt on Wednesday afternoon.

“It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of Michael Beyerstedt,” GFD said in a Facebook post. “Mike was a dedicated servant to the city of Gulfport and made a profound impact on the men and women of the Gulfport Fire Department during his time as Fire Chief. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Please keep his wife, Kelly, and all of their family in your prayers.”

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes weighed in on Beyerstedt’s passing, saying he was “gone, too soon.” Beyerstedt passed away suddenly Tuesday while on vacation with his family in Florida, according to the Sun Herald. He was 61 years old.

“Sadly, the City of Gulfport has lost a dedicated servant and friend,” Hewes wrote on Facebook. “Former Fire Chief, Mike Beyerstedt, passed away unexpectedly, but leaves a wonderful legacy of exemplary service, having made a profound difference in the lives of our citizens.”

After serving as fire chief in Jackson, Mich., Beyerstedt moved to Gulfport where he served in the same position from 2011 to 2021. Under his leadership, GFD became the first in the state, in 2018, to attain a Class 2 rating since the Mississippi State Rating Bureau was formed in 1924. That meant the fire department was in the top 2% nationwide.

Beyerstedt, originally from Indiana, was the former president of the Mississippi Fire Chief’s Association. He served in the Marine Corps and listed Harvard University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government among his list of many accomplishments. Post-retirement, he worked as an educator in fire service management at Columbia Southern University and as general manager of Windance Country Club in Gulfport.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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