Bradley County Works To Take Take Responsibility For Fire Protection Outside City Limits

Graduates New Firefighters Class

Monday, April 15, 2013
The last class of Bradley County Fire Academy graduates received their helmets Sunday and are ready to join the expanding County Fire Department in providing county-wide fire protection for all residents outside the Cleveland city limits. Interim Fire Chief Troy Spence (4th from right) and his command and training staff (in white) along with Dan Howell, executive assistant to County Mayor Gary Davis, (far right) participated in the graduation ceremony.
The last class of Bradley County Fire Academy graduates received their helmets Sunday and are ready to join the expanding County Fire Department in providing county-wide fire protection for all residents outside the Cleveland city limits. Interim Fire Chief Troy Spence (4th from right) and his command and training staff (in white) along with Dan Howell, executive assistant to County Mayor Gary Davis, (far right) participated in the graduation ceremony.

The Bradley County Fire and Rescue Department will assume responsibility for fire protection for all Bradley County residents who live outside the Cleveland city limits on July 1 at 8 a.m. A step toward achieving this goal took place in 2011 when the County Commission approved the 10-year fire protection growth plan.  

The Commission’s vote followed a report by a joint fire department consolidation study committee on the feasibility of merging the city/county fire departments.  It was determined that the $17 million merger price tag was not a good use of taxpayer funds and the decision was made to continue the build-out of BCFR.

Since 1993 the county has leased fire protection from the city of Cleveland and the city’s fire department has done a great job of protecting citizens in the five mile fringe area outside the city limits, officials said. Rural fire protection has been provided outside the fringe area by the county’s combination fire department consisting of paid staff and volunteers. On June 30 the contract with the city will expire and the lease payments will be used to fund the expansion of BCFR.

The first phase of the 10 year plan calls for three new county fire stations which are now under construction. They are located throughout the county and when complete the BCFR will have 13 fire halls and one training center. Five of the stations will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with full time, paid firefighters. The remaining eight stations will be manned by volunteers.  The three new stations are located on Minnis Road across from Park View Elementary School, Dalton Pike on the old Waterville School property, and on 60 Highway adjacent to Hopewell Elementary. Interim Fire Chief Troy Spence and his command staff say the goal is to have an “average” response time of five to seven minutes to anywhere in the county. 

A unique feature of the new fire stations is their ability to be used as community safe rooms in case of a natural disaster or other emergency. Each fire hall can accommodate up to 400 people and withstand 200 mile per hour winds. They are equipped with their own backup emergency generators and the FEMA approved buildings will be a temporary safe haven for residents when needed. 

The process of staffing and equipping the new fire stations began several months ago and is almost complete. In July of 2012 Bradley County had 26 paid firefighters. Fifteen were hired in March and 14 finished their fire academy training and graduated on Sunday. This class brings the total number of full time firefighters to 67 and complete the number needed to staff the BCFR expansion.  

The new firefighters undergo a rigorous hiring process, officials said. Each one must complete a written test, physical agility test, psychological test, drug screening, panel interviews and then complete 460 hours of training in Firefighter School. An additional two weeks of classes are required for fire truck drivers. When the new hires receive their assignments, Bradley County will have a total of 63 full time, paid firefighters who are backed up by 74 volunteers who must complete the same training as the full time staff.

Equipping the three new fire stations is also about complete. Three new custom-built tanker trucks are due to be delivered by the end of April. Each one will carry 2,000 gallons of water and capable of pumping 750 gallons per minute. In addition, three new engines will carry up to six firefighters, the equipment, and receive their water supply from the tankers. The engines are built to attack a fire and can pump up to 1,500 gallons a minute.

"We’ve come a long way since the early 90s when Bradley County leaders set a goal of providing good county-wide fire protection," said County Mayor Gary Davis. "The new Minnis Road fire hall was released by the contractor to the county last Friday. The Hopewell facility is due to be released by May 13 and the Dalton Pike fire hall should be complete by May 30.  County Mayor Davis continued, "On July 1 interim Fire Chief Troy Spence and his staff will be ready to assume responsibility for providing all county residents with a comparable level of fire protection they have had under the contract with the city." 


Collegedale's National Night Out Is Oct. 28

The City of Collegedale will be participating in its first National Night Out event on Tuesday, Oct. 28, on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Collegedale joins a growing network of communities. More than 37 million people representing cities and towns from all 50 states participated last year--in an effort to: heighten crime prevention awareness; generate ... (click for more)

"Memphis Belle" Takes Flight Over Chattanooga

The B-17 Flying Fortress known as the "Memphis Belle" has landed at the Collegedale Municipal Airport. This particular aircraft was built in 1945 and was used to ferry troops and equipment and was later restored by Dave Tallichet of the Military Airlift Restoration Company, in 1982.   Tallichet, a wartime B-17 pilot with the 100th Bomb Group, and his staff ... (click for more)

Architect/Contractor Selected By Erlanger For New Children's/Women's Hospital

HKS has been selected as the architect and McCarthy as the construction manager for a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the Erlanger campus on East Third Street. The Atlanta team competed against another Atlanta group for the major construction project. Erlanger officials announced Monday that $11.5 million is being set aside in a debt restructuring for the new $30 ... (click for more)

Westfield Charged In Burning, Torture Of Kitten At Cleveland

An arrest has been made in the case of a kitten who was burned and tortured in Cleveland, Tn. At 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary A. Westfield, 31, of Cleveland, was placed in custody on a warrant obtained by Lt. Robert Harbison and Detective Matt Jenkins of the Criminal Investigations Division. Westfield was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class E felony. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Election Day Fable

Every day I am peppered with emails that friends send to me from across the country so I am unsure of where the fable you are about to read originated. But with early voting for the November general election now in full swing, I think everyone who will -- or will not -- take part in freedom’s greatest privilege should read this story because I believe there is a great lesson contained ... (click for more)