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." 


Rheubin Taylor Honored By Freedoms Foundation Chapter

Longtime County Attorney Rheubin Taylor was honored by the local chapter of Freedoms Foundation. He served on the original Hamilton County Commission before being named county attorney.  The Chattanooga Chapter of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge National Awards Presentation and Membership Reception was held at the Harrison Ruritan Club.  (click for more)

No Lane Closures On Tennessee Highways During The Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving travelers will not be slowed by construction on Tennessee roads during this busy travel holiday. TDOT will halt all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state. All construction-related lane closures will be stopped beginning at  noon on Wednesday, through  6 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 1 ... (click for more)

2 Chattanooga Bounty Hunters In Jail After Man They Sought Not Home And They Take His Wife

Two Chattanooga bounty hunters are in jail near Atlanta after police said they took a man's wife away in handcuffs after the man they were seeking was not home. Khalil Abdullah and Kevin Roberson were charged with kidnapping, false arrest and false imprisonment. In an incident in Gwinnett County, police said the pair broke into a home wielding guns and found the man they were ... (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The sheriff's office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

When Black Friday Comes

So it’s Thanksgiving morning. You stumble out of bed and head to the bathroom to pee. Push the handle and away it goes (where does it go, anyway?) Better head to the kitchen and get the coffee on. While it’s brewing maybe a hot shower – love that gas water heater, I mean, it heats the water, and lots of it. Now time to enjoy a cup o’ joe and some breakfast while catching up with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UVa --Time For Change

The University of Virginia is, by any measure, one of the finest universities in the world. I have long admired it, whether covering dozens of sports events, cavorting with countless friends, or benefitting repeatedly from the surgical skills of the late world-class humanitarian Frank McCue. But today there is a terrible pall over “Mr. Jefferson’s university” – no, make that a ... (click for more)