published Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Bradley County to launch new fire stations

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — New fire stations are almost ready to open in the Hopewell and Waterville communities, according to Bradley County Fire and Rescue officials.

On Tuesday, the Bradley County Fire Board will discuss the new stations, which will cover areas now protected by the Cleveland Fire Department under an agreement that expires June 30.

"Today we've got trucks moving furniture into the Hopewell station," said Troy Spence, interim fire chief, who is director of Bradley County Emergency Medical Services.

The Hopewell station on Georgetown Pike is expected to be occupied full-time by June 16, said Spence. The station is only awaiting installation of a grinder pump in the sewer connection. Until then, said Spence, crews cannot use showers and toilets.

The Waterville station on Dalton Pike only needs some more concrete work, and it is expected to be manned within a week, said Spence.

A third new facility on Minnis Road opened two months ago, Spence said. In all, Bradley County Fire and Rescue will have 13 stations.

Each was built with storm-resistant shelters capable of housing 200 people, fire officials said. Hazard mitigation grants awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency partially offset construction costs.

The department has taken delivery of six new trucks and boosted the paid firefighting staff from 24 to 63 since fall. The number of active volunteers is up to 93 from 42.

In early December, Spence created a new command staff, with battalion commanders to oversee each of the department's three shifts.

No announcement has been made in regard to a permanent fire chief, though.

Although the county has been accepting applications for the position, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said he will not be tied to a timeline for that decision. Right now, he said, he just wants to focus on a successful transition of fire services.

Spence was named interim fire chief soon after former chief Dewey Woody resigned in October to direct the arson and bomb section of the Tennessee Fire Marshal's Office.

The Bradley County Fire Board will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Although meetings are normally conducted at fire department headquarters on Inman Street, Spence said they may change the venue to one of the new stations.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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