Fire Board eyes proposed policy for 3 safe rooms
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Jun 26, 2013 | 1883 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRADLEY COUNTY FIRE-RESCUE interim chief Troy Spence, left, explains safety features of a door at the Hopewell firehall to Fire Board member Bruce Bradford. The door is designed with thicker hinges than most and has a unique deadbolt lock which engages when the door is closed. Each of the three new firehall office and living areas were built to Federal Emergency Management Standards to be used as safe rooms. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
BRADLEY COUNTY FIRE-RESCUE interim chief Troy Spence, left, explains safety features of a door at the Hopewell firehall to Fire Board member Bruce Bradford. The door is designed with thicker hinges than most and has a unique deadbolt lock which engages when the door is closed. Each of the three new firehall office and living areas were built to Federal Emergency Management Standards to be used as safe rooms. Banner Photo, JOYANNA WEBER
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A draft of guidelines for operating the safe rooms at each of the new Bradley County Fire-Rescue stations was reviewed by the Bradley County Fire Board Tuesday.

The document outlines procedures for opening the safe rooms to the public in the event of a tornado warning.

Features of the safe rooms will be highlighted during open houses at each of the facilities Friday, from noon until 4 p.m. Interim Fire Chief Troy Spence said everything is in place for the new stations to be fully operational by July 1.

Spence said the document still must be approved by Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis and could change.

If the draft reviewed by the fire board is approved, the safe rooms would be opened by a safe room manager who will give a report to the Bradley County 911 Communications Center and the emergency management director.

Spence estimated each safe room could house 250 people.

Fire board member Ed Elkins said the construction of the fire stations cost more than had been anticipated.

“Initially they said, ‘We are going to get enough FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) money that we will only have to pay for two stations ...’ It didn’t work out that way,” Elkins said. “These stations cost quite a lot more than the Tasso station.” That station was completed in June 2009 and served as the construction model for the newer firehalls.

Elkins said the added requirements for supervisors and additional guidelines created a greater cost.

Spence attributed the higher price tag to increases in construction costs.

“We didn’t realize construction costs had increased that amount. Even if we hadn’t built this with the safe room on it, it was going to be about $600,000,” Spence said.

This cost is compared to the cost for the Tasso station at $380,000.

The next project for BCFR to tackle is preparing for the ISO rating audit in October.

“There are some things we are working on to get the best rating that we can,” Spence said.

The rate is reviewed by many home insurance companies.

Also during the meeting:

- The Fire Board welcomed Dr. Benjamin Pérez to fill the 7th District representative position.

“I’m just delighted to be here,” Pérez said. “I just appreciate the opportunity to get involved more directly in the life of the community.”

- Spence said the department installed a new air compressor used to fill the air tanks that firefighters use when fighting flames.

“That was one of the things that was a pretty big issue for the health and well-being of our firefighters,” Spence said. “We replaced our compressor and we have a lot more capability to fill more bottles at a quicker rate.”

He said the new compressor also had a lot of added features that made it safer than the one it replaced.

Spence said the department was still working to purchase the used air tanks from the Cleveland Fire Department that had about five years of life left in them. Spence said the city department has changed the type of air tanks they are purchasing, so the timeline has changed.