Interim fire chief Troy Spence said the Minnis Road station will be completed by April 10 with the other two following not far behind. The Hopewell station will be complete May 13. The Waterville station is set for completion by May 30.
Other elements of the expansion are also progressing. Highlights of the department’s actions to prepare for the coming expiration of the city contract were given by Spence at the Fire Board meeting Tuesday.
The final class of newly hired BCFR firefighters will have a graduation ceremony on April 14.
Much of their training previously requiring a trip to Nashville was completed at the BCFR training center. Spence said the local training saved about $10,000 on training for 35 firefighters. New equipment and being approved to train for “live burns” made the training possible.
“We are really close to getting this training center certified,” Spence said.
Commission Chairman Louie Alford asked if BCFR would be able to provide training for firefighters in other counties once the training center was fully certified. Spence said it would, but details had not been worked out.
An update on the status of fire trucks was also provided. The first will be completed in mid-April. Spence said the department should have the first truck by April 14.
A staff meeting Monday outlined where each person would be as the department expands, Spence said. Needed promotions were also made.
- The proposed budget for the expanded department was presented to the Fire Board during the meeting. The budget reflects needed increases because of more employees. The department now has 63 staff members who respond to fires, ranging from chiefs to firefighters.
Spence said the proposed budget goes to Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis before coming before the Commission.
Chairman Dana Burgner asked about an increase in the maintenance line item. Spence said this was to cover the vehicle insurance deductible.
“We’re more than doubling the amount of vehicles we’ve got and the new drivers we have,” Spence said. “They’re new drivers because most of the current drivers have been promoted.”
Increased personnel has also led to an increase in the amount requested for training, tuition and travel.
Alford asked if the amount proposed for gasoline would be sufficient. Spence said he hoped so.
The proposed budget also includes funding for a new breathing air compressor, part of the equipment firefighters use to breathe when responding to a fire.
“Every one we have is well over 20 years old, and as they get older what happens is you can’t find parts to fix them anymore,” Spence said. “The lifeline of these guys when they are in these hazardous environments is breathing air.”
Spence said one of the compressors costs about $25,000. Alford suggested the department also apply for a Healthy Community Initiative grant during the next award cycle.
Some line item numbers were unavailable Tuesday because that part of the budget is handled by the human resources department.
A used fire truck and cab-style pickup were also included as vehicle requests in the budget.
- John Tyler recently resigned from the Fire Board. His resignation leaves a vacancy in the 7th District seat on the board. Alford said the 7th District commissioners would be notified so they could make a recommendation to fill the vacancy.