“I am humbled that the mayor is confident in me to run both departments,” Spence said.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis held a meeting with Bradley County Fire-Rescue and the Bradley County Fire Board to make the announcement.
“He has demonstrated outstanding leadership and organization skills, especially during the April storms of 2011. Those skills will be useful during this transition. Troy is fully capable of overseeing both departments until a full-time chief is hired,” Davis said.
Spence is an associate member of BCFR and continues to volunteer when needed.
How long the interim chief will serve before a permanent replacement is found in unknown. Davis said he did not want to give a timeline because he did not want to rush the decision.
Although Spence will be leading both departments, the departments will remain separate entities.
Spence begins his dual roles immediately.
Davis and Spence said the department would continue to move on schedule with the construction and staffing of the three new fire stations set to be up and running in April.
“It’s a very busy six months ahead of us,” Davis said.
Training of the first group of new paid firefighters is going well, according to Davis. He said the first group is almost finished with training. The second group will begin training after Thanksgiving.
The county will be receiving about $1 million from a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct the office areas of the fire stations to withstand tornadoes. These stations will serve as storm shelters for the community.
At the Waterville station site, the gully that had caused concern about construction has been filled in with dirt from the highway project.
“We’re the envy of the state,” Davis said.
He said whenever he goes to state meetings he is asked about BCFR.
Dewey Woody is stepping down as chief to take a position at the State Fire Marshall’s Office as director of the Bomb and Arson section.
“I did not seek this opportunity; rather, it came looking for me,” Woody said.
Woody will be remain a lifetime volunteer, and will still live in Bradley County on the weekends.
“I appreciate the job that you have done for Bradley County,” fire board member Briant Berry said.
He will also be available for the department to finish some elements needed to move forward with purchasing the new fire trucks and tankers.
“My new employer understands that we still have work that needs to be done,” Woody said. “Until those things are done, until all the work is done here, I’m committed. Whatever I have to do I will do.”
The process for hiring a new chief was also discussed during the fire board meeting. Davis said his office is accepting resumes.
“Really, the only unknown is the screening process. I’m not sure how we will do that, and at some point there will be a group involved. It could be the fire board,” Davis said.
The importance of volunteers to the department was also emphasized.
“It’s a combination department, and as long as I’m around it’s going to be a combination department. We need both,” Davis said.
Berry said he had received calls from volunteer firefighters concerned about how recent changes would affect them.
He made a motion of support for volunteers, which was passed unanimously by the board.