I am writing with concern about the discussions surrounding the fire protection in Bradley County. Charleston has watched and listened to the discussions and as far as I am aware service to Charleston has not been considered at all.
I am asking you to consider that Charleston, as well as other outlying areas in the county, will suffer if these two (fire) departments are merged. In recent years, fire protection in Charleston has been handled through an agreement with Bradley County Fire Rescue. Our coverage is great and we could not ask for better service and response time from BCFR. The training and equipment provided to the Charleston station volunteers, as well as the service from the full-time paid station at Tasso Lane, have been exceptional.
We have a great situation in place. The merger you are considering is not taking care of Charleston and would cause Charleston to suffer.
Another thing to consider is the mutual aid agreement with our neighbors. Neighboring counties often call on our county fire department to help with situations that they are not equipped to handle. Many times response to these situations is handled by volunteers. If the departments merge and there are no longer volunteers involved, our neighbors will suffer. The city is not going to pay people to respond outside their district.
Bradley County Fire Rescue is recognized across the state as a professional department with highly trained people who are willing to go the extra miles to assist at home and next door. BCFR is fortunate to have expertise and equipment for a variety of specialized rescue emergencies such as swift water, trench and building collapse, search and tracking, hazardous materials and several others. They are known as good neighbors whose No. 1 priority is to help people. This department is the envy of many departments in Tennessee and North Georgia.
Don’t take that away from the citizens of Bradley County.
— Hank Hayden