The task force also developed a mission statement as well as three possible names for the potential merged department. It was established Jan. 18, to develop the facts, costs and conditions of the possible merger.
The Bradley County Commission and Cleveland City Council are currently facing three options with fire protection services: each having its own independent fire department, merging departments or continuing a contract between the city and county to provide coverage for the Urban Fringe Area.
Cleveland Fire Department employees are paid more than those of Bradley County Fire Rescue.
Task force member and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland proposed that if the departments merged, each county position’s salary should match that of the city.
“I’ll be satisfied with that as long as the qualifications are the same,” said Cleveland Vice Mayor and task force member Avery Johnson.
“I just want to make sure the standards are still the same,” Johnson added.
Task force member and Bradley County Fire Rescue employee Matt Mundall suggested the task force further discuss matching salaries according to qualifications and years of service.
“I understand that there are different qualifications for each department. If we’re going to say we agree on a pay scale set for each position, I think that would be appropriate if we’re going to discuss farther what the individual qualifications are,” said Mundall.
“There still should be a discussion on what qualifications are needed to fit into each pay grade,” Mundall said.
City Manager Janice Casteel and Amy Moore, legislative assistant to the County Commission, will present city and county fire department salaries during the next task force meeting.
The three possible names of the potential merged department, which will be voted upon at the next scheduled task force meeting are:
- Cleveland Bradley Fire Rescue;
- Cleveland Bradley County Emergency Services; and
- Cleveland Bradley County EMS Services.
“The Cleveland Fire Department, as everyone knows, has a long history, greater than 100 years. For many years we were the county’s fire department as well as city’s. In respect to that, I’d like to have ‘Cleveland’ as part of that name,” said Ron Harrison of the Cleveland Fire Department.
Discussions also arose to include “Charleston” in the naming of the department; however, that option was ultimately dropped.
“Would we not include everyone if we just called it Bradley County Rescue Services/Emergency Services?” asked task force member and Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford.
“I know Cleveland is part of Bradley County and Charleston is part of Bradley County. Everything is Bradley County,” Alford emphasized.
“I think we’re struggling to maintain some identity with our long history,” said Harrison.
The mission statement of the potential merged department has been identified as: “It is the mission of the [department name to be determined] to make the lives of everyone in our community safer by quickly responding to and mitigating any situation that threatens safety and to further advance the public’s safety through prevention, education, medical rescue and fire suppression services.”
The task force will next meet Feb. 22 at 1 p.m.