According to Woody, it was decided to let the contract expire and instead invest the money in Bradley County Fire Rescue.
“In order to give the citizens the same amount of coverage they have been experiencing, and blessed with, we have to build three new fire stations and hire 27 new people,” Woody said.
Woody said the candidates are interviewed by him after a successful interview with a panel of rank and file firefighters. Names of applicants chosen by Woody will be forwarded to human resources. From there, they will be required to submit to drug and psychological tests, which is the final step in the hiring process.
Fifteen new recruits will begin 61 days of training on Aug. 13. A second class of 12 firefighters will begin two weeks after the first group of graduates.
“There will be a break between the classes [training] to give the guys who conduct the classes a little bit of a breather,” Woody said. “The second group of new recruits will begin training two weeks after the first finish their classes.”
According to Woody, the first graduating class should be ready for work around Nov. 1. The second group of 12 firefighters will go to work around Feb. 1, 2013.
“There are three precious commodities you need in the fire service,” Woody said. “You have to have people. That is number one. Number two is you need water, which equates to trucks. The third thing is you need air, because we use air packs [for breathing] to fight fire. If we don’t have air packs then we can’t go into the fires.”
The 27 new recruits are part of preparation by BCFR to get ready for when their contract with the Cleveland Fire Department expires June 30, 2013.
According to Woody, July 1, 2013, will be the first day BCFR will fight all fires outside the city limits of Cleveland in Bradley County. There will be 13 stations, five of which will have paid firefighters.
In other fire board news, Bradley County Commissioner Ed Elkins asked if widening Highway 60 would affect the new station placement. Administrator Paula Garner reported it would not.
Woody also said bids will be opened for three tankers and three engines within the next two weeks.