CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Fifteen new firefighters have joined Bradley County Fire and Rescue as part of its effort to staff three new stations expected to be fully operational by spring.
The department is building fire stations on Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road. They will offer protection to residents now served by the Cleveland Fire Department under a city-county contract that ends June 30.
"It's the start of a new start for Bradley County, and I'm excited about that," County Commissioner Robert Rominger said. "I know that those [firefighter] graduates seemed to be fired up and ready to go."
The 15 recruits, culled from 50 applicants, passed written and agility tests, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said.
Twelve more recruits will start the 14-week firefighter training program today, followed by another group of 15, said Bradley County EMA Director and interim Fire Chief Troy Spence.
He said another key personnel objective is the selection of a permanent command staff. He wants the department's battalion commanders in place by Dec. 1. Spence said he plans to hire from within the department for those positions.
Davis said his office is accepting resumes to replace former chief Dewey Woody, who resigned in October, but there is no timeline for the selection process.
The Bradley County Fire Board also has had some personnel changes.
Jimmy Woody was appointed to the board in a 12-1 vote at a recent Bradley County Commission meeting. Woody will replace Briant Berry, who recently resigned because of new responsibilities and time constraints, Commissioner Jeff Yarber said.
"He did a good job and served us well," Yarber said of Berry.
Davis said all three new stations will receive Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant funding.
That will reduce local costs to about $100,000 per station, according to statements by Dan Howell, Davis' executive assistant. That is about one-sixth of a fire station's normal construction cost.
The new stations will serve as emergency shelters capable of protecting up to 200 people.