CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Troy Spence, director of Bradley County's Emergency Management Agency, has been named to the interim chief position at Bradley County Fire & Rescue.
Spence replaces Chief Dewey Woody, who leaves at the end of the week to assume new duties as director of the arson and bomb section of the state Fire Marshal's Office.
At Bradley Fire & Rescue Headquarters on Tuesday, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis announced the transitional role Spence, who will continue serving as emergency management director, will play in the department until a permanent chief is hired.
"Troy has more than 20 years of experience with Bradley County Fire before moving to EMA a few years ago," Davis said. "He has demonstrated outstanding leadership and organization skills, especially during the April 2011 storms."
Davis said he will not commit to a timeline for selecting a new chief, but that the selection process will include the fire board and the fire battalion commanders. The county has begun accepting resumes for the fire chief position.
"I'm no stranger to the Fire & Rescue Department, having 27 years as a volunteer," Spence said. "I'm humbled that the mayor's confident in me to lead the two departments for a short time."
Spence said the first big task of his mission will be to put together a permanent command staff by Dec. 1.
Woody's resignation comes at a critical time, Davis said, considering the fire department is eight to nine months away from achieving its strategic objective of bringing three new fire stations into full operation at Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road. Those stations will offer protection to residents now served by the Cleveland Fire Department under an agreement between the county and city that ends June 30, 2013.
All the elements needed to launch operations at the new stations are expected to be completed by April, including personnel, equipment and the buildings themselves.
The department now is hiring and training 24 firefighters to augment its current staff of 42 paid and 60 volunteer firefighters to provide enough personnel for the additional stations, Woody said.
According to notices received by the Mayor's Office, the stations appear to be on track for hazard mitigation grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grants will reduce the county's expenses to about $100,000 per station — about one-sixth the cost of a comparable station, said Dan Howell, executive assistant to the county mayor.
The stations will be generally modeled on Station No. 10 at Tasso Road, officials said. The new stations also will be able to serve as emergency shelters, with a capacity of 200 people each.
In other news, the Bradley County mayor's office announced that early voting totals had set a record for the county, with 11,511 ballots cast as of noon Wednesday. During the 2008 presidential race, 24,807 ballots out of 38,301 were cast as early votes in Bradley County.