Bradley County: Commission says no to county/Cleveland fire merger

Bradley County: Commission says no to county/Cleveland fire merger

June 20th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in Local - Breaking News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The Bradley County Commission has rejected a merger of the county and city of Cleveland fire departments.

Commissioner Mel Griffith, who made the motion that was approved on an 8-6 vote, said the county will continue developing its own fire department according to plans already made. But, he said, the motion does not rule out the possibility of discussing some kind of fire contract with the city.

The county now has a contract to pay $1.8 million annually to the city for the Cleveland Fire Department's response to urban areas in the county. The county's full-time department, plus a force of volunteers, responds to rural areas. But the contract expires in 18 months.

Some commissioners wanted to delay a vote and hold a joint city-county meeting to discuss a report from a study task force.

"We have all gotten the presentation from the task force," Commissioner Bill Winters said. "But we have not sat down and discussed this."

But fire service has been controversial for 19 years, Griffith said.

"Should we just defer this to our grandchildren?" he asked.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.