Bradley board hammers out details of emergency services merger

Bradley board hammers out details of emergency services merger

March 31st, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

MERGER TIMELINE

May 25: Task force presents recommendations to Bradley County Commission and Cleveland City Council

June 20: City and county vote onrecommendations

Source: Joint city/county resolution

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - A task force considering the merger of two fire departments and Bradley County's ambulance service agreed Wednesday on what the merged department's administrative board would look like.

The board would include three members each from the Bradley County Commission and Cleveland City Council and one member from the Charleston City Commission, the task force decided. The mayors of Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County would be nonvoting, ex-officio members.

An advisory group would include directors for 911 and emergency medical service; the manager of Cleveland Utilities' Water Division; an insurance industry representative appointed by the County Commission; a business and industry representative appointed by the City Council; the Cleveland city manager and the local Emergency Management Agency.

The group also agreed Wednesday with County Commission Chairman Louie Alford's suggestion for an arson task force comprising fire department, law enforcement and district attorneys's office representatives. Alford said a single arson investigator could be overwhelmed in a large, combined department.

The merger task force also endorsed an organizational chart. It includes three city firefighter positions now in a hiring freeze and two unfunded county firefighter positions.

The chart includes the city and county paid firefighters and the county's volunteer fire forces.

"It's one organization all the way across," Cleveland Fire Chief Chuck Atchley said.

The merged department would have 15 fire stations, including the county's eight volunteer stations and two full-time stations and Cleveland's five full-time stations.

Charleston Mayor Walter Goode said he is pleased that his town has been included in the merger plan at last.

"No one has come to explain the whole realm of how this would include Charleston," he said. "We don't know where we are or where we are going."

The Charleston City Commission has not agreed to the merger, Goode said, "but I don't want to sit outside and spoil everything. That's not our intent."

The next big issue is funding, merger task force Chairman Julian Sullivan said.