EVENSVILLE, Tenn. -- Two simultaneous house fires at the first of the year marked Jacky Reavley's first days as Rhea County's fire chief and emergency management director.
Reavley said the fires were a "very exciting" way to begin his fire chief work. A Dayton Mountain home was a total loss, he said, while a Concord Lane fire was contained and the home saved.
After reviewing statistics for 2011, Reavley said there were 496 fire calls, including structure, brush and meth-related fires.
Reavley, who has worked with area fire departments for more than 27 years, was appointed chief by County Executive George Thacker to replace Billy Cranfield, who retired in December.
Thacker said Friday that Reavley had "grown up in" fire service and that his longevity was an asset.
There are 200 volunteers, men and women, serving in the county's 12 fire districts, officials said.
Last July, Thacker and Cranfield said need is growing to hire full-time employees, as well. Scheduling conflicts often arose with volunteers, Thacker said then.
Reavley said there is no current plan to hire full-time employees, and that one of his concerns is the "limited resources" available to fight daytime fires.
He said Cranfield had led an effort to implement in-house training for new recruits that would expedite their mandated certification. In previous years, recruits trained at nearby fire departments as classes were available, Reavley said.
On Feb. 18, Rhea County recruits will take part in the "Train the Trainer" program at the Rhea County Sheriff's Office training center in Evensville, he said.
Reavley said the emergency workers' team-relief efforts after the April 2011 tornadoes left them better prepared for future occurrences.
Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at kdj424@ bellsouth.net.