NIOTA (WATE) – Problems have been piling up for too long at a McMinn county fire department, including a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation case of embezzlement and a number of firefighters resigning.
Earlier this year, the Union Grove Volunteer Fire Department was worried about protecting homeowners if the county ended up seizing their fire trucks.
Due to county leader’s concerns, they recently decided that fire department is closed for good.
The community is starting over with a new home, a new name, and a new chief along with firefighters at North McMinn Fire and Rescue.
“It’s been a lot of work just to get to this point and we’ve got a lot of work left to go. But I would consider us blessed to be in the position we’re in,” said Chief Colby Kizer.
The 52 member team is currently working with the state on certification. North McMinn Fire and Rescue is covering all of the homes the Union Grove Volunteer Fire Department used to.
“We didn’t want it to come to what it did. The county made the decision,” said Kizer.
The fire engine and rescue truck parked at the new fire hall used to be inside UGVFD’s garage, but McMinn County owns both.
“When they did what they did, which was remove the trucks, we stepped up and said ‘Hey we will provide that service,'” said Kizer.
Neighboring departments have been giving what they can, like an ambulance and even turn-out gear, to help as this fire department grows from the ground up.
It’s a new chapter which is welcomed by homeowners.
“I feel safer. I know that if something should happen they’re just right down the road and they’ll be here in an instant. Everybody rallied around it so it just goes to show how we help each other,” said Mary Cooter.
The North McMinn Fire and Rescue is searching for permanent headquarters because the garage where they’re housing their trucks is only available for the next six months.