Tipton County is taking a significant step toward building the first county fire department.

County Executive Jeff Huffman said two county firefighters were recently hired and a third will come on board very soon, which will give the county three full-time firefighters plus Jon Piercey, who was hired as chief in 2018 when the project began.

The plan is to hire six to 10 part-time firefighters in the coming weeks. They will work at the Drummonds Fire Station in an attempt to shore up coverage in that area.

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“It’s the fire district that needs the most help,” Huffman said. “It’s where we have a high number of high-density residential areas and the fire protection there is extremely weak. If we fix the problem in Drummonds, if we fix all the unanswered calls in Drummonds, we fix 70 percent of unanswered calls in Tipton County. That’s how bad it is out there.”

Last February, $289,355 was spent to purchase a new pumper for the county.

The cost to the county for three full-time firefighters, including salary and benefits, is approximately $250,000 per year. The 2019-20 budget for the county fire department is $1.2 million.

Huffman said that budge number ties with Madison County for the highest rural fire department budget in the state.

In other county matters:

The Tipton County Commission voted unanimously at Monday’s monthly meeting to send a letter to Gov. Bill Lee stating the county does not want to accept refugees from other countries.

Huffman said the commissioners asked him to draft the letter which, in part, reads: “The Tipton County Commission is skeptical, to say the least, of the federal government’s ability to competently vet individuals coming in as refugees. We do not want to resettle people who might bring harm to our citizens.”

“The reason all this is coming up is the ultra conservative side of the Republican Party didn’t like Gov. (Bill) Lee allowing Tennessee to receive refugees,” Huffman said. “They disagree with that. Part of the thinking with the federal directive is if you don’t want to receive them in your local government then you just have to tell us.”

Shelby, Knox, Hamilton, Davidson and Bradley counties are believed to be the only Tennessee counties that have accepted refugees.

The commissioners passed a resolution Monday night asking the United State Postal Service to “preserve private home mail and package delivery service to new and proposed single family developments and the U.S. Postal Service waive and/or removes the requirements for a centralized mail kiosk or cluster box mail delivery system in new and proposed single family developments.”

The postal service published a guide for builders and developers in December of 2017 that utilizes a group of mailboxes in subdivisions instead of individual mailboxes.

Huffman said it is causing problems for the plans of some local developers.

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