On Friday, June 12, the Tipton County Fire Department officially went into service.
A ribbon cutting – or, hose uncuppling – took place that morning and the new department’s firefighters hosted tours of the facility and showed off the new trucks and equipment.
Starting the department has taken several years of planning. Here’s what Tipton County Fire Chief Jon Piercey had to say Friday:
Q: This day has been several years in the making; how does it feel to start a fire department?
A: Since I started my firefighting career at Three Star Fire Department back in 1994, having a county wide fire department has always been a discussion on some level. Fast forward to 2017 when I was hired as the first fire chief of Tipton County to help make this a possibility and in 2020 it is reality.
Today is the first day Tipton County has full-time firefighters, 24 hours a day, at the Drummonds station. With significant help and guidance from County Executive Jeff Huffman and complete support from the county commission, a desire has been turned into a long-term commitment. Although we are starting with a small staff, I see big things in the future for fire protection within the county. So to ask “How does it feel to start a fire department?,” it is a great feeling knowing that this was created from a vision.
The county was very willing to purchase the needed equipment, hire the perfect staff and allow this to develop into what I believe will be an asset to to not only the Drummonds area, but the entire county. And to know I was given the opportunity to use my input, from the colors of the apparatus, the hiring of the staff and selecting the equipment that I felt would benefit the community to the fullest extent.
Not only will this venture help Drummonds with fire and EMS services, we also assist surrounding departments with equipment to help with their needs as well as well.
There are only a few times in your life where you personally get a chance to be part of something big and I feel this was my chance. I have never been so proud to be part of something that not only affects me, but everyone the department comes in contact with in the future.
Q: Can you introduce our readers to you and to your staff?
A: Tipton County was fortunate enough to be able to hire some of the best in the fire service. Our full-time staff consist of FF/AEMT Chris Allen, FF/AEMT Chris “Elvis” Bryan and FF/AEMT Craig Rose. All three have extensive knowledge in the EMS field, years of fire service training and not to mention specialty training each of them have obtained throughout their career. When I tell you we were lucky enough to hire some of the best, we did.
We also have a part-time staff that consist of FF/Paramedic Damon Wherry, FF/EMT Tony Cavallo, FF/Paramedic Katrin Stewart, FF/EMT Clay Short, FF/EMT Erik Beasley, FF/Paramedic Dave Hessling, FF/Paramedic Josh Thompson and FF/Paramedic Trever Rogers. The part time staff have extensive background training from Memphis Fire or Shelby County Fire. The part-time staff works a 24 hour shift per week, at a minimum, along side the full-time staff. We will be opening up a volunteer staff that will assist the rest of the team very soon for those only wanting to volunteer. We will constantly be recruiting more part-time staff as the job opportunity stays open year around.
Q: What is your coverage area?
A: Our primary response area covers Campground Road to the Mississippi River, east and west. Hwy. 59 to Armstrong Road, north and south. We have Sugar Creek Trails and the Drummonds School in our primary district. We also provide automatic mutual aid response to Gilt Edge Fire Department, Munford Fire Department, Atoka Fire Department and Quito Fire Department. And if any other department needs our assistance in the county, they can request it.
Q: What are the short- and long-term plans?
A: Short-term plans are easy. We plan on continuing to build up the Drummonds station with more equipment and staffing. We also plan on acquiring an ISO rate that will make the homeowners very happy. (This is part of how your homeowners insurance is priced). The more staffing and equipment we can obtain, the more protective services we can offer. There are several specialty type services we plan on adding to our resume and will come as we continue to grow. We also have a plan to promote fire prevention to local business and the Drummonds school. We fully believe the way to solve problems in emergency services is by preventing them from happening in the first place.
Long-term plans consist of expanding the county fire department to the east side of the county. There are several locations we are looking at to assist the current fire departments over there. A full-time staff would ease the burden that is put on several of the volunteer departments that struggle to keep volunteers on staff. The call volumes have more than quadrupled over the years and we are trying address that the most economical way possible. So the thought is to basically duplicate the services that have been established at the Drummonds location, but this will take time.
Q: What would you like to say to residents in your coverage area?
A: The main point I would like to say to all the citizens of the Drummonds and surrounding area is please give us time and I promise you will have a county fire department that will meet your expectations at the upmost minimal cost to the the county taxpayers. Your county officials are very adamant of the cost associated with a county-owned service and are doing everything possible to keep the burden off the taxpayers as much as possible. We are achieving this by apply for various grants and state funded options. But by going this route, things take time and won’t happen overnight. What I can promise you currently is, when you call 911 with an emergency, you will get a response from your fire department, the firefighters that show up will be fully trained and extremely professional to you and your family. We were put here to serve the community and anyone that needs fire or medical services and we plan on exceeding your expectations with this mission.
The Tipton County Fire Department is located on Pate Road in Drummonds, in between Drummonds Elementary and the Drummonds Park.