Cherokee Fire Program to Receive Retired Fire Truck and Response Equipment | Local News


The president of the Hawkins County Volunteer Firefighters Association came to help donate a fire truck to the Cherokee Firefighting educational program Thursday night.

William “Bill” Killen, a retired firefighter with NASA’s Cape Canaveral Fire Department at the height of the space program, addressed the board regarding the future of arson control in Hawkins County. The association defends the eight volunteer fire departments in the county.

I am in my 65th year in the emergency services, having held leadership positions at state, local, national and international levels, ”he said. “I am a former professional education teacher in Florida where I taught professional fire programs. service for 10 years. “

Killen is a former member of the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.

“We support the school system’s fire science program (at Cherokee and Volunteer high schools),” Killen said.

There are between 175 and 250 men and women who serve as volunteer firefighters in the eight Hawkins County VFDs that operate at 14 stations, according to Killen.

“This means they are providing a service that the county had to pay for that would cost between $ 11 million and $ 15 million per year,” he said. “They operate a fleet of fire apparatus that are on average between 25 and 28 years old. Fire trucks are typically retired after 20 years, but not so much in Tennessee.

“Hawkins County is not alone in operating vintage fire trucks,” he said. “We taxpayers cannot afford to pay for a paid fire service. In order to continue this program, we are developing as many partnerships as possible. “

The Association of Volunteer Firefighters sponsors fire science programs at VHS and CHS and will provide instructors to supplement these courses while instructors undergo training in Chattanooga.

“I know it was a heartbreaking chore for this board of trustees to close two elementary schools,” Killen said. “We would very much like to partner with the school system and use some of the portions of McPheeters Bend Elementary School.”

Killen suggested that the Volunteer Firefighters Association could be housed there along with the Firefighters Library with training materials that can be used by all volunteer fire departments and fire science programs at the two high schools. Killen also suggested that a few rooms in the old school could be converted to mimic an emergency operations center. The school property is located next to the Goshen Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

Killen said that next week, one of the association’s members will travel to Maryland to bring back a “truck” of personal protective equipment (coats, pants and helmets) for the program.

Cherokee instructor Doug Wood said 34 students are participating in the fire science program this semester and 54 students have registered for next semester. There is a waiting list of 30 students willing to participate.

Wood also reported that 18-20 students participating in the program this semester have joined the VFD association and are helping in their communities.

“It’s great,” he said. “I didn’t expect the first semester to go the way it is.”

The students took a field trip to a Kingsport fire station, which helped increase student interest.

No action was taken on McPheeter’s Bend’s suggestion as a firefighters association center, but board members said it needed to be given some thought.

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