County Chief Wants More Volunteers, Fire Stations As Population Grows

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Officials with the Rutherford County Fire Rescue said the number of calls has drastically increased over several years.

Chief Larry Farley told NewsChannel 5 that his department has been expected to reach 6,000 calls by the end of the year. The number of calls has more than tripled since 2010.

"As the city and county continue to grow, I think our public safety will have to grow with it. We've gone from about 118,000 in ten years to right about now, we're about 333,000," said Farley.

There are two full-time fire stations and five volunteer fire departments that serve a growing Rutherford County.

While the number of calls has gone up, the amount of volunteer firefighters has gone down.

"It becomes harder and harder as time goes on to recruit volunteers and retain them. It'd be great if we could recruit a lot of volunteers and be active," added Farley.

Even though there are calls that go through the volunteer fire department, full-time employees would still respond and help for majority of the time. There have been many cases when there haven't been enough volunteers during calls in the daytime.

"There are a lot of times when my guys run 17 to 18 calls in a 24-hour shift, so they are constantly on the road," said Farley.

The chief urged others to complete training and become a volunteer firefighter as the county grows. 

He would also like to see an additional two full-time fire stations to meet the demands of the population boom. 

"With four full-time stations we can respond anywhere in the county from seven to eight minutes," he said.

More stations would also mean more opportunities for volunteer firefighters to transition into full-time positions. 

The county's growth has also played in the department's favor since it's supported through sales tax. 

Farley said about nine percent of the county's budget has helped fire and ambulance services. On average, that's approximately $3.8 million a year, according to Farley.

The next county budget meeting has been planned for early next year.

For anyone who would like to learn how to become a volunteer firefighter, visit VolunteerFireTN.org

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