|Obion unprotected when firefighters leave for Troy fire
|Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:01 pm
|By KEVIN BOWDEN
Firefighters from Hornbeak, Troy and Obion responded to a structure fire at 1188 Campground Road, south of Troy, early Wednesday afternoon. Specifically, two volunteer firefighters from Obion responded to the fire.
What that meant for residents of Obion is they were left without fire protection.
“We are absolutely unprotected at this time,” Mayor Glen Parnell told The Messenger Wednesday afternoon.
The issue of fire protection for Obion’s rural fire district erupted Monday night during the Obion mayor and council meeting and the controversy ran well into the night.
By Tuesday morning, Obion Fire Chief Jamie Evans and a majority of the town’s volunteer fire department had resigned.
At the heart of the conflict was a rural fire plan submitted by Evans and a competing plan submitted by board member Renee Webber.
Evans’ plan would have discontinued fire protection to a 10-square-mile area around the Cat Corner community, as well as rural field fires and vehicle fires.
Ms. Webber’s plan continued rural fire protection to the Cat Corner area and continued calls for field and vehicle fires.
Neither proposal received enough support from the board to be approved and Monday’s meeting ended abruptly with the issue of rural fire protection in limbo.
The situation grew worse, though, with the resignation of Evans and other volunteer firefighters that night.
Now, the town and its rural fire district have been left without adequate fire protection.
It’s a dilemma that has angered and concerned those on both sides of the issue in the town.
Parnell said most of those he has talked to in town about the matter are “very upset about it.”
In fact, he said the lack of a functioning fire department presents a major liability issue for the city.
One of the worst-case scenarios played out Wednesday afternoon when Obion’s only two available volunteer firefighters were called to help firefighters from Hornbeak and Troy fight a rural fire.
That essentially left Obion residents without fire protection.
That situation could happen again before city officials and the remaining volunteer firefighters can work out an agreement.
Firefighters reportedly met Tuesday evening at the fire department, and there apparently is still a considerable amount of confusion concerning the future of the volunteer fire department.
“I think we’re going to get it pieced together,” Parnell said. “We’ll get it worked out one way or another.”
For the approximately 1,200 residents of Obion, what began as a conflict over rural fire protection has reached the point that now they have been left without effective fire protection.
The Obion board’s next scheduled meeting is set for Aug. 6.
The Obion County Fire Chiefs Association was scheduled to meet tonight.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.19.12