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Fire Departments To Cover Unchartered Interstate 24 Areas

Posted on Tuesday, September 5, 2023 at 3:56 pm

LACIE SILVA
Editor

At the recent County Commission meeting, a decision was made to support a previously unchartered area off Interstate 24 to and from Monteagle.
Several concerned citizens contacted Commissioner Jimmy Cantrell, who brought the motion to the committee, to ask why fire departments were not responding to the blazes in that area. Unchartered areas are not designated to any one specific department and as a result any responding firefighters would not be covered were anything happen to them in an unassigned area. After being brought to his attention, Cantrell researched and found that the area from mile marker 148 to Monteagle was not designated to a specific fire department and as such any department that did respond was not insured.
In an interview, Cantrell described his frustration and stated, “we as Marion County are better than that.” According to Cantrell, Gregory Maloof (the mayor of Monteagle), and Travis Lawyer (the fire chief), have agreed to cover parts of the disputed area to mile marker 143. A five-mile stretch remained between mile markers 143 and 148. Cantrell advised that he had contacted multiple departments and stated that Haletown was “the only one willing to respond” and accept the responsibility of the area. They agreed with the stipulation that one truck and several firefighters were to stay in house in case of a fire in their immediate area.
The discussion that followed the motion clarified the coverage range and the departments that have been responding to the area, as well as why others had not. Commissioner Donald Blansett and Cantrell discussed the surrounding cities, including Kimball and South Pittsburg. There was also some discussion on the types of fires caused by accidents. An audience member spoke out to explain that not all the fires are due to car accidents. Trucks going up Monteagle around this stretch of the interstate, notoriously catch fire and some departments are refusing to respond. These persistent fires must be covered, Cantrell expressed but still recognized the need for departments to cover their own areas.
Cantrell finalized his request to approve the agreement made with Haletown Fire Department and sanction their responding to calls in that five-mile area. This move is to support the area off the interstate as well as Haletown’s immediate area and cover the department all around. This motion was met with a unanimous approval.
The action is expected to lessen the burden on multiple departments. As a result of a specific department being responsible for the area, the dispatchers know who to call instead of calling many departments and receiving no response. This also positively impacts the overall traffic and official departments who respond and direct people around the area to avoid further damages.
Cantrell summarized the decision that he feels “very good and glad that my fellow commissioners supported me.” Collectively coming together, he stated, “we do look out for the county and can all come together and be unified.” In his final statement he conveyed his gratitude to the Monteagle mayor and fire department, as well as Haletown’s board and staff for all supporting the community.