MOUNT CARMEL — Although no vote was taken Tuesday, the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Aldermen informally agreed to let City Manager Mike Housewright choose the town’s next permanent fire chief.
Whether or not that position will be full time, or remain part time is yet to be determined.
The decision will be easy for Housewright who inherited the man he wants for the job.
Austin Simpson was named interim fire chief when former chief Tim Risner stepped down due to a health issue.
“Chief Simpson has one an outstanding job,” Housewright told the BMA Tuesday. “I’ve talked to him about the position. He is interested in the position at a part time level. Chief Simpson is a firefighter with Bristol. He’s got a great skillset, he’s got a great knowledge, and I’d be very interested in him for the permanent position. There’s a lot to be gained by that.”
Housewright has stated he is a proponent for doing job searches to fill key positions in city government, but he said in the case of fire chief he would prefer to forego a job search in favor of keeping Simpson.
“Chief Simpson has the opportunity to bring the best practices from an organization like Bristol (Fire Department) into our department,” Housewright said. I think that is incredibly valuable as well.”
Simpson has agreed to accept the position, although still negotiating pay and the number of hours to be served, Housewright added.
His appointment hasn’t been finalized, however, ending the completion of a University of Tennessee M-TAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service)
Alderman Carl Wolfe said he’s in favor of naming Simpson full time chief.
Alderman Jennifer Williams said the BMA should allow M-TAS to complete its study to determine if Mount Carmel needs a full time fire chief.
She said the board doesn’t have to follow that recommendation, but it shouldn’t make the decision until that study is completed.
“We may still feel that we need a full time fire chief, but we may then see that we need to add some other job descriptions … we may have to add more duties and some more responsibilities to his job description,” Simpson said.
Housewright said a meeting was previously scheduled with M-TAS to get the study started, but that meeting was cancelled due to an emergency that occurred in another community served by M-TAS.
Housewright said they’re trying to schedule that meeting with M-TAS on a day when Simpson is available as well.
“If we do not have the need for a full time fire chief (M-TAS) can help us build a job description that would incorporate other responsibilities … much like Church Hill has done with Chief (David) Wood,” Housewright said.
Fire Department equipment purchases
In related news Tuesday the BMA agreed to purchase a used ladder truck and a rescue truck for the fire department.
The board is investing $50,000 for fire department equipment upgrades this year so the town can maintain its Level 4 ISO fire insurance rating, which affects fire insurance premiums for all property owners.
The asking price for the Richmond ladder truck was $25,000. The Fire Committee recommended offering $17,050, which was accepted. The truck was appraised at $34,500.
The motor was rebuilt 20,000 miles ago, it has a 75 foot ladder which is 10 feet longer that the town’s current ladder truck, and a 2,000 gallon per minute pump - all of which will earn points toward maintaining the town’s ISO rating.
“This truck, for the money, is absolutely the best value you can find,” Simpson said.
The MCFD’s current ladder truck is a 1986 model who openers seats which Simpson said are now illegal and unsafe. He said the current truck is valued at $5,000 and needs about $6,000 in upgrades.
By keeping the second truck as a backup the town also gain a point toward its ISO study as well.
The new ladder truck will be paid with funds already in the fire budget.
The BMA also approved the purchase of a used walk-in style rescue truck where the MCFD will keep the equipment is is purchasing this year. The truck only has 24,000 miles.
The truck was priced at $10,000, but the Fire Committee offered $8,000 which is tentative approved but must be approved by the seller’s city council.
Assuming the price his approved by the seller, those funds will come from the $50,000 equipment allocation.