Rural Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish and Knox County officials including Mayor Glenn Jacobs have officially opened the new fire station at 5651 Strawberry Plains Pike near John Sevier Highway.
It’s a relocation of Station 27 that was in the Forks of the River Industrial Park.
Harnish said the new station will improve response times to the residential area around the industrial area and reduce insurance premiums to Rural Metro subscribers in neighborhoods previously too far from other stations.
“Our first responders are critical to Knox County,” said Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “Giving them a better location and equipment enables them to do an even better job of protecting our citizens and their property.”
The station was custom-built. It includes sleeping quarters, a workout facility and an open space for cooking, dining and relaxing.
Captain Mike Palmer was on duty in early afternoon as community members continued to drop by for the all-day open house. Palmer is a Rural Metro veteran, having previously worked in Powell before joining Station 27.
Garrett Dobbs, a firefighter and emergency medical technician, and Jody Strange, a firefighter and paramedic, were also on duty. Strange said the service area for the new station runs “from the interstate to the city line and all the way to Chapman Highway (through a mutual aid arrangement with the Seymour Fire Department).”
The new fire station houses a pumper and a squad truck that carries specialized equipment for hazardous materials incidents and other emergencies.
Rural Metro Fire is a private fire department serving most of Knox County outside the city of Knoxville through contracts with property owners for service. Property owners not having a contract with Rural Metro Fire will still receive services when needed, but at a higher fee per call. Homeowners and businesses interested in subscribing can call 865-560-0239.
The new station was funded entirely by Rural Metro. No tax dollars were involved, said Captain Jeffrey Bagwell. Rural Metro is part of AMR, which provides emergency ambulance service for all of Knox County.
Rural Metro Fire Captain Mike Robinson Jr. and others will meet at 11 a.m. today (12/26) at Fire Station 10, 9746 Parkside Drive, to present proceeds from tee-shirt sales to wives of firefighters suffering from breast cancer.
Bagwell explains: Captain Robinson has sold breast cancer awareness tee shirts to the firefighters of Rural Metro in Knox County for several years. The crews are allowed to wear the shirts in the month of October to bring awareness of the need for a cure for breast cancer.
“He saved the proceeds from the sales, not knowing what to do with them, but wanting the money to make a difference,” Bagwell said. Then Robinson discovered two firefighters – one from Rural Metro and another from the Knoxville Fire Department – whose wives have the disease.
“Oddly enough, Mike knows them both. He wanted to give this money to them to use during this time of need, and he wants the theme to be Firefighters Taking Care of Firefighters.”