The Seymour community is growing, and the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department is growing along with it.
Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Ninth District County Commissioner Carson Dailey joined in the ribbon cutting Monday for the remodeled SVFD Station 2, 7915 Chapman Highway at Tipton Station Road.
Others participating were SVFD Chief John Linsenbigler and assistant chiefs Al Leitch and Josh Tucker, state Senator Becky Massey, state Rep. Dave Wright and officials from Sevier and Blount counties. The unincorporated community of Seymour spreads across the intersection of Knox, Blount and Sevier counties.
Linsenbigler thanked the counties’ officials, the SVFD board of directors and “countless” other groups and individuals who donated or discounted labor and materials.
“It’s taken 20 years and several chiefs” to get to these upgrades,” he said, “and they’re 100 percent paid for.”
Someone even donated a popcorn popper to the station.
According to Dailey, the approximately $290,000 remodel started in early March. The Jess Tarwater Memorial Firehall and a stand-alone bay were connected by construction that includes a day room, two bedrooms, a bathroom and storage areas.
The bay was expanded and will have room for trucks from throughout the SVFD to be worked on. Station 2 has one new 1,000-gallon truck with a second expected within 30 days. The parking and traffic area is also to be repaved.
Dailey said there are very few fire hydrants in the SVFD coverage area, but the department has logged the coordinates of each one, and trucks from the other five stations respond when called upon. There are at least two volunteer firefighters at the station at a time, and other volunteers join them when calls come in. SVFD also has a station on Kimberlin Heights Road in Knox County.
According to the department’s website, SVFD serves about 118.6 square miles with nearly 19,000 homes inhabited by 40,794 people, 400 businesses, 70 churches, eight public schools, two private schools and Johnson University. The department will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding in 2021.
Dailey said an unexpected budget surplus made it possible for Knox County to add to its usual contribution to SVFD.
“We have a Memorandum of Understanding to provide $120,000 yearly to help run this station,” he said.
There are 41,000 cars a day passing by on Chapman Highway. Dailey said his next request to the mayor for the SVFD will be for funds to erect flashing lights on the highway to warn motorists when trucks are going out on calls.
“It’s dangerous for these guys to come out of here and try to go onto Chapman Highway,” he said. “So I want lights to stop the traffic when we get calls, which is about three times a day, on average.
“It’s a state highway, so we’ll have to get permission from TDOT to do it.”
Betsy Pickle is a freelance writer and editor who particularly enjoys spotlighting South Knoxville.