Members of the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) joined state and local elected officials on Monday to provide cleaning supplies and food to the Bedford County Fire Department on Prince Street.
The outreach events are part of ongoing work by the SFMO to highlight the work of Tennessee fire departments and first responders across the Volunteer State, according to Kevin Wright, communications director. It’s just a way for the state to hear concerns from these heroes in the community.
The first year for this event, Gary Farley, assistant commissioner of commerce and insurance at the State Fire Marshal’s Office spoke personally with Bedford County Fire Chief Mark Thomas about any needs.
Chief Thomas said, “I just appreciate them recognizing our department...A lot of people don’t understand where we’re at and how we’re growing and the demand it’s put on fire fighters. And they (SFMO) recognize it...They’ve always supported us.”
Thomas has been a part of the Bedford County Fire department for over 40 years. Inspired by his father, who was the first fire instructor hired by the state of Tennessee, Thomas admitted he has some “big shoes to fill.” But has enjoyed his career.
“It’s kind of bred into me. My dad worked for the city of Shelbyville fire department back then...But I’ve enjoyed it; it’s been great,” he said.
Such events are important as counties like Bedford continue to grow and require local support. The chief expressed both excitement and nervousness with the County’s growth.
“You don’t know what all the growth is going to be and to get prepared for that, on the fire side―whether it’s code, fire equipment, the different technologies that come in, how we fight fire we don’t know that part of it. But rest assured, we’ll be ready when it hits us. Education is always on going for us.”
The Bedford County Fire Department (BCFD) serves approximately 46,000 residents within a 482 square-mile radius, according to the county’s official website.
But with more residents coming to stay in the Shelbyville area, stations like this one, manned by 28 employees, prepare for that influx.
In attendance was also Rep. Pat Marsh, Sen. Shane Reeves, and Bedford County Mayor Chad Graham.
Graham, who has a background in emergency medical services, expressed his gratitude toward the department.
“There’s no question, we have to have them. They have stepped up as the demand for them has increased, and we will support them however we can.”
The SFMO also visited fire departments in Cornersville, Lynchburg, and Fayetteville on Monday.
“It’s teamwork from the bottom up,” said Thomas. “A lot of people don’t understand the bond between firefighters.”
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