Time is running out for rural Obion County, Tennessee residents' fire protection contracts, and at least one community fire chief is trying to ensure residents in his portion of the county will keep the service.
Hornbeak fire chief Bob Reavis told Obion County Commissioners this week he will seek approval from his city leaders to begin administering a rural fire service plan.
Historically, the Obion county clerk collected fees and maintained the member database while respective city fire departments responded to rural calls.
Clerk Vollie Boehms stopped accepting the fees a month ago because of liability issues and her interpretation of a state statute.
“Obion County cannot be a third party when there are actually only two parties involved, the county and the cities. I’ve contacted the state concerning this and they say there is not statutory authority for the county to collect the subscription fees for the cities And that’s what I’ve based my decision on.”
Now, with the current rural service contracts ending in July, Obion County residents outside city limits won’t have fire protection. (Except for those in the South Fulton district, which operates its own program)
Reavis wants to operate a similar program. He says, 90% of his department's calls are outside of Hornbeak's city limits and those residents deserve protection.
If approved Reavis’s department will fight every fire regardless of fee payment, unless a fire occurs simultaneously in the city limits. Those who fail to pay the fee will pay a significantly higher response fee than subscribers.
County and City officials will have a final decision on Reavis’s plan June 18th.