LA VERGNE, Tenn. -- La Vergne city officials approved spending $4 million Tuesday to purchase the privately owned and contracted La Vergne Fire Department Inc.
The purchase includes three fire stations, vacant land for another fire hall on Old Nashville Highway and two ladder trucks, as well as a tower truck, pump truck, fire engine and rescue vehicle.
As part of the deal, the city was able to terminate a 10-year contract that was signed in September 2010 with the privately owned fire department. The contract included stipulations that the amount paid would increase by $400,000 annually, ultimately leading to an unsustainable price for the city, officials said.
“Although we are paying what seem to be significant funds up front, we anticipate that we will save millions of dollars over the next several years,” said Bruce Richardson, who serves as the city administrator of La Vergne. “We will be able to control costs better and be in a position to hire more firefighters to provide better service to our citizens.”
The privately owned fire department has been in operation since 1965 when it was founded by A.C. Wintermeyer and James Gafford. La Vergne was only one of two remaining privately held fire companies in the state prior to the purchase.
La Vergne Mayor Senna Mosley said the number of firefighters supporting the city would be one of the key factors in determining the Insurance Services Office rating, which provides statistical information on safety risks.
“We have strived to bring retail to La Vergne,” Mosley said. “Hiring more firefighters and upgrading our infrastructure by replacing the 2-inch water lines will put us well on the way to lowering our ISO rating.
“The lower the rating, the less homeowners and businesses should pay for insurance premiums. This also means we will be more attractive to commercial development.”
Officials said all personnel who worked for the private company are being offered full-time positions with the city and resignations are expected to be minimal. Additional firefighters will be hired within the next year in order to change to a three-shift operation of 24 hours on, 48 hours off.
The city named Rick McCormick, who has served as the emergency services coordinator for La Vergne for the past 12 years, as the new fire chief. Prior to holding that position, he served as a fire marshal for the city of La Vergne.
In addition, McCormick has been with the La Vergne Fire Department for 27 years, including service as a firefighter, lieutenant, engineer, captain, and, most recently, assistant fire chief for eight years.
“The experience Rick (McCormick) brings to the position of fire chief is unparalleled,” Mosley said. “When the selection committee informed me about their decision, I knew we were hiring the best person for the job.”
His years of hands-on experience, she said, include firefighting, emergency medical services work, training and more.
“I am also fully confident and pleased with the firefighters we are bringing to the city as new employees,” Mosley said. “I welcome all of them to our city family.”