USDA grant, loan helping fund a new fire station for Briceville

  • Joe Woody, left, area director of Rural Develop- ment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Knoxville, listens as Briceville Fire Chief Jamie Brewster discusses details of the department’s new fire station. The Rural Development program is providing most of the money for the $184,900 project. - G. Chambers Williams

  • During a recent ceremony, Briceville Fire Chief Jamie Brewster, second from left, talks about the community’s planned new fire station with, from left, Jim Tracy, Tennessee director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally; and Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank. The Rural Development program is providing a loan and a grant totaling $154,900 to pay for the new station, and Anderson County is contributing $30,000. - G. Chambers Williams

After 41 years in an old building that has become woefully inadequate, the Briceville Volunteer Fire Department finally will get a new home – thanks primarily to a loan and grant from the federal government.

The announcement was made last Wednesday in Briceville.

The department plans to break ground within the next month on a new fire station on Tennessee 16 just west of town that will replace the station just east of town that has housed the department since it was founded in 1978, Fire Chief Jamie Brewster said.

The estimated $184,900 cost of the new steel building to house the department comes from an $80,000 grant and a $74,200 40-year low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency, along with a $30,000 contribution from Anderson County’s budget, said Joe Woody, area director for USDA’s Rural Development in Knoxville.

Woody and other USDA Rural Development representatives joined state and Anderson County officials at a park in Briceville recently to recognize those responsible for helping the department secure the funding for the new station.

Participants included Rural Development Tennessee Director Jim Tracy, whose office gave final approval to the grant and loan application. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally also attended.

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, on hand for the ceremony, thanked those who helped make the new fire station possible.

“I just want to say ‘thank you’ to USDA, and Mr. Tracy,” Frank said. “Your team is an incredible team. I also want to thank our county commissioners. … And most of all, I want to thank the [fire] department. These folks worked so hard.”

Tracy, a former state senator who said his son is a firefighter, told the assembled group, “We’re just glad to be a part of it.”

The department hopes to move into the new station within a year and a half after construction begins, said Brewster, who is in his fourth year as chief.

He said the department has 18 volunteer firefighters and five trucks.

“When I took over as chief, we had one truck that ran and one that just half-ran,” Brewster said. “We’ve been able to upgrade the department and recently received a grant that allowed us to buy new air packs.”

Duties of the department include handling fire suppression and prevention, as well as emergency medical calls.

Brewster, 45, works full time as an equipment operator for the Tennessee Department of Transportation. He previously worked 23 years for A&S Steel in Caryville, which shut down in late 2014. He’s been a volunteer firefighter for Briceville since 2000.

The new fire station will bring upgrades from the current station, including air conditioning, Brewster said. Initially, the station will have two bays for vehicles, but there are plans to add two more later, the chief said.

Architect for the fire station project is Gregory S. Campbell of Design Innovation Architects of Knoxville.

Campbell said the project will go out for bids for construction soon. Excavation work at the site it being donated at no cost, Brewster said.