The La Vergne Board of Mayor and Alderman voted Thursday night not to renew its contract with the city’s rescue unit.
City leaders say the decision came down to finances.
“We now have a full-time fire department with fire personnel who are fully trained to do extrication and that actually has been the sole function of the rescue unit,” said Kathy Tyson, spokesperson for the City of La Vergne told News 2.
In January, La Vergne took control of its fire department which had always been privately owned.
For the first time, it began paying the firefighters who work there. Those paid employees also respond to car crashes along with the rescue unit.
While the 35 member unit, formed in 1970, is strictly volunteer, the city does spend thousands of dollars a year paying for things such as fuel, uniforms and tools.
Some city leaders felt the taxpayers were paying twice.
“The city had to make that decision, do we pay $48,000 a year for a volunteer organization who we love or do we go ahead and let our paid
professionals who are already there and trained to do it?” said Tyson.
City leaders told News 2 La Vergne’s 33,000 residents will not notice a change in response.
“They will still be there; they will handle any kind of rescue situation professionally and with a great deal of expertise.”
City leaders are also proposing starting a new volunteer fire department to help keep its growing community safe.
“It offsets your need for personnel, covering shifts for training, sickness, vacations, things like that,” said La Vergne Fire Chief Rick McCormick
The hope is that members of the La Vergne Rescue Unit, Inc. will be some of the volunteer department’s founding members.
In a statement, Dana Blair, Director of the La Vergne Rescue unit said, “We left it up to the board and that’s the decision it made. For years, we’ve just tried to help our community.”
The contract ends June 30.