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Obion County Makes Changes for Fire Coverage

By Meghan Pinkley
By mpinkley@wbbjtv.com

In less than a month, hundreds of West Tennesseans will have no one to call if their home or property catches fire. It's a controversy that has raged for years. Since Obion County has no county funded fire department, it has fallen to the city departments to respond to fires past their city limits.

After Obion County County's Clerk decided to no longer collect the fire subscription fees because of liability reasons, the county commission had three options: a county wide tax, find someone new to collect fees, or hand the responsibility back to the cities.

"The county took the action they took, which was no action. They decided not to do the tax so we have it back and we are going to continue to provide the service," said Union City Mayor Terry Hailey.

But the Union City Fire Department cannot protect every property in Obion County on its own. Some cities in Obion County have agreed to respond to fire calls outside their city limits while others are still undecided. Either way, there are many residents who will not be protected.

The cities that have agreed to collect fire subscription fees are Union City, Hornbeak, Kenton, and South Fulton. Officials in Obion said they voted to only put out fires inside their city limits. Troy officials said as of right now they will respond to all fire calls until July 2. Samburg is still undecided. We were not able to get in touch with anyone from Rives.

"But all we can really cover is that party of our service area, which is in close proximity to town," added Hailey. In other words, Union City, Hornbeak, and South Fulton will only collect fees and respond to calls for property owners within about five miles of their city limits. That means, everyone else in the county will have no fire service at all.

Mayor Hailey confirmed that anyone in Obion County who is receiving service from the Union City Fire Department will continue to receive that service. Many of the towns in Obion County still have more details to discuss in future meetings before all is finalized.