The Board of Mayor and Aldermen amended an old city code that required for all firemen hired by the City of Manchester to be a resident of Coffee County. The board unanimously changed code 7-308 on Tuesday, Oct. 2 to allow the city of hire firemen who live within a 100-mile radius of the city.
This encompasses Nashville and Chattanooga.
“The problem is, it currently says Coffee County,” said Vice Mayor Ryan French. “You have to live within Coffee County. This opens up the pool for competition and qual. People for the job. It simply opens up the candidate pool. There’s no secret there’s a massive list to get onto fire departments.”
Manchester Fire Rescue Chief George Chambers explained that the department is hiring, but ran into problems doing so because of the residency requirements. He explained that he has nine potential hires, but 75 percent of them likes outside of the county.
“Why would I force you to live in Coffee County? That’s really not fair to the people,” Chambers said. “It just expands our pool of qualified people.”
Aldermen Chris Elam agreed and added that it isn’t right to force people to live in Coffee County if they work in the county.
However, with firefighters living so far away, the question was raised if they could be treated the same with being on call and if they would be able to effectively respond to emergencies.
Chambers assured the board that the firefighters will be treated fairly and equally, no matter where they live.
The other option, which was not popular with the board, was to say firefighters are allowed to live anywhere, within reason. Because they would not be able to define “within reason” without setting a precedent, BOMA decided to on the 100-mile boundary.