Franklin/Simpson Co. Fire Dept. Merger Delayed

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A decision on whether or not to merge the Franklin and Simpson County Fire Departments will be delayed at least three months while leaders from both city and county governments weigh their choices.

The two departments split five years ago during a period of what Simpson Co. Judge-Executive Jim Henderson calls "infighting and miscommunication." Henderson says a new spirit of cooperation has led to join training exercises that both he and Franklin Mayor Jim Brown consider critical. Henderson says the turnout from county firefighters has begun to slow slightly in the last few months, but he says that issue is "being addressed."

Brown and Henderson both admit a merger might not save taxpayers any money, but could lead to a streamlined fire department leadership team and a more efficient fire protection service.

The Mayor and Judge-Exec. say issues like who would run the department, how the resources would be merged, and how the department would be funded are all potential roadblocks, as well as concerned citizens who worry rural fire service might be harmed by a merger. Henderson says that concern is unfounded because the county's headquarters are currently located in downtown Franklin, and that would not change.

The Franklin City Council and the Simpson Co. Fiscal Court will meet together in June. No decision is expected before then.