Valuable Equipment Stolen From E. Tennessee Volunteer Fire Department

SPEEDWELL, Tenn (WVLT) - One East Tennessee volunteer fire department is without valuable life-saving equipment, all because thieves made off with it.

More than five-thousand Claiborne County residents rely on the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department when it comes to fighting fires and saving lives.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman has the story.

It's a neighbors helping neighbors type arrangement with the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department.

Detective Melvin Bayless with the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office says, "They don't get paid anything for their time. They all work full-time jobs come out to the fires, the wrecks."

But sometime last week, thieves, in a not so neighborly fashion, helped themselves to department equipment.

Speedwell Volunteer Fire Chief Dexter Bean says, "The other morning, we went out to a fire, and we discovered that we'd been robbed. We didn't have any of our leaf blowers or chain saws."

Much needed tools to control the fire crews were headed to fight last Sunday morning.

Chief Bean says, "Well, we had saws all and a TV."

Luckily, the stolen saws all wasn't needed in yesterday's wreck where two people were air-lifted out for medical care.

Chief Bean says, "And they stole our gas out of the jugs, and evidently they siphoned out of the trucks. Because we ran out on one truck."

Not good when considering the department serves an 80-square mile area of Claiborne County. An area where residents are depending on their fire service.

Chief Bean says, "They're not stealing off of me. They're stealing off the Speedwell community."

Because before the volunteers formed the department 20-years ago, getting fire coverage on a home in Speedwell was nearly impossible.

Marvin Bean owns a home and business in Speedwell and says, "So everybody can get insurance now. Where they couldn't before and even at a lowered rate you know."

Speedwell's equipment loss is almost five-thousand dollars. Jerry Moat is Fire Chief at the Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Department in Campbell County where thieves robbed his station a couple of years ago of 10-thousand dollars in equipment.

Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Chief Jerry Moat says, "I've been in firefighting for 42-years and stuff like this irks me to no end."

Detective Bayless says there's not a whole lot of evidence.

And it's cases like these, where he says assistance from the community can be helpful.

If you have any information, you are asked to call the Claiborne County Sheriff's Office at 423-626-2501.

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