Knoxville, Knox Co. emergency responders prep for storm

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- At the Knoxville-Knox County Emergency Management Agency, it's all about getting the latest track on the storm. Based on what they're seeing, they plan to open the Emergency Operations Center at 5 a.m. on Friday.

"We'll have 4-wheel-drive teams that will supplement the normal emergency services. And that will help us, particularly when ice storms happen - that really impeads the ability of any kind of vehicle to move," said Allen Lawson, director of the EMA.

The Knoxville Fire Department is prepping its vehicles. The "instant chain" system helps fire trucks get around.

"It's not like the old chains that you wrap around the tire - this is something that's permanently mounted to the apparatus. It drops down onto the ground, the tires roll over the top of the chains, which allow the rear wheels to get better traction," said Captain Mark Wilbanks, with the Knoxville Fire Department.

The fire department said fire trucks will still respond to all fire calls, but 4-wheel-drives with chains on their tires will head out to accident and medical calls.

"It's more cost-effective. If we wreck a 4-wheel-drive vehcile, it's a lot cheaper to repair than if we wreck a several hundred thousand dollar piece of fire equipment," said Wilbanks.

The State Highway Patrol has Humvee, plus it's putting chains on its cruisers. Right now, troopers are trying to clear the roads in advance of the storm.

"Abandoned vehicles - we start tagging the vehicles and we'll start towing the vehicles tonight to get them off the roadway. In case someone does slide off the roadway tomorrow, so there's no vehicle to come in contact with," said Sergeant Stacey Heatherly.

Rural Metro said it's also using chains and will have extra people working.

Officers with the Knoxville Police Department are driving cars with special snow tires. They'll be out on the road before the storm hits.