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Tennessee Fire Chief Named as Rural/Metro Interim Manager

KNOXVILLE - Rural/Metro of Tennessee announced Friday it has named Knox County Fire Chief Jerry Harnish as interim division general manager.

Harnish is replacing Rob Webb, who resigned Monday.

Rural/Metro of Tennessee includes emergency operations in Knox, Blount, Loudon, Franklin and Polk counties.

Harnish, who has been Knox County fire chief for six years, has 33 years of experience in fire and emergency operations, according to a news release from Rural/Metro.

As fire chief, he was responsible for protecting 216,500 residents, operating 15 fire stations in Knox County, 12 of which house paramedic engine companies. He managed strategic planning for the department, disaster planning and response, budget and oversight of the chief officers.

Harnish has lived in Knox County since 1980 and is married to Dr. Duree Snapp, a veterinarian in East Knox County.

Webb was one of three Rural/Metro who resigned Monday. John Mills, the division's chief lobbyist, and Dennis Rowe, who oversaw ambulance service for Knox County, also left their jobs.

Rural/Metro, a private corporation based in Scottsdale, Ariz., holds the contract for ambulance and fire service in Knox County, which was most recently renewed last year for five years.

Rural/Metro filed for bankruptcy protection this summer after skipping an interest payment on unsecured bonds that was due in July. Company officials said at the time a reorganization was under way.

Rural/Metro is the largest emergency services provider in East Tennessee with more than 800 employees. Rural/Metro has been Knox County's official emergency services provider since 1985 and has provided the county subscription fire coverage since 1977.



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