United Communications joined local first responders last week to celebrate the completion of a free fiber service installation project at the Flat Creek Volunteer Fire Department headquarters in Shelbyville.
Firefighters and support staff now have fast, reliable internet connections to assist their efforts in keeping the community safe.
United Communications is a local internet provider that’s celebrating its 77th year serving Middle Tennessee. The company has provided free fiber internet installations and service to a total of ten regional fire stations as part of Project UNITE — an initiative to connect every rural, underserved home and business in its service area with broadband internet access.
“We’re grateful for all our first responders in Middle Tennessee, including those who volunteer time outside of their jobs to keep us safe,” said United’s President and CEO, William Bradford. “A firefighter’s work never stops, and they depend on resilient connections to carry out their duties.
“We’re honored to support the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect ours.”
“This is very important to Bedford County,” said Bedford County Fire Chief Mark Thomas, who also serves as a county commissioner. “Technology has become increasingly important to fire protection, with programs such as Active 911 helping provide firefighters with information about the site of a fire and the surrounding neighborhood. Knowing that one hydrant can provide only 100 gallons of water per minute while another can provide 500 can make a difference when seconds count.” Thomas continued to say that the area served by the Flat Creek station often has “hit or miss” service when it comes to both cell phones and emergency radio frequencies—making a powerful and reliable broadband connection to the fire hall even more critical.
Tracey Strassner serves as a co-chair on the Connect Bedford broadband committee, which partnered with United Communications on the Flat Creek installation project. She stressed the importance of local public-private partnerships that help expand essential services like broadband to rural communities.
“Improved connectivity has a profound impact on all aspects of quality of life for the residents of Bedford County,” explained Strassner. “We are both committed to continue working together to bring Broadband to our rural communities.”
Volunteer and rural fire departments play a crucial role in providing fire safety in Tennessee, where more than 75 percent of all fire departments are staffed entirely by volunteers. Rural fire departments must maintain a requisite number of volunteer members who are required to meet and maintain high standards of training, all without compensation.
In addition to facilitating connections with the communities they serve, broadband access helps rural fire departments recruit new volunteers, provides them with online training resources, and helps personnel stay in touch with their loved ones while on duty. The presence of broadband service at a fire station can also impact ISO ratings in ways that favorably affect homeowner’s insurance costs for local residents.
United Communications is currently expanding its fiber network in Middle Tennessee with an estimated $100 million investment in 2024, including more than $53 million in grant funding to increase connectivity across eight counties in the region, including Bedford County.
Other Middle Tennessee fire stations receiving free internet service through Project UNITE include:
- Unionville Volunteer Fire Department
- Chapel Hill Fire Station in Marshall County
- Station 7 (Bear Creek Rd.) in Maury County
- Williamson County stations: Station 15 (Flat Creek), Station 18 (College Grove), Station 17 (Bethesda Rd.), Station 23 (Thompson’s Station), Station 24 (Goose Creek), Station 28 (Peytonsville Rd.)
More information about United Communications and Project UNITE can be found online at united.net.
This press release was provided by Dawn Hobbs, Manager of Community Engagement for United Communications.