City Department Responses to COVID-19
Please read through to learn what steps police, fire, public works and customer service are taking to keep the public and employees safe
KINGSPORT, TN –
Essential services to the citizens of Kingsport are being altered to take precautions with the current COVID-19 pandemic. The departments that deal primarily with the public have taken steps, expected to be in place for the next 6-8 weeks, to protect both employees and residents.
Kingsport Police Department
In light of current events, citizens should rest assured that the Kingsport Police Department is still responding to emergencies and other citizen calls for service and will continue to do so. With that in mind, for the time being, citizens may notice some minor changes in police interactions. For example:
- Whenever possible, routine reports, especially those non-criminal in nature, may be handled over the telephone.
- Whenever possible, officers may avoid entering homes, and instead communicate with citizens outside, unless it is absolutely necessary to enter the residence.
- Whenever possible, officers will try to observe the recommended 6-foot distance from citizens and avoid shaking hands.
- The Kingsport Justice Center will remain open; however, citizens are respectfully requested to not come to the Justice Center unless absolutely necessary. If your need can be handled via telephone, please call.
- If you absolutely need to come to the Justice Center, please consider remaining in your vehicle, calling upon arrival, and allowing an officer to come out to you.
We currently are and will continue to follow CDC recommended guidelines, particularly those involving hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), and social-distancing. Some internal precautions that have already been put into place include:
- All non-essential training and travel has been suspended.
- Disposable equipment is being utilized as much as possible.
- Disinfecting stations have been created for proper cleaning of persons, vehicles, and other equipment.
- Community relations programs such as citizen ride-alongs and Justice Center tours have been suspended.
To reiterate, none of these changes will affect the Kingsport Police Department’s ability to respond to emergencies or other citizen calls for service.
For questions regarding K.P.D., please reach out to Tom Patton at 423-229-9433.
Kingsport Fire Department
The K.F.D. is making every effort to limit the exposure to employees.
- All business travel has been suspended; supervisors will question employees on travel plans from now until the end of June; recommend self-quarantine if employee shows any signs or symptoms
- All public education programs have been suspended
- Routine fire inspections, unless vital, have been suspended
- Recruitment school has been suspended
- Only in-house and online training permissible
- All stations have secured main entrances – no guests beyond the foyer and bay doors to remain closed at all times
- All employees must enter through main entrance each shift and complete the health questionnaire and have their temperature taken
For questions regarding K.F.D., please reach out to Barry Brickey at 423-224-2820.
Kingsport Public Works
The Kingsport Public Works Department is essential to providing basic services to the citizens of Kingsport on a daily basis. The city is committed to the health and safety of all citizens and customers so all essential services will continue to operate throughout this event.
Understanding that access to clean water is key to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, Kingsport will keep water on for all customers despite unpaid utility bills during this event.
Within Public Works Operations, the primary focus at the present time is to prevent the spread of the virus among our employees. The steps that have been taken include:
- Suspended all large group meetings
- Limited group gathering to the crew level size
- Offset shift schedules in larger divisions by increments of 30 minutes
- Assignment of work tasks remotely via the Cartegraph system
- Increased disinfectant of surfaces at division locations
- Increased signage encouraging preventative measures (social distancing, hand washing, coughing/sneezing etiquette)
The following actions have been taken to limit public interaction:
- Suspension of the Historic Zoning Commission and Gateway Commission
- Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals have moved to the Civic Auditorium to provide adequate social distancing standards
- Earlier in the year, to secure the building and provide limited access to the building division, planning division and GIS was completed
Emergency preparation is underway to ensure critical staffing levels are maintained within the water, wastewater and sanitation divisions.
For questions regarding public works, please reach out to Ryan McReynolds at 423-229-9471.
Kingsport Customer Service
Kingsport Customer Service is essential to city operations. Several steps are being taken to protect employees and customers.
- Effective March 16, all late payments and all penalties are suspended to minimize the public traffic at city hall. While service will not be terminated during the extended period, customers will still be billed for water and wastewater services and past-due balances will continue to accrue if payment is not made.
- When operations return to normal, customers will be asked to sign a payment agreement for any unpaid water/utility bills. An extension from 6 months to 12 months for the agreement timeframe has been put in place.
- For customers needing new service, customer service will try to work with the customer to get the needed documentation through email and text.
- As of March 18, a plexiglass barrier was installed to separate employees from customers to reduce spread of germs.
- Enhanced cleaning routines have been established throughout the customer service department.
Customers have several options available to pay their utility bills:
- Pay in person at the Justice Center
- Pay online at the city website KingsportTN.gov
- Pay over the phone by calling (423) 343-9860
- Drop box located outside city hall
- Mail to PO Box 880, Kingsport, TN 37662 or 225 W Center Street, Kingsport, TN 37660
For questions regarding customer service, please reach out to Lisa Winkle at 423-229-9335.