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New fire stations to open, bring insurance relief

POSTED: April 28, 2014 12:05 a.m.

A 2 p.m. ribbon cutting today will mark the first day of operations for one of two new Hall County fire stations.

“Fire trucks should be at the station (this) morning,” said District 3 Commissioner Scott Gibbs. “Everybody is very excited and very grateful that the county was able to get them built and staffed in a timely manner.”

Station 3 has been relocated from Short Road to the intersection of Will Wallace Road and Ledan Extension. Station 16, an addition for the department, will open with a ceremony Tuesday. It is at Mount Vernon and Shirley roads.

The $2.6 million in construction funds came from special purpose local option sales tax money as well as fire funding in the county budget.

Station 3 will have one fire engine, while Station 16 will have both an engine and an ambulance. Two people are assigned per vehicle.

The fire department trained 29 new officers in order to provide the manpower to operate the new station, said Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell.

The station construction projects represent the fulfillment of an assurance to homeowners who saw insurance rates skyrocket because of lack of fire coverage. The Insurance Services Office assigned a low safety rating, at a high of nine on a scale of 10.

“They can start notifying their insurance companies immediately that they are now class 4,” Gibbs said, to hopefully bring immediate relief to rates.

Houses more than 5 driving miles from a station are automatically deemed low in safety. However, Gibbs said, the stations won’t ease another safety factor — proximity to hydrants.

“While this should help, it’s not going to help everyone in my district because of the municipal water access,” he said. “It will help everyone who has municipal water that was out of the 5-mile radius.”

Gibbs said about 1,000 homes were affected.

The saga of dropped and skyrocketing coverage is a lesson learned, he said, for future planning: Many homes were in areas previously covered, then lost coverage when a station relocated. The promised station to fill the gap was never constructed, as the recession and austerity measures hit the county.

“I think going forward any relocation needs to be looked (at) to see who’s going to be affected by the gap,” he said.


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