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2 fire stations open to help improve response times

POSTED: May 5, 2014 12:16 a.m.

For 10 years, Lt. Phil Bowman served at the Hall County Fire Department’s Station 3, a 30-year-old structure meant to be temporary. He’s now a shift supervisor at the newly-minted Station 16.

“It’s a huge change,” he said, at the station on Shirley Road and Mount Vernon Road.

The North Hall station, as well as a relocated Station 3, became operational April 27 with back-to-back ribbon cuttings ceremoniously ushering in the construction projects last Monday and Tuesday.

Builders broke ground in September, and the timeline went as anticipated.

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

One of the most noticeable differences is space, Bowman said, who has been with the department for about 15 years.

“The bays in particular,” he said. “We had enough room for two trucks in the bay with hardly any room to walk around — front or back of — where as here we’ve got a lot of room inside the bays.”

The bay at Station 16 houses an ambulance and two trucks, which includes a ladder truck that can reach 100-foot heights, as well as workout equipment to help maintain fitness.

For nearby residents, the stations importantly mean lower insurance rates, which the Insurance Services Office determines based largely on driving miles to a station.

“The response times to some of these places will be tremendously quicker, especially down the Shirley Road area,” he said. “It used to take us a good while to get down to Shirley Road, down in the Blueberry Hills subdivision and all, it’s a long way.”

About 80 percent of calls are medical, he noted. With a few exceptions, every firefighter has emergency medical training.

“The community seems to be very excited about the opening of the stations,” Bowman said. “There were quite a few community members at the grand opening the other day, and they’ve really been excited for quite a while.”

There are six firefighters total on shift, including the supervisor; Station 3 maintains a slimmer staff of three per shift.

Lt. Eddie Stowers, a 20-year department veteran, didn’t spend as much time toiling in the old Station 3, but he’s happy nonetheless to be in new digs.

“It’s nice. Everything is shiny and new,” he said at Station 3’s Will Wallace Road and Ledan Extension location.

There was one caveat, he said.

“Everything has to be organized. Everything. It needs to be set up and organized,” he said, with cheerful exasperation.

Housekeeping aside, he said there was a sense of camaraderie being a part of a project from the ground up. And camaraderie is a huge part of fire fighting, Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said. While the station is a relief for homeowners who will see lowered rates, it’s also to the overall benefit of the firefighters who live and work in the station on 24-hour shifts.

“I tell a lot of folks that the outside says fire station ... but inside, this is a home,” Cagle said. “They live a third of their lives inside this building.”

“They’re together. Sleeping in the same bunk room together; eating together; preparing their meals together; running calls together,” he added. “It is a fire station and a building to the public and it lowers their insurance, but it is a second home to us.”

The fire department trained 29 new officers in order to provide the manpower to operate the new station.

Those graduates are now in emergency medial services training, Cagle said.

Tour of new fire stations


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