Hall County officials broke ground Tuesday, Nov. 17, for the new site of Fire Station No. 1, a space Fire Chief Chris Armstrong said will be more centralized for the residents it serves while being safer for the firefighters inside.
Officials turned over the dirt around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday on 3126 Gillsville Highway, just 2.3 miles from the current station at 2460 Athens Highway.
The current Fire Station No. 1 was built in 1973 and originally served as the department’s headquarters before it moved to Station No. 7.
County administrator Jock Connell spoke at the groundbreaking about how fire stations “tend to become part of the fabric” of the community it serves.
“Station (No.) 1 will always be near and dear to my heart, and I know that every member of this community has their own special memories as well,” Hall County commissioner Shelly Echols said. “Appreciating and remembering the past makes this groundbreaking even more special and exciting.”
The funding, projected to be $3.3 million, will be from SPLOST VII, the special-purpose local option sales tax.
Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix said the county purchased 10 acres of land that adjoins Tadmore Park. Construction on the new station is expected to be finished by next fall.
County officials have touted the improvements to the facility, which include individual bunk rooms for privacy and social distancing. Separate pantries and refrigerators for the three shifts will be part of an upgraded kitchen.
“Additionally, the new station includes a vastly improved mechanical/ventilation system that acts to prevent any carcinogens first responders may encounter on calls from migrating or accumulating in other areas of the station,” county spokeswoman Katie Crumley wrote in an email last week.
Armstrong said some of the new ventilation will utilize “positive pressure.”
“When you open the door, it keeps the air from the bay from going into the living quarters,” he said.
Armstrong said the new location is closer to the majority of the call volume. The boundary lines for the station’s service area involves U.S. 129 and Gillsville Highway to Campground Road.
“Both of (the locations) are busy,” Armstrong said. “Obviously, this is not quite as busy and it’s not a divided highway, so if they have to go in the opposite direction they don’t have to cross multiple lanes of traffic.”