Hall County Fire Services replaced roughly half of its fleet of firetrucks this week with nine new rigs while construction and planning for the department’s two new fire stations continues.
Training on the eight firetrucks and one ladder truck began Tuesday, Jan. 26, with the hope to have these engines on the road by early February, Fire Chief Chris Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the trucks’ arrival was exciting, as it will allow the department to keep trucks in service for longer with fewer expected maintenance issues.
“The more we can keep the trucks on the road, the better service we provide,” Armstrong said. “It’s a milestone for Hall County for sure.”
Funding for the vehicles came through SPLOST, the special-purpose local-option sales tax.
Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley said the aerial truck, worth $1.1 million, came from funds in SPLOST VII while the fire engines were purchased with SPLOST VIII funds. Each engine is worth $740,300.
Armstrong said he felt the county’s board of commissioners “did a really good job of recognizing that we had an issue and really came up with a visionary method to fix it.”
With 19 rigs running every day for Hall County Fire Services, this move replaced nearly half of the fleet. Armstrong said there was not a set timeline for when the remaining fleet would need to be replaced.
Some of the trucks in the department’s fleet were reaching 15-20 years on the road, which Armstrong said was beyond the normal life cycle. As far as the replaced trucks, the chief said they may keep one for the training division, and the department also needs a reserve fleet in case issues arise with another engine.
Armstrong said the aerial ladder truck is for the new Station No. 17.
The board of commissioners approved the use of eminent domain to acquire property on Holiday Road in Buford in March for the station, but Armstrong said the COVID-19 outbreak has caused delays on the project.
“The land has been purchased, the plans are done, the money is there to build it, but we have to talk about revenue sources to staff it,” he said. “Opening a new station means hiring more firefighters.”
Armstrong estimated roughly 20 new hires are needed to open the new station.
The county broke ground Nov. 17 on the new Fire Station No. 1, on Gillsville Highway.
County officials said construction is underway for the station, with Armstrong projecting it to be operational in October.