Update Jan. 23: The Hall County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted on Thursday, Jan. 23 to purchase 9.6 acres at 3126 Gillsville Highway to relocate Fire Station No. 1. The item was on the commissioners’ consent agenda.
As East Hall grows, Hall County wants to expand its fire services to fit the changing population -- which officials hope to do with the relocation of Fire Station No. 1.
The station, built in 1973, currently sits at 2460 Athens Highway. It was Hall County Fire Services’ first station and once housed county dispatch. But on Thursday, the Hall County Board of Commissioners will vote to acquire a 9.6-acre property at 3126 Gillsville Highway near the former Tadmore Park site and Tadmore Elementary School.
The response area for Station No. 1 will be shifted slightly with the relocation. Properties farther in east Hall will be covered by the new station, while other surrounding stations will then be able to shift their response areas.
The county will pay $265,000 for the land. The property owner agreed to sell to the county after being approached about the fire station, Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix said.
The new station will have three bays instead of two, and there is not enough land at the current station to expand there, Nix said.
Having extra space will also help trucks get out of the station. The building is close to the road at the bottom of a small hill.
“It’s not a signal-controlled intersection or anything. With the traffic volume on 129, both north and south, when they pull out, they have to wait and make sure people see them,” Division Chief Zach Brackett said. “... This station is busy, they run a lot of calls, and it’s difficult to get in and out of.”
And as Athens Highway is widened, more development is expected to move in, which could increase the workload of the fire station.
“We expect to see more growth and more businesses in that area, thus the need,” Nix said.
When placing a new fire station, the county aims to locate it within five miles of most of the people it would be serving. That is one of the criteria for the county’s Insurance Services Office rating.
“ISO dictates what homeowners will pay in their insurance premiums. … The residents that are located outside a five-mile radius will pay more in their insurance premiums,” Nix said.
Hall’s ISO rating is a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest.
The new station will have some additional safety features, including an improved ventilation system in the bay.
“When these trucks crank up, that system cuts on and it filters out all these carcinogens and all the bad contaminants that come out of the exhaust,” Brackett said.
The design for the station is still being finished. Nix said closing on the property is expected within the next 30 days, and construction could start in the spring.
$2.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funding from SPLOST VII will be used for the project.
Commissioners will vote on the land purchase at their meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.