Ever since Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins developed a strategic plan to enhance fire protection, the county has steadily moved forward to fill in those gaps with plans for new stations across the county.
Bibb leaders Friday broke ground for Fire Station No. 110, which will be built on Heath Road and is the second of three stations to be paid for with money from the special purpose local option sales tax voters approved in 2011.
Its a wonderful day, Riggins said. Weve been looking for the last couple of years to service this area of the western corridor of Bibb County. Well be able to serve citizens better from this location.
The station will cost about $3 million to build and equip and will be the home to a company of a dozen firefighters.
The strategic plan came out of a low rating in 2010 from the Insurance Services Office, which scores a fire department based on its coverage of the area it serves. While the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department scored a 1 -- the best possible ISO rating -- for its coverage in the city, the department got a worse 3/9 designation for the incorporated parts of the county.
Having a poor rating can mean higher insurance rates for homeowners and renters if their residences arent located within 1.5 mile to 5 miles of a fire station, which the ISO recommends.
Riggins said the ISO standards are being revised, so it likely will be another year or two before the department is evaluated again. By that time, the city and county will be consolidated, so the ISO evaluation will be for a single entity. Officials said its too early to say what rating the combined city and county might receive.
Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said the new station will provide greater coverage to residences, businesses and Middle Georgia State College by allowing quicker response time than stations currently providing coverage to the area.
Len Hindsman, who oversees the SPLOST projects for the county, said the new station will save the taxpayers some money, because officials used the same architectural plans with slight adjustments for Fire Station No. 110 that were used to build station No. 109, which will open July 12 on New Forsyth Road. Hindsman said that because firefighters install the sod and irrigation at the stations themselves, it saves additional money.
County officials said bids already are out to build the new station, and they hope it will open within a year.
Officials also are looking at a third SPLOST-funded station that will be located within the city limits, as well as a station off Jeffersonville Road. Officials also want to replace the fire station located on Shurling Drive and rebuild it at a nearby location.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.