WARNER ROBINS -- For the first time in 17 years, the city’s fire department has added a station.
Station 8 on Ga. 96 opened this week, although there is still some finishing work being done.
Fire Chief Robert Singletary said Warner Robins had six fire stations in 1998. Since that time it has built new stations that were part of consolidating and replacing others, but the total remained at six. Station 8 is the first additional station since 1998, giving the city seven operating stations.
Also since that time, the physical size of the city has gone from 17 square miles to 37 square miles, according to Singletary.
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Lt. Wayne Nelson was working his second shift at the station Thursday and said it will be a big improvement to the department.
“It’s basically going to cut response time in half for a lot of the newer areas of the city,” he said.
The new station cost $1.1 million and was paid for with special purpose local option sales tax dollars. Singletary said he is pleased with the way it turned out.
“It’s an extremely nice station,” he said.
The station is located just west of Moody Road, across from Unity Baptist Church.
It is built with growth in mind. While it will have only one truck initially, it has enough space for a second truck and the additional firefighters that would be needed.
Singletary said that’s in anticipation of the growth that is expected to come with the widening of Ga. 96, which is underway. That’s why, he said, the station is bigger than the other new stations the city has built.
“We are looking at the possibility of a lot of growth in this area, so this station is sitting in a good location for that,” he said.
It’s possible the new station will lower fire insurance rates throughout the city, at least for businesses. Singletary said the city currently has an Insurance Services Office rating of 3. The rating, in which lower is better, is used by insurance companies to evaluate risk and set rates. With the new station, Singletary thinks the city might be able to get a rating of 2, and he plans to request a reevaluation later this year. He said chances are “better than 50 percent” that the city can get a 2 rating as a result of the new station. He wasn’t sure what kind of savings that might mean, but he said it will probably be more significant for businesses than homeowners.
The station has a kitchen, a bunk room with eight beds, a fitness room and a classroom. One feature it has that other stations in the city don’t is specialized equipment for cleaning gear following a fire. Singletary said the equipment will help prevent contaminants from getting on the firefighters when they clean the gear.
A ribbon cutting and open house is planned for the new station by the end of the month, but a date has not been set.
The city’s original station, Station 1 next to City Hall, is no longer in use, but there are plans to make it into a museum for the fire department. The city still has the fire truck that was there when the station opened in 1959.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.