Cheers erupted from county commissioners, local officials and attendees at Forsyth County Fire Station 6’s hose uncoupling ceremony Monday afternoon.
The event, which traditionally takes the place of a ribbon cutting, marked the grand opening of the county’s 12th fire station.
“Today is a very formal activity for firefighters,” Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman said. “We take where we live and where we work from very seriously … The fire service, after 250 years, is all about tradition, all the way back to America’s first fire chief, Benjamin Franklin.
Any time you receive a new apparatus, you don’t back it into a fire station, you push it by hand into the fire station.
“There’s a great deal of tradition in the fire service.”
Station 6, which took nearly a year to build, has been in use since March 16, though the grand opening gave Forsyth residents a chance to tour the new facility.
The station, which is located on Brookwood Road in the unincorporated Johns Creek community of Forsyth County, was necessary, Bowman said, and funded by the voter-approved special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST VI, and impact fees.
“There was a void in south Forsyth County, and it was an unacceptable response time from the outlying fire stations,” Bowman said. “So, the Board of Commissioners was good enough to fund, as were the citizens here in this county, this fire station.
“We will be here for at least 50 years of serving this community.”
Jason Shivers, division chief of technical services and a spokesman for the department, said before Station 6 was built, three other stations, stations 2, 10 and 14, would respond to emergencies in the area, depending on where the call was.
“Until the opening of this facility, the area was generally covered by Station 10 on Old Atlanta Road,” Shivers said. “If Station 10 wasn’t available, Engine 2 from Fowler Park or even Engine 14 from McFarland Parkway had to respond.
“All had fairly significant response times, especially during busy times of the day with heavy traffic and a growing population in the area.”
In 2015, Station 10 had the second-longest average emergency response time — 6 minutes and 44 seconds — and also saw the second-largest number of dispatches.
Station 14 had an average response time of 6:15.
In 2016, Station 10’s response time increased by almost a minute, to 7:35. Station 14’s response time increased to 6:37, and Station 2’s average was recorded at 6:43.
In addition to having an engine company and a brush truck, the new station serves as an Advanced Life Support, or ALS, location, which means a paramedic will be staffed at all times.
A paramedic has the greatest amount of emergency medical training and the engine has nearly all the equipment one would find on an ambulance, minus the stretcher.
Kristin Morrissey, District 2 Board of Education member, said from an educational and safety standpoint, she welcomes the new station.
“Our school campuses are in use seven days of week, long before the sun rises and well past sunset by both school and community members,” she said. “With that much use, there is always a chance that a safety emergency will occur. Being able to rely on the Forsyth County Fire Department is something we never take for granted.”
District 2 Commissioner Rick Swope said he agrees.
“As a longtime resident of Forsyth County, I have a great appreciation for the dedication and effectiveness of our fire service. I believe we have one of the best emergency response teams in the country,” he said. “The work these men and women do makes us all safer, and I’m excited to welcome Fire Station 6 to District 2.”
Shivers said the 2 p.m. opening was heavily attended, with families touring the station as late at 8:30 p.m.
Another new station, Station 8, is expected to open in April in north Forsyth.
No date has been set for that station’s uncoupling ceremony.