Gary Patty remembers when daytime fires presented the biggest challenge for Forsyth County Fire Station 4.
“If we could muster four or five people, we were lucky,” Patty said. “I worked down in Atlanta and couldn’t get up here.”
The Ducktown community fire station was volunteer-only when he signed up in 1980.
That same site, off of Canton Highway near the Cherokee County line in west Forsyth, welcomed a new Station 4 during a ceremony Wednesday. It opens as the department celebrates its 40-year anniversary this month.
“This is the facility we’ve needed for some time,” Patty said. “It’s going to be great.”
The old Station 4 was built in 1974 and expanded in 1990, according to information provided by the local fire department. The structure will remain on the property and be used for storage.
County Commissioner Pete Amos, who represents the district, said the property is special to him since it was once the site of Ducktown Elementary School, which he attended and at which his wife later taught.
Amos said he could also remember when the volunteer firefighters joined together in Ducktown, which was one of the first county stations.
“This fire station is going to bring a lot of improvements to this community,” he said.
Fire Chief Danny Bowman said the station is expected to serve the needs of the area for at least 50 years, but also recognizes the historical significance.
“We’ve taken care that this new engine house dovetails with that heritage,” Bowman said. “By design, the new fire station is modern, yet modest. Comfortable, yet efficient.”
He noted that officials broke ground on the site exactly a year prior to the traditional hose uncoupling ceremony grand opening Wednesday.
The new 7,333-square-foot facility was funded through voter-approved 1-cent sales tax revenue and impact fees charged to developers.
It was built by Lovvorn Construction for about $1.25 million.
The station features larger bays to house the engine and other equipment, a ventilation system to clean the air and a design that allows for 24-hour occupancy. The 1974 station wasn’t built with that consideration.
Patty said the sleeping quarters in the new station will be the most welcome improvement for firefighters, since the old building couldn’t accommodate everyone.
The firefighters may not get much sleep in the station known as “The Night Train,” since night calls come in much more frequently, he said.
In the modern days of the department, though, a daytime fire won’t be a problem for the full-time staff of Station 4.