News 12 This Morning / Monday, July 16, 2012
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. -- Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Station No. 15 went into operation this week. The station plans to serve unincorporated areas north and south of the city of Harlem.
The new location will deliver faster service, quicker response times and ensure people in that area are safe and out of harm's way.
Firefighters at Station 15 on County Line Road prepped engine No. 2 as the station officially opened this week.
Chief Paul Cooper of the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue said, "We will have two people on duty 24 hours a day. We have a pumper that is capable of carrying 1,000 gallons of water."
Cooper said their temporary home may not look like much right now, but they have all the essentials.
"This is really going to improve the response time in this area right here. You can see County Line Road right here, goes all the way around the county."
Before, access to this area north and south of the city of Harlem was difficult because not enough roads connect to this area.
"It was a long haul up to this area, and we are responsible for this area," Cooper said.
Pam Tucker, with the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency, added, "We just noticed this building was being foreclosed."
They purchased the land along with the home that was on the land.
"All that for a total of $135,000," Tucker explained. "It's a very good deal."
The county now has access to 5 acres of land, which they plan to build upon.
"It's not a $700,000 fire station, but it does have a fire truck and we can get the job done," Cooper said.
In a few years, the empty field will be transformed into a permanent fire station building, much like Columbia County's other fire stations, once SPLOST funds are approved.
"The growth is coming this way," Tucker said, "So when we look at future growth, we know five, 10 or 15 years down the road, this is where it has got to come."
Firefighters estimate their response time could go from about 10 minutes down to five now that neighbors in the area have a station right down the road.
In a few months, the county will start planning out what the penny sales tax will be able to fund. The county is hoping to include the $700,000 dollar fire station. Voters will need to approve it. The permanent fire station could be up in another two or three years.
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