By Daniel Silliman
The Clayton County Fire Department will be holding an open house and a ribbon-cutting on Friday, to show off the newly remodeled Station No. 5.
The station, at 2135 Walt Stephens Road, was renovated, along with Station No. 8, at 6700 Maddox Road, at a combined cost of about $920,000. Both fire stations were built during the department's first wave of expansion, around 1970, and were badly in need of renovation and updating, according to fire department officials.
"When you walked in," said Capt. Landry Merkison, "you could tell it was built in the '70s."
When the department closed the two stations for renovation in 2007, Fire Chief Alex Cohilas said the stations needed to be updated to current fire-fighting standards and expanded to house the full force of firefighters and paramedics currently covering the county.
"We're excited," Cohilas said, "that we have brought this facility into the 21st Century. Station 5 now has the technological capabilities of our newest stations: A work-out area for our firefighters to maintain their fitness and improved living quarters, which reflects the diversity of our workforce."
The renovation of the two stations comes during what may be considered a small expansion by the department, as the remodel and expansion jobs preceded the opening of a new fire station, Station No. 14, on South Park Boulevard.
The $1.24 million construction in Ellenwood is underway and may be finished in July, according to the fire department. The new station will serve the northeastern quarter of the county, strengthening the fire engine and medic response times in what was, previously, an under-protected area.
It will house an engine company, a ladder-truck company and a medic unit, with 11 firefighters per day.
Station No. 5 houses five firefighters per shift, and responds to more than 1,400 emergency calls each year, according to the department.
The remodeling included a new roof, an expansion, a diesel exhaust system in the garage, an equipment room, a gym, a women's bathroom and private sleeping quarters. When originally built, the fire department did not hire women.
Merkison said the station was "a lot better," after the work was finished, and a "huge improvement."
The work was done by Whitworth Construction. The ribbon will be cut on the remodeled Station No. 5 at 10 a.m., on Friday.