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Ribbon cutting for Walt Stephens fire station

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

In an official ceremony, Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson took a pair of giant scissors and snipped the ribbon in front of a newly remodeled fire station.

"This building has been in service for longer than I've been alive," the 37-year-old commissioner said on Friday morning. "I want to know, what happened to the shag carpet?"

Fire Station No. 5, on Walt Stephens Road in Edmondson's district, originally was built in 1970, during the department's first wave of expansion.

The station "reflected the department as it was then," Clayton County Fire Department Chief Alex Cohilas said, at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The renovation, which cost about $400,000, updated the station and made a number of needed repairs.

Since the station was built, the department has diversified and admitted women into its ranks, meaning the stations needed private sleeping quarters, along with bathrooms for men and women.

The department also has changed technologically, Cohilas said, and the updated station has a separate room for equipment storage, a diesel exhaust system, and other safety features that didn't exist 38 years ago.

"You have to remember," Cohilas said, "when we opened this station, we were typing our reports on typewriters."

The station also has changed, since then, in making physical fitness a priority, according to Cohilas. It has a gym where firefighters can work out and prepare for their annual fitness evaluation.

The renovation also included the installation of a new roof, new cabinets, and some new flooring, which had deteriorated with age.

"This is another step," Cohilas said, "in improving our overall facilities."

Edmondson told the gathering of firefighters at the Friday morning ceremony, the station has served the neighborhood well, and the money spent on the renovation should be seen as a sign of the county's appreciation for the work the fire department does.

"You guys truly are saving lives," Edmondson said, "and that doesn't go unrecognized."