By Daniel Silliman
After about $600,000 in renovations, the Clayton County Fire Department has re-opened Station No. 8, on Maddox Road.
The station has been expanded and brought up-to-date, leaving the fire department with mostly new and newly renovated stations.
"We're in pretty good shape," said Battalion Chief Landry Merkison. "Our call volume is increasing steadily, from 1,200 to 1,500 calls a year for the last five years. The demand is increasing, but the board of commissioners has done a terrific job in putting public safety first, and you can see that looking at our facilities and our fleet."
The Maddox Road firehouse, serving unincorporated Morrow, Rex and a little bit of Ellenwood, is the second newly renovated and re-opened station this year. Station No. 5 was also expanded and renovated, and both projects started in April 2007. Both renovations included replacing interiors originally built in the mid-1970s, repairing deteriorating parts of the buildings, expanding the buildings, and bringing them up to current standards.
"The stations got complete makeovers," Merkison said. Both renovations saw more space dedicated to fitness training and housing units suitable to today's gender equality. Where the old stations had all the firefighters sleeping in a large room and sharing showers and bathrooms, the fire fighting force of the early 21st Century includes men and women, so the new stations have sleeping cubicles and separate bathrooms.
Station No. 8 houses two engine companies and one medic company. It would have been finished in May, but construction was delayed by problems with the driveway, Merkison said.
"We had to redo the front ramp," Merkison said. "When the trucks started rolling, it started cracking. So we had to dig it up and restart."
Later this month, the department will also open a rebuilt Station No. 14, in Ellenwood. With the opening of the new station, 13 of the 14 stations will have been built or renovated in the last 20 years.
The only station still dating from the 1970s will be Station No. 6, on Panhandle Road in Hampton, according to the battalion chief.