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Fire Department opens
new station in Ellenwood

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

When a shift of 11 firefighters moved into station No. 14, everything was new and clean.

The aqua-green paint was untouched by diesel fumes, in the three-door hanger. All the hoses -- rolls and rolls of them in a long line on a rack -- were new, white and dry. The three stainless steel refrigerators were spotless in the kitchen, and the grill was waiting to be fired-up. In the 11 sleeping cubes, 11 beds were set up for the first time, and out front, in the cold breeze, an American flag and a Georgia flag flapped for the first time.

"It's everything a fire station needs to be, to be comfortable, efficient, and reflect the diversity of the department," said Fire Chief Alex Cohilas, who designed the station. "It's the same as what we did with stations 4, 12 and 9, but there have been subtle refinements to everything."

The fire station off of Anvil Block Road, in Ellenwood, opened in an official ceremony Saturday morning, with Fire Department Chief Alex Cohilas and County Commissioner Sonna Singleton snipping a red ribbon with an over-sized pair of scissors. Singleton said the fire station is a blessing to her district, which has grown a lot, and needs the additional presence of firefighters and paramedics.

"They want to feel safe," Singleton said. "I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to it, and want to thank the fire department for what it's done."

Cohilas said the new station will improve the department's response time on Anvil Block Road and Boulder Crest Road, up to the DeKalb County line. The added station will also help the firefighters at Station No. 2, on Ga. Highway 42, and Station No. 8, on Maddox Road, giving them back-up. Cohilas said he was stationed in Ellenwood in the mid-1970s, during his first years with the department, and he remembers that back-up was always a long time coming.

"We were kind of the lone wolf out here," Cohilas said. "It was always a long time until we got back-up. It was really lonely out here and when you went into a situation, it was like 'kill or be killed.'"

Fire Station No. 14 was also necessary because of the increased industrial development in the area. The land for the fire station, on South Park Boulevard, was donated by McDonald Development, the same company that built the station and owns a nearby warehouse. McDonald Development's senior vice president, Robert Hicks, said there has been substantial growth in the area for the last few years.

"We're just excited to be a part of the growth," Hicks said. "The firefighters have always been kind to us and this was a way for us to give back."

The construction of the fire station cost $1.3 million. It can house 11 firefighters and EMTs per shift, and currently holds an engine company and a med unit. It could also hold a ladder truck, if the department needs to expand.