County, cities celebrate pair of new fire stations

DACULA - With the addition of two new fire stations in the county, Gwinnett firefighters say they are better prepared to serve the community.

County commissioners, community members and firefighters gathered at two recently completed fire stations in Dacula and Grayson on Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the two buildings.

"We build these fire stations with the hope we won't have to use them, but we know we will," said Chairman Charles Bannister. "These stations took about $3.75 million to build. Some may say that's a lot of money, but it's not when you think of the purpose it serves."

Builders broke ground on the stations in August. Nearly 10 months later, ceremonial ribbons were cut for both fire station No. 27 located at 2825 Old Fountain Road in Dacula and station No. 8 at 2295 Brannan Blvd. in Grayson.

Fire Chief Steve Rolader said the stations will serve their immediate areas and help other stations in the county when it is needed.

"I think both these stations are going to be extremely busy," Rolader said. "And this is just the next step in the community's ongoing commitment to public safety - and we appreciate it."

Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said both stations measure about 8,800 square feet with a large bay for fire equipment, a fitness room, individual bunk room cubicles and commercial-grade appliances.

"Both facilities will allow the department to enhance response capabilities and available resources to meet the needs of the citizens of Gwinnett County," Rutledge said of the new stations.

While station 27 was built to provide greater public safety means for the Dacula area, station 8 was a relocation due to the widening of Ga. Highway 20. The new station is about a 5,000-square-foot increase from the previous station on Herring Road.

"Station No. 8 houses a single-engine company and a medic unit/ambulance and has six personnel per 24-hour shift for a total of 18 firefighters assigned to the station," Rutledge said. "Station No. 27 will house a single-engine company and has four personnel per 24-hour shift for a total of 12 firefighters assigned to the station."

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said the land purchase and construction projects for both facilities were funded by the voter-approved special purpose local option sales tax.

"These departments were provided by the people, and this offers the chance to give back service to the area," Beaudreau said. "We hope the folks around here will have better response times as well as better insurance rates having the new station here."

Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks and Bannister said they both attribute these station additions to the voters in Gwinnett.

"I live right next door to station 16, and I hear every time they go out, and they go out a lot. They (the firefighters) do a great job," Wilbanks said. "This is just another step for public safety in Gwinnett County."

Grayson Mayor Jim Hinkle said he's proud of the new station and the work the firefighters that run it are doing.

"We love our fire station and we love our firefighters," Hinkle said. "We have really done well."