Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon told an audience of about 100 people that the new facility, which actually went into operations earlier in the week, offers the latest technology. He said that gives firefighters and EMTs a leg up. The station is located at 750 Cooper Lake Road, near the East-West Connector.
Even if you’re getting ready to have a heart attack, we’re gonna be rolling,” he said. “I’m kidding … It’s gonna make the area so much safer.”
The station is designed to provide faster emergency response times to residents in the southwestern part of the city. Smyrna Fire Chief Jason Lanyon said firefighters can be expected to reach some homes in the area, mostly south of the East-West Connector, in half the time they could before the station opened, when the closest fire station was about two-and-a-half miles away.
“The impact on response time can mean the difference between life and death,” Lanyon said.
While Smyrna replaced its Station No. 3 in 2005, this is the first additional station the city has added since Station No. 4 in 1991. Lanyon said the city responded to around 1,500 calls that year, compared to more than 5,000 last year.
Cobb County Fire Chief Sam Heaton said the new station will help some residents in unincorporated Cobb as well, since the city and county have a mutual aid agreement to assist each other.
“We have a great working relationship with the Smyrna Fire Department and always have,” Heaton said. “We think it will improve response in the area, whether it’s in the city or county.”
The city has added six firefighters to man the station.
The station cost $1.7 million, with $350,000 of that coming from the city’s general fund and the remainder from a federal stimulus grant. In addition, a $600,000 federal grant is covering two years of salaries for the new firefighters, which includes the training the firefighters went through in the previous year.
Along with serving as a base for fire operations, the station will also feature a meeting room that is available to the public. It features a television that can be hooked up to tablet or laptop computers for presentations. Councilman Ron Fennel, a resident of the nearby Vinings Estates development, plans to have a town hall meeting there next month. He said that also helping the city are five new Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles, which go out instead of fire trucks on non-fire emergency calls. Not having to send a large fire truck saves time and gas money for the city.
“This is a great addition to Smyrna,” said Fennel, who serves as chairman of the city’s public safety committee. “It reduces response time, enhances visibility and gives citizens a high-degree of comfort in knowing they have resources nearby.”
Smyrna has a fire and rescue budget of just over $6 million, which makes up 8 percent of the city’s overall budget, city spokeswoman Jennifer Bennett said.
The money to build the station that came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was initially applied for by former City Administrator Wayne Wright without consent of the mayor or council, shortly before Wright left Smyrna’s government in July 2009. As a result of the confusion over the issue, the city changed its policy to require staff to get council approval before submitting grant requests.
Saturday’s grand opening also included an art contest and food provided by Firehouse Subs and Chick-fil-A. Attendees included Smyrna City Council members Melleny Pritchett, Andrea Blustein, Charles Welch, Susan Wilkinson and Wade Lnenicka and state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna).