Fire service in Dawson County’s Liberty community has come a long way from its roots almost four decades ago.
“When there was a fire, the first volunteer to get to the station would write the location down on the chalkboard at the station,” said Lanier Swafford, Dawson County Emergency Services chief. “Anybody else that came to the station, they either followed the water trail the truck was leaking or they read the chalkboard and that’s how they got to the fire.”
Located at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and War Hill Park Road, the station that was built by volunteer fire fighters in 1975, who wanted better fire protection for their community, will close soon.
A grand opening celebration is planned at 4 p.m. Tuesday for the new and improved Station no. 2, which sits just a few miles west on Hwy. 53 and was built to replace the original fire house.
“We’ve been very strapped for a number of years at the original station,” Swafford said. “When they started upgrading trucks in the late 90s, Station 2 was unable to receive an upgraded truck because of the station size.”
Since the county didn’t own the land or the building, the only opportunity to expand the station was to move it.
In 2004, a new station for the area was approved to be funded by the local one-cent sales tax and plans began to replace the station.
About six years later, volunteer fire personnel said they still can’t believe it’s finally happening.
“We’ve waited a long time,” said Lt. Kerry Vanderpool.
Consistently one of the county’s busiest stations, Vanderpool said the ability to have a ladder truck and other equipment that was limited at the original station will “be a great benefit to the area.”
Station 2 is the primary responder for the Ga. 400 corridor.
Also of benefit will be the county’s ability to open the new station with both full time and volunteer personnel.
Billy Thurmond, director of emergency services, said the county’s paid, full time staff that currently operates from Station 3 on Harmony Church Road will move to the new station.
“Station 3 will then return to an all-volunteer station,” he said.
The public is invited to the grand opening ceremony of the new station, which will also house a sheriff’s office precinct and tax commissioner’s annex and tag office to serve eastern Dawson County.Tours will be available.