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Community welcomes fire station
5 Fire Station pic2
Billy Thurmond, director of emergency services for Dawson County, talks about Fire Station 8 and how it will help fill coverage gaps in the area. - photo by Photo/Elizabeth Hamilton

Dawson County Emergency Services recently welcomed a new member to its family, Fire Station 8.


A ribbon cutting ceremony was held June 29 for the two-bay, 2,000-square-foot facility that sits atop Burnt Mountain in the county’s northwestern corner.


The new station will serve a remote area of the county, which includes the Wildcat community, an association of residents from nine surrounding mountain and forest areas.


Emergency services is looking for volunteers to help run the station, which is not yet fully operational.


In the meantime, officials from Dawson and neighboring Pickens counties hailed the Station 8 project as the latest in the ongoing cooperation between the two areas and their residents.


“This (station) is just one more step in the working relationship between Pickens and Dawson counties,” said Rob Jones, sole commissioner of Pickens. “Through working together in the Big Canoe area, we’ve always had a good relationship with emergency services personnel, as well as the elected officials of Dawson County.”


Dawson Commissioner Gary Pichon and Emergency Services Director Billy Thurmond said the station will play an important role.


“One of the main goals of the county’s fire department is to provide equal protection to people throughout the community and county to the best of our ability,” Thurmond said.


“We are excited about this station because it closes a [coverage] gap for us. I’m sure it closes a gap for Pickens County as well, and it puts people up here in a 5-road-mile area of a fire station.”


The Wildcat community used to be served by Stations 4 and 6, he said, neither of which is close.


Clayton Preble, Wildcat president, led the June 29 presentation of the new fire station, recognizing the efforts of the many contributors.


“The first step to where we are today began with the water tower, which we got a little over two years ago,” Preble said. “It has a fire hydrant outside, just waiting for the opportunity to fill up a fire truck and go fight a fire.”


The second step, he said, was significant due to the cooperation.


“Pickens agreed to provide $45,000 to help get the building off the ground and going,” Preble said. “Dawson came to the table, providing a fire truck and tanker truck, and the Wildcat community raised an additional $45,000 (to assist in completing the project).”


Lanier Swafford, chief of Dawson County emergency services, welcomed the station, but noted that there still is work to be done.


“The building and trucks are two big pieces of the puzzle, but the last piece is you,” Swafford told the crowd. “To open a fire station in the state of Georgia, you have to have a minimum of four people (to make the station operational).”


E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at