After working for more than a year out of neighboring Dawson County, some members of the Forsyth County Fire Department are coming home.
On Friday, a firehose uncoupling ceremony was held for the new Forsyth County Fire Station 8 on Keith Bridge Road (Hwy. 306 east), which had been closed for more than a year as a crew replaced the former station, which was originally built in 1984 for volunteer firefighters on land adjacent to the new station.
"The fast-paced lifestyle of an urban environment has not yet made it this far north. Farmers still tend their crops and neighbors help neighbors when in need," Fire Chief Danny Bowman said. "It is in this neighborly lifestyle that we establish this beautiful new engine house.
"Fire Station 8 will be the center-point of public safety at this same location for a half-a-hundred years or more."
During his remarks, Bowman thanked the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners for their support of public safety and Dawson County's commission, fire department, and Fire Chief Lanier Swafford.
While renovations were taking place, firefighters from Station 8 worked out of Dawson County Fire Station 2, just across the county line.
"Over the past 14 months as we razed the tired, old volunteer-era Station 8 and rebuilt on this same site, our brothers and sisters in Dawson County welcomed us to operate from their Fire Station 2," Bowman said. "Not surprisingly, the fraternity established in the fire service over the past 250 years in America is alive and well in Georgia."
Station 8 was built with four fire apparatus stalls, which is larger than currently needed to allow for growth. Attendees at the ceremony also had a chance to tour the new facility.
The station was built at the same time as Fire Station 6 in south Forsyth, which held an uncoupling ceremony in March. Hussey Gay Bell was the architect for the stations, and construction for both was done by D.A. Edwards and Company Inc.
The new stations cost a total of about $5.6 million and was paid for with SPLOST VI and impact fees funds.
Chestatee Elementary School sits about 1.3 miles away from the station, and Principal Polly Tennies told attendees "safety is a huge thing when you are the principal of an elementary school with 1,000 children," and said minutes could feel like a lifetime waiting for an ambulance.
"Knowing that my partner is right down the road here for the children of the Chestatee community fills my heart, and I sincerely thank you for investing in this safety for our children," Tennies said. "As I was walking and looking at some of these fine trucks, I was thinking, ‘I can't wait until the kindergarten can come here and see them for themselves.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, whose district the station is in, asked volunteer-era firefighters to step forward during the event to be recognized and thanked the community for their patience as work was completed.
"We can't get everything done in the county as quick as we want it to happen," Mills said. "It's been a long time in the making, but it is worth the wait and I am so thankful it is here."
Also speaking at the ceremony were Commission Chairman Todd Levent, Sheriff Ron Freeman and District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan. The invocation was led by Capt. Shane Milford, and Dawson County Training Chief Danny Speaks did the ceremonial first flag-raising while north Forsyth High School's Kendall Sosebee sang the national anthem.