Hall County Fire Station #7 was officially re-opened in Gainesville Thursday afternoon, with several county officials and Fire Service members on hand for the ceremony.
The building on East Crescent Drive was originally constructed in 1983, serving as battalion and fire administration headquarters until 2004. The station was closed for the better part of last year while a number of renovations were undertaken.
Fire Chief Jeff Hood led the ceremony, which was attended, in part, by county Commissioner Jeff Stowe, county Administrator Randy Knighton and assistant Administrator Marty Nix.
Following an opening prayer, Hood spoke briefly from behind a podium before inviting county and department officials to join him in officially opening the refurbished building. The officials joined together in uncoupling a fire hose that had been laid in front of the building's entrance, a tradition Hall County Fire Services Dep. Chief Mark Arnold said was long-standing.
"We looked at something to make it fire service-oriented," he explained. "Where everybody cuts a ribbon with a big pair of scissors, we tried to align that with something in fire services that we use, and that was uncoupling a hose."
Capt. Zach Brackett, who gave multiple tours of the newly-refurbished facility, said many of the changes were made in order to increase the building's energy efficiency.
"For instance, we replaced all the windows," he explained. "They were the original windows from 1983, so they had to be replaced."
Brackett said any carpeting or tiling was also removed during the overhaul.
"This is a government building, it's a county building and it's a fire station, but we have 10-12 people living here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year...we're a little rough on carpet, so we got rid of that," he added.
The station is also using tankless water heaters, which Brackett said was a practical decision.
"You know, 10-12 people take a lot of showers, flush a lot of toilets, wash a lot of hands," he said.
Many changes were also made in order to increase the comfort of assigned personnel, a line of thinking that Brackett said extended to the living quarters.
"The bunk room, or bedroom, so to speak, of the station used to be dormitory-style," he explained. "So it was 'open-air'...you had 12 beds in a room, and in 1983 that was okay; it's not as okay now."
"So now they each have an individual bunk, their own little living space, so they can have some privacy and be more comfortable in the station," he continued.
Brackett said that although the project took nearly a year to complete, the property was continually occupied so as to provide continued service to the area.
"Basically, they worked on one side of the bay while guys occupied the other side for that period, and whenever they were done they kind of flip-flopped," he explained. "There came a point, though, where everything was getting demolished."
"So the county has a trailer with bathroom facilities, bedroom facilities in it that was moved out here in a semi-permanent nature," he continued. "We went and hooked it up to septic, so they would have a place to stay during the summer."
Brackett estimated that firefighters were probably out of the station, living in the mobile facility, for 6-8 months out of the year.
Station #7 serves the East Hall area; according to the county website, the following units are permanently stationed on location:
- 2007 Central States MS 1500 GPM Pumper with a 750 gallon tank
- 2008 FL-M2 Ambulance
- 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe – Brigade Commander’s Vehicle
- Hazardous Materials Response Unit
- Quick Response Unit