Fire Station 8 closed due to disrepair

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Plans have been made in recent years for several new fire stations in Henry County which are now in development.

It looks like another one will have to be added to the list.

Fire Station 8 on Flippen Road has been closed because of a recent engineering report which showed the building to be in disrepair. The Henry County Board of Commissioners made an emergency decision at its Oct. 18 meeting to authorize up to $175,000 for the construction of temporary facilities on the site to continue fire services in the area.

Commissioner Blake Prince read aloud this portion of the engineering report: “In our opinion, due to the defects listed above, the building should be considered structurally unsound and not to be occupied.”

He then added his own assessment. “It’s a total loss,” he said. ‘I don’t see any way to fix this building.”

The closing of the station was done quickly at the behest of Henry County Fire Department chief Brenda Willis and authorized by County Manager Lyndon Bonner, who said it was done “out of an abundance of caution.”

Willis told the board that Engine 8 is operating out of Station 9 on Rock Quarry Road, while Rescue 8 is at Station 3 on Hwy. 42 near Eagle’s Landing Parkway. “They are responding from there,” she said.

All of Station 8’s personnel would have been relocated to Station 9 but there are not enough beds for them there, Willis added.

Bonner said he had already gotten an estimated cost of rehabbing the current building, which would be about $227,000. But he urged the board to consider the long-range solutions instead of just a fix. The prototype for the fire stations now being built in the county typically cost around $2.4 million, he said.

The more immediate solution to keep fire services at an appropriate level means installing two temporary structures on the Flippen Road property - one for personnel and one for apparatus storage. That will cost about $120,000 according to Bonner’s estimate.

“That station serves a large area - part of my district, part of District 4 and part of District 2,” said Commissioner Bruce Holmes. “I would be in favor of spending what is necessary to get that station up and running.”

The temporary structures can be ready in 6-8 weeks, Willis said.

Holmes made a motion to approve emergency expenditures of $175,000 and authorized Bonner to move forward in obtaining temporary structures and pouring the slabs needed to get them in place. That motion was approved 5-0.

As for the long term, a station at the current Flippen Road location may not be the best option because of how traffic has changed in the 30-plus years since it was first built.

“Any permanent site consideration has to include traffic patterns,” said Bonner. “Right now that road backs up and we don’t have good access coming out. But we want to stay in a one that gives residents in that area the response times they want.”