Fire service in Columbia County is moving on up.
Four new fire stations have opened south of Interstate 20 in and around Grovetown and Harlem since July.
The Grovetown Depart-ment of Public Safety held a grand opening for its newest Friday.
“It’s awesome,” Director Gary Owens said of the station on Harlem-Grovetown Road in front of Ashland Commons. The nearly $1 million station replaces the downtown station on Robinson Avenue next to the Grovetown Senior Center.
The station was in desperate need of renovation. It had no private sleeping quarters, only window air conditioning units, a single motorized bay door and no back-up generator. The bays were too small and it was close to the railroad tracks that run through the center of town.
“It would cost just as much to redo that station as it would to build a new one,” Owens said. “Fire trucks are getting bigger and taller. Our new truck won’t fit in the fire station.”
The new station features amenities including private bunk rooms, air conditioning and modern technology.
“(The firefighters) have been looking forward to this forever,” Owens said. “They are excited.”
The station also puts firefighters closer to the city’s fastest-growing residential areas along Harlem-Grovetown Road.
The building includes a training office and community meeting room that can be used by the department or the public.
Harlem officials expect Harlem Department of Public Safety firefighters to move into two of the new fire stations this week, City Manager Jason Rizner said.
The new $2.5 million headquarters building opened last month. Public safety and communications staff went operational in the building Sept. 24, but problems with some of the building’s technology delayed the opening. That station includes several bays for emergency vehicles, living quarters including kitchen and bunk rooms, and equipment storage space.
Rizner said he expects final clean-up and landscaping to be complete this week on a new fire station on Campbell’s Way at the entrance to Campbell’s Crossing.
“It’s a simple building,” Rizner said of the station. It will be used by volunteers and will not house full-time firefighters.
That $500,000 building features two double-deep truck bays, a storage room and bathrooms. The site also has enough room for expansion, Rizner said.
Columbia County officials opened Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Station No. 15 on July 15.
That station, at 1273 County Line Road, is just north of Harlem and is the 15th fire station in the county.