Sirens wailed and red lights flashed as four shiny new fire trucks traveled down Ronald Reagan Drive to the Evans Government Complex on May 23 to a waiting and eager crowd.
Four new fire trucks arrived in Columbia County with sirens blaring May 23. The trucks were among the six that were bought with money from the special purpose local option sales tax fund.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
As the trucks lined up in the parking lot, Pam Tucker, Columbia County's Emergency Services Division director, couldn't stop smiling.
"This is wonderful," she said excitedly.
For Tucker and the other people who have been heavily involved in improving the county's fire service during the past two years, the trucks were a tangible product of a lot of hard work.
"There were several of us out there, the people that have just been really, really, really central to this process and have been involved for over two years. ...You couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces because there has been so much work," Tucker said.
The trucks were four of six identical $200,000 pumper fire trucks ordered in November from FireLine Inc., a fire, rescue and safety distributor. The first two were delivered in November; outfitted with lights, radios and other emergency and medical equipment; and put into service Jan. 1 at two of the county's new rural stations on Old Louisville Road and on Clary Cut Road.
The newest four will be equally outfitted and are being put into service at Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue's new Sugar Creek Road station, and North Columbia Fire and Rescue's Station 11 on Cobbham Road in Phinizy, Station 21 on Washington Road in Appling and Station 31 on Appling-Harlem Highway in Appling.
County Commission Chairman Ron Cross got to climb around the large cab of the new trucks. He said their arrival has been long-awaited.
"We can't have a fire. We don't want to get them dirty," Cross said jokingly, admiring the trucks.
Tucker said $2.2 million of sales tax funds paid for the trucks and other firefighting apparatus, including an aerial truck with a 95-foot ladder, emergency and first-responder medical equipment, lights, generators and radios. The money also paid for two tanker trucks that will replace two worn ones for the North Columbia department.
"It's rare for the fire department to be able to do this," Tucker said. "We were real fortunate to be able to have the SPLOST opportunity to do it because we saved a lot of money that can be used for other things in the fire service."
Tucker said she is looking forward to spending $4.2 million of sales tax money to build four permanent fire stations.
Firefighters have operated out of temporary mobile buildings since Jan. 1.
Tucker said that once fire chiefs from Martinez-Columbia and North Columbia review building plans a final time, the projects can go out to bid. The buildings are expected to be complete and functional by March.
"Everything is moving," Tucker said. "There's so much good stuff. It's hard to believe."
Photo by Jim Blaylock
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