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Woodstock Needs Fire Station in Ridgewalk Area

City Council members and staff during its annual retreat discussed land, costs and staffing for a new fire station.

A third fire station is needed for the city of Woodstock, and leaders hope the excess land could come in the form of a donation.

City officials mulled the need during its retreat earlier this month. Fire Chief Dave Soumas told the council getting land donated to the city could save between $500,000 and $750,000 in costs and speed up the process of building the station.

The city could use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes to build the new station, which most likely will be housed on the northern side of town. 

Soumas said he's eyeing "several" locations for the new fire station. 

The Ridgewalk area was identified by Insurance Service Office, or ISO, personnel as the prime location for the city's next fire station when they evaluated the department last year.

The Ridgewalk area is will soon see dramatic commercial growth as the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta is expected to open in July.

Also, several restaurants and stores have signed on to open up on various outparcels near the outlet mall. 

The department announced late last year that it retained its ISO rating of 3 after the review by the organization. 

The ISO system is used to rate how well fire departments serve their area. The scale runs from one to 10, with one being the best fire service. The ratings are used to calculate homeowners’ insurance costs.

Soumas also said ISO told the city should consider moving Station 10, on Wigley Road at Highway 92, closer into the city limits.

The fire chief on Monday stated ISO recommend moving the station closer to Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services' Little River fire station on Barnes Road in Woodstock, but noted "that is not economical."

"So if we could move Station 10 close to Trickum (Road), that would work," he added, noting the move isn't "high on the priority list."

As for staffing a new station, Soumas told the council he initially wants to take one truck from Station 14 and staff the new station for the first year.

He then asked the Woodstock City Council to commit to hire up to three people per fiscal year for up to three years.

That would allow him to continue placing three fire fighters on each truck. 

Soumas said if the department makes "major" improvements, they could ask ISO to come back and re-evaluate the city for an upgrade.

He also told the council that purchasing new equipment, new vehicles and building new stations is good, but it won't help the city's rating if no new staff is accompanied.

He said Cherokee County's fire training facility under construction in Holly Springs should help the city at least maintain its ISO rating.

Soumas also asked the council to mull replacing the city's ladder truck, which was purchased in 1997. The replacement is estimated to cost around $1.2 million.

The fire chief said the city could either trade in the ladder truck or use it as a reserve engine. Soumas noted trading in or surplusing the truck would be the best use as it's unknown how effective refurbishing the truck would be for the city. 

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