North Bibb County Gets New Fire Station in Georgia

North Bibb County will get a new fire station in 2007 under the fire department's future building plan.

Bibb commissioners voiced support for that plan Wednesday as Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Jimmy Hartley presented his fiscal year 2006 budget proposal. Hartley has slated $2 million in the coming year to acquire land in the area of New Forsyth Road and Riverside Drive and to build the new station.

It would likely open in fiscal year 2007, which starts July 1, 2006, Hartley said. It would then cost about $70,000 a year to operate, he said.

Building and staffing costs would be paid out of the county's fire fund, which has an estimated $6.3 million set aside in reserves. Unincorporated Bibb residents pay extra taxes - based on a millage rate tack-on of 2.57 mills - for fire service, and the county keeps this money in a separate account. The reserves have been built up during the years.

Unincorporated Bibb County has a split ISO rating, the rating used to figure property insurance rates, of 3/9, Hartley said. That means if a home is within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant it has an ISO of 3. If not, it has an ISO of 9, Hartley said. The best possible score is 1, the worst is 10, and insurance costs drop as the ISO rating improves.

The new station would at least "stabilize" the county's ISO rating, Hartley said.

"We may even progress a notch or two," he said.

The ISO ratings are typically reviewed every 10 years or so and Bibb County is due for a review "literally, anytime," Hartley said. The new station also "wouldn't hurt" ISO ratings in nearby Jones and Monroe counties, which the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department has mutual aid agreements with, he said.

The new station would serve a high-growth area of Bibb County, and commissioners essentially signed off on Hartley's plan Wednesday, though spending plans won't be finalized until they adopt a new budget before fiscal year 2006 begins July 1.

"We need to build a fire house," Bibb County Commission Chairman Charles Bishop said recently.

It would have four bays. Hartley said it wouldn't have a ladder truck - at least not to start with. That area of the county is served by ladder trucks at the Zebulon Road station and the city's station further south on Riverside Drive.

Though the general location has been identified, no land has been purchased and commissioners expressed some hope Wednesday that someone would donate a site.

Distributed by the Associated Press