COVINGTON - The county's seventh paid fire station is expected to open by the end of the year on Brown Bridge Road.
County commissioners approved a $778,848 build and design contract for Fire Station No. 7 with Sunbelt Builders at their Tuesday night meeting.
Newton County Fire Chief Mike Satterfield said the station is needed in the "very busy" service area of Brown Bridge, Salem and Crowell roads.
"This will probably be the busiest fire station in the county after it opens, as far as the number of calls. If it's not No. 1, it'll be very close," he said.
Fire Station No. 1 at the Covington Bypass and Flat Shoals Road and Fire Station No. 14 on Ga. 212 serve the western part of the county, along with a volunteer station on Salem Road. The volunteer station often is short-staffed during the work week, Satterfield said.
"It will fill a big gap that we have now," he said of the new station, which will be more than 6,000 square feet and will be occupied by three firefighters per shift.
The department already has hired and trained the needed personnel, Satterfield said, adding that new hires "will be spread throughout the county" and not all stationed at the new facility.
Fire Station No. 6 on Ga. 213 between Mansfield and Newborn opened in late 2007, and plans are in the works for a joint training facility with the Covington Fire Department.
Combined with the opening of the Brown Bridge station, Satterfield said it's possible the county could get an improved ISO rating.
The ISO, or Insurance Services Office, collects information on fire protection efforts in communities throughout the country and assigns a numerical grade called a Public Protection Classification, which insurance companies use to determine fire insurance premiums.
Ratings range from 1 to 10, with Class 1 representing the best public protection and Class 10 indicating no recognized protection.
Newton County is rated a 6, but Satterfield said once the new station and training facility come online, he may request a new survey in hopes of dropping one or two points.
Once the new station on Brown Bridge opens, the county will have seven paid and six volunteer stations.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.