To the applause of Henry County firefighters and E-911 dispatchers on-hand Monday night, commissioners approved to move forward towards constructing a new public safety campus. Architectural plans for the project will require about one year to complete.
The new campus will be located on county-owned property. It is presently in use as Cotton Fields Golf Course. County staff conveyed at a May town hall meeting the plan to close the course this October. Further updates about the course’s closure have not been shared.
New Public Safety Campus
Presently, Henry County Fire Rescue does not have a training center. They had to close their former center due to its age. As a result, the county has the added expense of transporting fire recruits to training centers in adjacent counties. The lack of a training center can also negatively impact the county’s ISO rating. The ISO rating, used to help determine homeowner insurance rates, will next be reviewed in 2025.
Secondly, a new E-911 building is another major component of the project. Right now, E-911 operates out of a former RV sales center. Staff encounter flooding issues within the building during heavy rain storms. In addition, the current structure could not withstand a tornado or high winds. The new building will meet FEMA requirements for a ”hardened” structure. This better protects against high winds.
Phase I Design
The new campus includes several buildings. Phase I includes the following:
- Fire Training Center,
- Emergency Management / E-911 Building, storage warehouse and two pavilions,
- Public Safety Driving Pad,
- Fire Department Burn Tower Pad, and
- a classroom building next to the burn tower.
To design the new buildings, the county hired Place Services, Inc. of Canton, GA. The design work will cost about $2.6 million. E-911 funds will cover $1.84 million of costs. The difference will come from the county’s capital projects plan. Design work will take about one year. After which time, the plans will undergo plan review. The county would then be able to bid construction.
The design plans will include a foundation pad for the future burn building. The design and construction of the physical burn building will follow at a later date. Henry County Fire Rescue Chief Jonathan Burnette reassured the public on Monday night the new building will not produce the thick black smoke typically associated with a house fire. This is because of the materials used within a burn building. Burn buildings are a necessary part of training to simulate fire conditions. The county previously had a burn building behind fire station 1.
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Phases 2 & 3
At the May town hall meeting, county staff indicated there would be a future phase 2 & 3. The later phases would add other buildings on the property. They include a rebuilt fire station 1. There is also land set aside for future jail expansion.
Finally, the new county aquatic center will be on the rear portion of the property. The county accepted construction proposals up thru August 10. Next steps will include approving a construction contract before work can begin.
Featured image shows the concept site plan for the public safety campus. Henry County photo. Article updated on August 23 with the concept site plan.