FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — For the first time in history, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department are teaming up to build a joint location.
The proposed Fire Station 11 and West Sheriff’s Office Precinct will house portions of both departments.
Fire Chief Danny Bowman said that about a decade ago, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners bought three acres of land off Pittman Road between Post and Bethelview Roads for a station.
On Aug. 22, the board approved the concept to proceed with a plan for shared space and approve the architectural designs.
The building will be funded by fire impact fees, and Bowman said after it’s completed the sheriff’s office can pay back for their portion of the building. County staff and the county attorney will look at how funding will be split.
“There are hundreds of homes out that way that their fire insurance rating says there is no fire department, in other words they’re over five miles from a station,” Bowman said. “The day we have the grand opening of this concept, all of their fire insurance ratings plummet from a 10 to a 3.”
Bowman said when Sheriff Ron Freeman took office, they agreed to meet about every 60 days and listen to each other’s senior staff.
A concept came out of the meetings for a west sheriff’s office precinct to be built along with Fire Station 11, Bowman said.
“I love the idea of our public safety officers being and working together,” Freeman said. “They have a one-stop shop for our citizens. It makes sense.”
Freeman said his office and the county toyed with the idea of a new headquarters, but decided the funds and location would better suit the deputies.
“Building a new office for the sheriff’s office is not my desire or my need,” Freeman said. “Would it make us a little more effective of what we do at headquarters? Yes, it would. But the fact is the building I’m in now, the old county courthouse, I can live in it for the foreseeable future.”
He said his job is to keep the county safe, not build buildings. The shared fire station, he said, would have a greater impact by complementing the North and South Precincts.
“That’s where our deputies are and work out of,” Freeman said. “That’s where our citizens get copies of reports and talk to officers. We are there and open. It puts more officers closer to our community and allows us to serve them better.”
A new headquarters would improve administrative activities, but a new precinct combined with a fire station would put the firefighters and deputies next door and closer to the citizens, Freeman said.
“I care that we are providing services,” Freeman said. “I don’t care about fancy buildings or what building I’m working out of. This is a more effective use of our money. Our senior staff loves our firefighters and deputies working hand in hand. It creates a good atmosphere to serve our citizens.”