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County leaders officially open east Newton fire station
Fire Station 4
Newton County elected leaders join with county Fire Services department administrators, county business and Sunbelt Builders officials to officially open Fire Station 4 on County Road 213. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — The county’s newest fire station officially opened Wednesday, June 29, with a new fire engine being added to the celebration.

Newton County Fire Services officials and firefighters, county business leaders, the station’s builder and others joined with the Newton County Board of Commissioners to officially open Fire Station 4 on County Road 213.

The county hosted a ceremonial opening Wednesday, June 29, that included firefighters participating in a ceremonial fire engine “push-in” to the new station at 1200 County Road 213 near the historic Starrsville community. 

Ronnie Cowan, the area’s former county commissioner, said he heard the calls for the station’s construction over the years.

He said there was a “big need in this area” after a former volunteer station closed in recent years.

“We’re thankful this is done,” Cowan said.

He also thanked the Fire Services department administrators who were “very patient as we struggled to get this done,” he said.

“We came together as a Board of Commissioners, which is actually unusual …,” Cowan said.

After elected officials and business leaders formally opened the station during the Wednesday ceremony, firefighters helped roll in the station’s new Sutphen Class A pumper truck. Driver Meredith Biles made the call to have dispatchers place the vehi

cle into service.

The push-in of the fuel-powered vehicle did not require actual use of physical labor. The ceremony dates to the days of horse-drawn steamer fire engines when firefighters literally had to push new steamer engines into the station.  

Station 4 will house at least nine firefighters — three per shift — and two engines, officials said. It will serve parts of east, northeast and central Newton County.

The $2.6 million facility operates on a five-acre site and includes 8,450 square feet with three engine bays, a decontamination area and living space for firefighters who spend days on duty, officials said. 

Cowan, who formerly worked as a police officer for 11 years, said he knew the firefighters in attendance were doing a potentially hazardous job.

“It’s a very dangerous job. Very rewarding at times, but still very, very dangerous,” he said. “I appreciate y’all putting your life on the line like you do.” 

Newton County Fire Services has gradually replaced former volunteer stations as it professionalized the county’s fire protection in recent decades. It now operates 10 stations.

Cowan said in 2020 that county leaders saw the need for the station after the Insurance Services Office (ISO) revised its fire service rating for the area following the closing of a former East Newton Volunteer Fire Department station on Dixie Road.

The county purchased the land from the family of well-known Starrsville resident Peggy Jean Knox in 2020.

Sunbelt Builders built the station, which is similar in size and features to Newton County Fire Station 8 on Gum Creek Road in Oxford. 

Fire Chief Mike Conner said its opening will give those living within five road miles the chance to to receive a lower ISO rating and reduce their homeowners insurance rates.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards joked that he “screamed like a 5-year-old girl” during meetings about the need for the station.

County Chairman Marcello Banes said a “ton of people”attended Board meetings “screaming for this” to be built.

But Ryan Wyatt, pastor of Church 213 near the station, said the Board “acted quickly” after he and area residents asked commissioners to take action to provide better fire service to the area.

“It just seemed like when the people said we had a need, Newton County’s leadership recognized it and acted quickly,” Wyatt said. 

He said area firefighters helped his church recover after its building burned in February 2015.

“From that moment, we recognized that God had a purpose for Church 213 on Highway 213 in east Newton County.”

Wyatt said his church’s members have prayed over the fire station site for area residents’ safety since ground was broken in 2021.