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County officials break ground on new north Newton fire station
Facility will include equipment to decontaminate firefighters from cancer-causing chemicals
0621 CovNews FD Groundbreaking3
Officials hand down shovels for use in a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony for construction of new Fire Station 8 in north Newton County June 16. - photo by Tom Spigolon

County officials broke ground Tuesday, June 16, on a new fire station to serve the northern end of Newton County by early next year.

The 11,000-square-foot structure on Gum Creek Road near Gum Creek Landing Road will cost $2.4 million and be funded by a combination of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money and a county fire tax, said Fire Chief Mike Conner.

The new Station 8 also could lower insurance rates for area residents after it begins operation in spring 2021 because it will reduce the distance to a fire station, Conner said. 

Newton County Fire Service now serves the area from Station 9 on Mt. Zion Road in Oxford, which is about five miles from the new station site, and Station 1 in Covington, officials said.

Conner said homes in the area are now generally given an ISO rating of 10. The new station could lower their insurance costs by dropping the rating to 4, officials said.

Features of the new fire station will include a system to decontaminate firefighters' clothing from cancer-causing chemicals in smoke they were exposed to at fire scenes, Conner said.

"These were the things we wanted in this project," he said. "I'm looking forward to getting this project going,."

County Commissioner Nancy Schulz, who represents the area, said she recalled when a home near her residence went up in flames on a windy day in recent years. Firefighters were forced to focus on saving nearby residents and their homes, rather than the home on fire, because they lacked enough equipment, she said.

She said "every day I drive by that vacant lot" it was a "powerful reminder of how firefighters risk their lives for us."

Chairman Marcello Banes introduced speakers, including County Manager Lloyd Kerr.

Kerr said the county chose the site at 2345 Gum Creek Road in northern Newton County because it was found to be in a central location for most of the homes it would serve.