Bill Maddox spent almost 23 years as Chief of the Augusta Fire Department before consolidation and is sad to see Fire Station 3 now up for sale.
“I got a lot of fond memories there,” he said. “I hate to see it go, but I know it’s part of progress.”
Last week, the Augusta Commission authorized selling 20 properties, including a library, a train depot, more than 70 acres of vacant land and two fire stations.
The fire stations are the old Station 10 on Cemetery Drive, which has been rebuilt on Alexander Drive and is vacant, and Station 3 on Reynolds Street.
Before consolidation in 1996, the Reynolds Street station was the city’s fire administration building and repair shop. Since moving the administration offices to headquarters on Deans Bridge Road, the office space and the shop at Station 3 are empty.
“It’s a lot of vacant space we are paying to heat and cool,” said Augusta-Richmond County Fire Chief Chris James. “It adds up to a lot of waste.”
All government vehicles are now serviced at a shop on Broad Street, he said.
The decision to sell the station also has to do with coverage in the area. Station 3’s 1.5 mile radius – which each station is responsible for – is covered by stations 1, 2 and 4. Plus, the station is up against the Savannah River, wasting part of its coverage area.
By selling No. 3, James hopes to build a new station in south Augusta where are areas are not fully covered.
Although the commission will decide what to do with the money from selling the two fire stations, James said a conversation he had with City Administrator Fred Russell leads him to believe his department will get the money.
“It is my hope that the funds received come to the fire department,” he said.
James also said he will keep the aerial truck now housed in Station 3 downtown, where most of Augusta’s taller buildings are.
“If we sold the station today, I would move the aerial truck to station 1,” James said. Station 1 is located at Broad and East Boundary streets. He said Engine Co. 3, the other truck, would operate out of Station 2 on Walton Way.
After adding a station to south Augusta, James hopes to have enough money from the sales and some SPLOST funds to build another station near the new courthouse at James Brown Boulevard and Walton Way to house the two trucks from Station 3.
Although James said he realizes Station 3 is part of Augusta’s history, he said the change is nothing new.
“This is just a continuation of the consolidation started in the nineties.”