After months of discussions in his department, Augusta-Richmond County Fire Chief Chris James plans to move some of his aerial fire trucks, and add a fifth, to better cover more densely populated parts of the city.
Currently, the four aerial trucks in service have large overlapping coverage areas. Each of the department’s largest ladder trucks is responsible for a 2½-mile radius around its station, according to the Insurance Service Office. There is no coverage on Washington Road, where some of the city’s larger hotels are, or on River Watch Parkway, which holds some larger businesses. This gap in coverage prompted the discussion to move the trucks, James said.
“It makes a big difference how quickly a ladder truck can get to a scene,” he said. “It shouldn’t be the last truck; it should be the first.”
Currently, Station 8’s aerial truck on Highland Avenue and Station 9’s truck on Walton Way Extension have very little territory that is not covered by another aerial truck, according to a map of coverage James has.
Since an accident in June put Station 9 out of service, its aerial truck has been running out of Station 10 on Alexander Drive. Repairs at Station 9 started last week, but the aerial truck will stay at No. 10 to cover Washington Road and River Watch Parkway.
Station 8’s truck will move to Station 15 on Flowing Wells Road when Station 9 is finished. Station 6 on Richmond Hill Road will keep its truck, and the fourth aerial truck, currently at Station 3 on Reynolds Street, will move to Station 1 on East Boundary when Station 3 is sold. The station was put up for sale in May after it was determined that its territory is covered by surrounding stations.
“We wanted to have the ladder trucks where we had the tallest buildings and the most people,” James said. “By moving the trucks out, Augusta is better covered.”
James said he hopes to purchase a fifth aerial truck that he will put at Station 19, which will cover Hephzibah and Cross Creek high schools and industry buildings at Federal Paperboard and the airport.
“We knew we needed a truck in south Augusta so we have a quick response time to the schools and multistory industry buildings out there,” he said. “Everyone will still have a truck responding. It’s just more evenly placed.”