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Hinesville Fire Dept. opens new administration building
fire department
Hinesville City Manager Kenneth Howard talks about the new HFD administration building Friday morning. Photo by Pat Donahue

The Hinesville Fire Department’s new main station in downtown Hinesville now has a new administration building alongside.

The city cut the ribbon on the new administration building, sited on the location of the former HFD station, Friday, and the opening of the facility is further proof of the city’s leadership and the residents’ commitment to the fire department, Chief Robert Kitchings said.

“It’s a very special day for us,” he said.

What’s important for the fire department is that there is elbow room — room for the chiefs, the fire marshals and room to conduct training, for the department, other departments and the community, Kitchings pointed out.

As Hinesville has grown, its fire department has had to grow, too, Kitchings noted. The city limits have expanded, so the department’s coverage area has grown and it includes Flemington.

More vehicles coming through the city also mean more traffic and the possibility of more traffic accidents.

“It opens up so many doors,” the chief said. “We’re in a place that was built for us instead of a place that was built and we were thrown into. We have to match our growth. We have to be able to maintain our staffing and we’ve got to be spread out enough that we can get to every corner of our response area in an appropriate amount of time.”

The new building, 5,500 square feet, allows the HFD to improve on the services it can offer those it protects, from a classroom where it can conduct CPR training and a junior fire marshal academy to space for the fire marshals to review building plans.

Previously, the fire marshals occupied a small building that also served as a weight room. The space was so small that putting all the fire marshals in at one time actually violated the fire code.

But now, there is room for them all, plus a conference table to go over building plans. There’s a smaller room with two large screens where fire marshals can review plans digitally without distraction or interruption.

“To say this is a long time coming is not an understatement,” Mayor Karl Riles said. “It’s an honor to give the people who protect us the tools that they need to do the job. Public safety is infrastructure. There is not enough we can do to ensure they have the tools to do their job properly. In the City of Hinesville, we will continue to do that every single day with every single action.”

Along with the new station 1 that opened last year, the entire complex was about $8 million, funded largely through special purpose local option sales tax proceeds.

“We were on time and within budget,” City Manager Kenneth Howard said.

Chief Kitchings pointed out he and his assistant chief had a plan when they took command for what the department needed in five years and what it needed in 10 years.

“And in the first eight months, we were almost done with our first five years,” he said.

City leaders have taken note — and pride — in the department’s recent accomplishments.

“We thank you for all the strides you’ve made to make the Hinesville Fire Department not just the best fire department in the region but in the state,” Mayor Riles said.

Another plus is the building’s façade fitting in and boosting downtown Hinesville’s appearance, Howard added.

“We all agreed that if we wanted downtown to thrive we would have to have some skin in the game,” he said. “The two buildings you see are a culmination of our efforts.”

“It is gorgeous,” Kitchings added.

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