“We’re in the lifesaving business,” Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Fire Chief Donald Hollis said Wednesday after Fort Stewart officials cut the ribbon at the installation’s newest fire station. “It’s all about providing services to the soldiers and their families.”
Fort Stewart leaders and firefighters turned out to celebrate the official opening of the 19,000-square-foot 15th Street Fire Station and adjacent training facility that cost an estimated $6 million to build.
The station, on Fort Stewart’s western most cantonment area, will help provide emergency services to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s new complex, which is scheduled to be completed by July when 4th Brigade troops redeploy from Iraq.
“At this time, we don’t have a station over there,” Hollis said. The chief said there now are five stations on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, and he hopes to soon acquire a temporary station for the 4th Brigade complex and one on Rio Road at Hunter. Fort Stewart employs 102 fire department personnel, Hollis said.
The chief said installation firefighters are dedicated individuals.
“I have a great bunch of firefighters,” he said. “They’re real professionals.”
Some Fort Stewart firefighters have served the post population for more than 20 years and have been operating out of stations with less living space than the 15th Street Fire Station provides them, Hollis said. Post firefighters also have been driving and maintaining aging fire trucks, he said. Along with the new station, the Fort Stewart Fire Department will receive six new fire vehicles, the chief said.
“It does a lot for morale,” he said. “I have great support. This facility shows it.”
The new station will house Division of Emergency Services administrative staff and operate like any busy fire station, Assistant Chief of Training Joseph Hightower said. He said 17 firefighters will be assigned there. The station has offices, a conference room, a computer room and a training classroom in its administrative wing; the operational wing includes living quarters, a day room, kitchen, laundry facilities and an equipment-cleaning area, he said. The new training facility is behind the station.
Before cutting the ribbon, Fort Stewart Garrison Commander Col. Kevin Milton and Command Sgt. Maj. James Ervin thanked Fort Stewart firefighters for assisting Long County in battling recent wildfires and for helping area emergency responders when a tanker overturned on I-95 in Bryan County in April.
Hollis explained that his firefighters assist neighboring cities and counties and often are called to assist with wrecks on Highway 144. They also handle any fuel or gas leaks on post, he said.
The Fort Stewart Fire Department and its nine mutual aid partners, including Liberty, Long and Bryan counties, meet once each quarter, Hollis said.