The Johns Creek Fire Department began service on Oct. 7, 2008, and has operated since then out of three fire stations inherited from Fulton County.
Since the inception of our city, Johns Creek’s population has grown by 20,000 residents to 83,873 in 2016. Fire Department responses have grown accordingly from 4,715 in 2009 to 8,342 in 2016.
As the city’s population has grown, so have the needs of our community. As we look at the numbers and the responsibility to our citizens and businesses, there is little doubt that an additional fire station is necessary to close the gaps in our current coverage and shorten response times.
JCFD’s targeted response time from dispatch to the arrival of the first unit is 6 minutes in 90 percent of all responses. Attainment of these target response times is particularly important in medical calls where minutes, even seconds, matter.
Under Fire Chief Jeff Hogan’s experienced leadership, JCFD has served our city well and has been recognized as one of the leading fire departments in Georgia.
However, additional investment in the Fire Department is urgently needed to meet these targeted response times throughout the city.
The Fire Department still can meet the response time goal throughout most of the city, with two significant exceptions:
(1) The areas surrounding the intersection of Abbotts Bridge and Jones Bridge Roads.
(2) The neighborhoods off McGinnis Ferry Road north of Sargent Road. Response times in these areas can exceed 10 minutes. Responses to the northwest corner of the city, frequently referred to as the “Sharks Fin” on a map, can reach 11 minutes.
In an effort to temporarily solve this problem, Johns Creek entered into an “automatic aid” agreement with the City of Alpharetta in October 2014. Under automatic aid, an Alpharetta fire unit automatically is dispatched along with a Johns Creek fire unit to the areas covered by this agreement.
However, the locations of the nearest Alpharetta fire station still leave significant gaps in fire and emergency medical service levels.
Alpharetta Fire Department has responded to Johns Creek 225 times since the start of the Automatic Aid agreement through June 30. Response times by both Alpharetta Fire Department and JCPD continue to range upward to 10 or 11 minutes. While Johns Creek is grateful for Alpharetta’s cooperation under this agreement, it is not a long-term solution.
New fire stations are expensive. The acquisition of land is first required and various parcels are under consideration.
The construction of the fire station and acquisition of the new fire engine will be roughly $3.3 million. The incremental annual cost of additional fire personnel to support Station 64 is approximately $1.6 million per year.
Chief Hogan’s leadership team has spent the past two years studying alternative solutions. The analysis of the extensive data collected over the first eight years of operations has conclusively led to the need for a fourth fire station (to be designated Station 64) in an area near the Kimball Bridge Road and Jones Bridge Road intersection or slightly south on Jones Bridge Road.
One new fire engine will be bought for this fire station and one rescue vehicle will be transferred from Station 63 across from Newtown Park.
The proposed location for Station 64 has been carefully considered and will allow JCFD to provide residents and businesses throughout the city with response times that meet the six-minute target.
The City Council will consider the budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (beginning Oct. 1) during its meetings in August and September.
The purchase of the land and construction of the fire station must be a priority in its budget deliberations as the safety and well-being of our residents are at stake.
When you call 911 in a fire or medical emergency, the time until the first unit arrives can seem like an eternity.
We cannot risk 10- and 11-minute response times for residents in the northwestern area of our city if viable alternatives are available.
The safety of all our citizens is our first priority and everyone expects and deserves the same level of service, regardless of where one’s home or business is.
This investment reinforces our commitment to the safety of all our citizens now and in the future.
You are welcomed and encouraged to send comments on this important public safety issue to email@example.com.