Fire and ambulance coverage in Sandy Springs’ eastern panhandle is getting a boost in a new deal providing automatic response from a city of Roswell fire station.

A city map of the part of Sandy Springs’ eastern panhandle where Roswell’s fire station will automatically respond.

The city of Sandy Springs has no Fire Rescue station in the area, but Roswell’s Station 5 is just across the river on Holcomb Bridge Road. For several years, the two cities operated a “mutual aid” agreement, meaning they would respond to each other’s emergencies in the area upon request.

Under the new “automatic aid” deal, Roswell’s Fire Rescue will automatically respond to calls from Sandy Springs’ eastern panhandle. And at least two Sandy Springs firefighters and a truck will be based at that Roswell station. In return, Sandy Springs Fire Rescue will respond to three sections of Roswell.

At the Feb. 15 Sandy Springs City Council meeting where the deal was approved, City Councilman John Paulson said that Fire Rescue response has been a “hot-button issue” in the area, which he represents.

“The panhandle area…is just a long ways away from the nearest fire station,” Paulson said in an interview. Trucks can take 11 to 12 minutes to get from Sandy Springs Station 1 at Spalding and Roberts Drives to that area, he said.

The construction of the Mansions Sandy Springs seniors residences on River Exchange Drive in 2014 raised concerns higher, Paulson said. Various stopgap measures were created, including the mutual aid deal, and having an ambulance informally stationed at the Orchard Park shopping center on Dunwoody Club Drive.

The automatic aid deal should speed response times and may lower Sandy Springs homeowners’ fire insurance rates, Sandy Springs Fire Rescue Chief Keith Sanders said at the Feb. 16 council meeting.

“I think it’s a good agreement. I’m glad it worked out,” Paulson said.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.