A $5 million fire station planned for Sandy Springs is designed to look like a house.

The first renderings of Fire Station 5 were presented at a June 3 meeting, held at the Spalding Lake clubhouse. The fire station is proposed for the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Spalding Drive and would serve the city’s eastern panhandle. The city in February spent $450,000 to buy the property at 7800 Mount Vernon Road. 

Since the fire station is planned for a residential area, it was designed to look like a house with a detached garage, city officials said. Hussey Gay Bell, a civil engineering and architectural firm, led the design.

“The architects and I worked countless hours to come up with a residential look,” Sandy Springs Fire Chief Keith Sanders told Reporter Newspapers on June 4. “It is the most complex area to give good EMS and fire service to I’ve seen in my 43-year career.”

It’s a difficult setting since there are no commercial sites in the panhandle, Sanders said. “That entire community is residential.”

Sanders said the fire station is needed to improve emergency response times and provide “equitable distribution” of services in Sandy Springs. Currently, the average response time in the panhandle ranges from 10 to 13 minutes, he said. “We strive for eight minutes or less, 90% of the time,” Sanders said.  

Some residents expressed concerns at the June 3 meeting. 

“I am not in favor of this location selection,” said Lisa Huffman. “There has to be another location that is not sitting in a residential area. We have a small child, and the noise is a definite concern.”

Sandy Springs has looked at potential locations for the fire station for about a decade, said city spokesman Dan Coffer. Among the previous deals, in 2018, the city had considered another panhandle property at 7775 Jett Ferry Road. But that fell through because the property’s septic system was inadequate for the station.

“I don’t have other options,” Sanders said at the June 3 meeting, offering special conditions for the new station. That would include requiring fire personnel to minimize noise in residential areas, meaning they wouldn’t hit sirens unless delayed by traffic. Sandy Springs fire trucks also have preemption software that changes traffic lights to green for emergency vehicles approaching a signal, he said.

In order to move the project forward, Sandy Springs officials would need to approve a conditional use permit for the fire station.

Another public meeting is set for June 23 at 6 p.m. The project would go before the planning commission Aug. 18, with city council set to vote Sept. 21. If approved, construction could start by the end of the year, Sanders said. The budget for the fire station is $5 million. 

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.