Meridian's newest fire station officially opened Friday. Fire station number 9 is located in the northeastern part of the city. It will serve the most recently annexed area. The state-of-the-art facility can house both men and women. Currently, three firefighters work there per shift. However, city officials say that number will likely increase.
The long awaited grand opening for the fire station started with much fanfare as the Honor Guard for the Meridian Fire Department raised the flag there for the first official time.
Located on Briarwood Road, the facility cost $900,000 and city officials say it was finished on time and within the budget.
"So, we look forward to continuing to grow this area and growing the services. We've got now, fire and police protection and the next thing that we will be working on is water and sewer," says Mayor Cheri Barry.
Lauderdale County officials have also helped to make this day become a reality.
"We paved the road, Harvey Cut-Off Road, here. It was in bad shape and we paved the road here right by the fire station and we were glad to do it," says Lauderdale County Supervisor Hank Florey, who represents District One. "This just shows what the city and county can do when we cooperate."
For now, three firefighters per shift work at the site. However, when some training finishes within the next four weeks, Deputy Chief Sammy Foy says a fourth firefighter could be added to each shift.
'This station will be something that is easy to maintain and will not cost us a lot of money to run," says City of Meridian Chief Administrative Officer, Tim Miller. "It's a great deal for us and one of the nicest stations that we have ever been involved with."
Home to a 25-hundred gallon tanker truck, department officials say the new fire station will ultimately save residents in the area money.
"For most of the county fire departments the rating is 10. This one out here (for Northeast) is 8 and for the city we have a class 4, and what that does is decrease insurance costs annually, especially for businesses," says Deputy Chief Sammy Foy, with the Meridian Fire Department. "Businesses should see a dramatic decrease in their cost for properties and because of that, it will eventually pay for itself."
The Meridian Fire Department consists of three shifts of firefighters who work at 8 different stations. There are roughly 100 full-time firefighters on staff.