FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — After a string of multiple break-ins at Forsyth County fire stations while firefighters were on a call, the county is beefing up security.
The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Dec. 12 to approve $161,000 for security upgrades for 13 fire stations.
The upgrades include standalone cameras at the stations, exterior lighting at 11 stations, access card systems at 11 stations and additional fencing at Stations 14 and 15. Not all stations were included for each upgrade because some of the newer facilities already had security measures.
In March, the county Fire Department and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office agreed security needed to be improved at the stations.
The board initially approved $300,000 for security measures for the 13 fire stations, but final costs came in significantly lower. The money comes from the fire fund reserves in a line item to be determined by the county director of finance.
In March, Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said the board received an email from Forsyth Sheriff Ron Freeman asking them to step up the security. She said the break-ins were putting not only the people at risk but their vehicles.
“They have enough to worry about. They shouldn’t have to worry about their vehicles being broken into, too,” Mills said. “He asked us to do our part to help the Sheriff’s Office patrol the areas and make them safer. I think that’s the least we can do.”
This comes after several Forsyth County firefighters and EMTs had their personal firearms stolen out of their vehicles in January at Forsyth County Fire Station 10 on Old Atlanta Road.
Five vehicles were reportedly burglarized and three guns were stolen. Windows were broken and the inside of the vehicles were in disarray.
The board also approved an agreement with Chubb Insurance to provide a firefighter cancer insurance policy as mandated by Georgia House Bill 146. That agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019. The estimated annual cost is $36,000 which is based upon qualified enrollment covering all full-time, part-time and volunteer fire suppression personnel.
There are 15 fire stations in the county all with 24-hour coverage with three or six firefighters per 24-hour shift.