Judson Fire Department and Gregg County officials broke ground Thursday at the corner of Henderson Lane and Tryon Road where construction of a new fire station already has started.
This past year, Gregg County Emergency Services District No. 3 purchased 4 acres of land for about $300,000 to build its first permanent fire station. The current station at 436 Skinner Lane used to be leased but was eventually purchased, said B.H. Jameson, Pct. 1 justice of the peace and ESD No. 3 president.
“This’ll be our second station, but it’ll actually be the primary station for the whole department, and it has room for growth and so forth,” Jameson said. “And the game plan (is) probably 10 or 15 years down the road, we’ll have a third station to cover this area.”
Jameson said there’s no firm timeline on construction, but he estimates it will take six to seven months.
In 2019, voters in unincorporated areas north and east of Longview approved a new tax to support fire protection in their neighborhoods, creating Gregg County’s third emergency services district.
Revenues raised from property taxes are dedicated to providing emergency services including paid, full-time firefighters and enhanced equipment and facilities in areas that include Judson, Omega, Tryon Road and much of FM 1844 in the county.
Judson Fire Department was founded as a volunteer department in 2004. Fire Chief Chris Jackson, who has been with the department for 12 years, said it responded to its first call for service in 2006. As the years went on, the department saw the benefit of joining an emergency services district.
“Everything outside of the city (of Longview) is our primary response district, but if the city is busy, then sometimes we go with the city and mutual aid them as well,” he said.
The current station has been maxed out in terms of its capacity, so the addition of the new facility will increase response times and is expected to help lower homeowner insurance rates for residents in the area, Jackson said.
Insurance Services Office (ISO) fire ratings give homeowners a score that helps determine insurance rates based on a variety of factors, including proximity to a fire department and how well equipped the department is. To significantly lower rates, homes should be within 5 miles of a fire station.