Southern Howard County will be getting quicker 911 service next year when construction of a joint fire-police station is completed.
Safety officials -- who held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for their first venture together -- say the new station will mean quicker response to calls from the Scaggsville, Fulton, Hammond Village and North Laurel areas.
The area's fast-growing population required a fire and police headquarters, officials said. About 10,000 people live in southern Howard, and more than 25,000 are expected to move there by the year 2010, according to an Office of Planning and Zoning survey.
The $3 million station will be built on Route 216 -- just west of U.S. 29 where Scaggsville Elementary School stands -- and is expected to be completed in September 1993. The school will be demolished in August.
Although police and fire will share the same heating and cooling systems, the stations will be divided by a wall and have separate work and meeting spaces.
Police say their 18,000 square-foot area will house half of the 140-member patrol division as well as a community meeting space and detention and booking facilities.
"It's quite needed," said Maj. Mark Paterni. "The current station is overcrowded. There's a significant parking problem with the government buildings."
The new station will also send patrol officers on the road faster after they make an arrest. Travel time from southern Howard to Ellicott City headquarters is about 20 minutes, Major Paterni said. The new booking facilities will allow police to hold prisoners there until they can be moved as a group.
Police say they are planning an addition to the station that would include space for a canine and an investigations unit.
Fire officials say five firefighters and emergency medical personnel as well as a fire engine and an ambulance will initially staff the county's 12th fire station.
Deputy Chief Edgar Shilling said the 10,000 square-foot station will help the department serve the community better.
"Our goal to keep response time around five to six minutes in this area of the county was lacking," he said. "The response time to some areas was up around 10 minutes."
Currently, fire stations in Savage, Clarksville and Rivers Park service the southern area, making it harder to control fires because of the travel time. In past years, the amount of damage in some house fires in affluent neighborhoods has exceeded the cost the $3 million station, Chief Shilling said.
Stations for the Mayfield and Dorsey Hall areas are scheduled to be built within five years, and another one in Glenwood is planned in 10 years, the chief said.