Howard County announced plans Monday to build two fire stations, the first new fire facilities in the county since 1994, officials said.
And as part of an initiative to speed up response time on emergency calls throughout Howard, the county will hire eight new 911 operators.
The announcements came during a news conference held at Fire Station 9 in Long Reach village in Columbia, where County Executive Ken Ulman was joined by Police Chief William J. McMahon, Fire Chief William Goddard III and other county officials.
The new fire stations will be in Glenwood and Mayfield, with the latter temporarily at the Mayfield highway maintenance shop until the county completes a land purchase at Route 175 and U.S. 1.
The new stations will be scaled-down versions of typical fire stations, officials said. The facilities will cost between $3 million and $4 million each, compared with between $10 million and $15 million for stations that commonly include a community center and are outfitted with more equipment and more firefighters.
"It won't be fancy, but it will be central to level of response," said Goddard, who has been on the job for 30 days.
The cost of the new stations has been added to a proposed capital budget that Ulman is scheduled to present Wednesday.
The hiring of additional 911 operators is part of a program that the Police Department began in February to decrease response times on emergency calls. The department streamlined the list of questions that operators ask callers to determine what type of response is needed. McMahon said the average response time has decreased by one minute as a result.