CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Public Safety Facility
marks a milestone for the city of Conway.
The building has been up and running since November, but Tuesday marks its grand opening, allowing police and fire to serve Conway from under one roof. This step has been years in the making, Former Fire Chief Ricky Baker says.
"On a daily basis we're all the time working together," Baker said. “On the street, on a wreck scene, we're always working together.”
Having police on one floor, fire on the other, along with space for emergency management, has brought a new meaning to efficiency.
"There's been a lot of wasted work time over the years, so having everyone in the same facility has really improved the work force and provided a better service to the city,” said Fire Chief Le Hendrick.
Working in one building allows public safety to work as a unit, which in turn speeds up response time.
"It actually cut our response down at least 30-45 seconds, which has helped a lot, and in the future you'll see that response time come down even more,” Hendrick said.
One feature for police is more storage for evidence. Another is a training center, a place to prepare, protect and provide, without leaving site, which was not always the case. Police Chief Reggie Gosnell said not having to travel for training saves time, wear and tear on officers and on vehicles.
He said the centralized location, will also cut down on crime.
"It gets us closest to our highest-call sector which is in the 378 corridor, so our presence here just on the other side of 501,” Gosnell said. “I think it's gonna pay dividends for the residents that live in that 378, 501 corridor."
The center has extra space for growth for both the police and fire departments. The fire department will start by adding its first new fire engine in over a decade. That truck is set to arrive in June.
This really speaks volumes for what City Administrator Bill Graham called one of the fastest-growing cities in the state. He said between 2000 and 2010 the city saw a 45 percent growth to 17,000 residents in the city. The latest numbers, from 2013, show the population grew by more than 2,000.
In about five years, to compliment the growth, the city has seen a new Public Works Complex, an indoor recreation center, and now this $5 million public safety building.
"Everything in that design was to get the most bang for our buck both for now and the future, and I think we're well positioned to accomplish that,” said Gosnell.