The city government operates a station in downtown and on Marietta Highway in south Canton. City Manager Scott Wood said the new station will likely be located in north Canton.
Wood made a presentation on the proposal for the Canton City Council and plans to present a list of potential sites in the new year.
A new station will not only will improve the department's response to fires and other emergencies, but will also keep its Insurance Services Office rating stable.
The rate is used to determine the cost of homeowners' insurance, and the lower the rating number the better the fire protection and the lower the insurance cost.
Fire Chief Dean Floyd said the city's last ISO evaluation was in 1999. After 10 years, departments are randomly inspected, and Canton is overdue for a check.
The current rating is a 4, but "it could potentially go up with the growth in the city" making insurance more expensive, he said.
The south Canton station, he noted, has been built since the last evaluation.
The city already owns a site that was donated to be used as a fire station. Wood said the land, which is in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood on Reinhardt College Parkway/Highway 140, is far from ideal.
There is a "plethora of rock" at the site and problems with accessibility to Highway 140, though Wood noted the site has not been eliminated as a location.
But "that site has merit," Wood added, as the general location is good, and the city already owns it.
Floyd said he estimates it would take $300,000 just to prepare the land for construction.
Wood said, ideally, the price tag would be $1 million or less for any site improvements or land purchase as well as construction of the station. He's like to see the station up and running by midyear in 2012.
But once the station is built, there will be more costs for the city to cover.
"Staff costs will emerge as the biggest challenge. That is operating monies," Wood said.
He estimates the cost of running the third station would be about $500,000 a year, noting the city already has most of the equipment needed on hand.
The Canton Fire Department responded to 2,682 calls in 2009. Through the end of October, the most recent numbers available, the department has responded to 2,450 calls so far this year.
The department has maintained a staff of 24 employees, including 18 firefighters, for the past two years.
Its budget for the current fiscal year is $1.75 million, up from $1.72 million in the previous year's budget.
Councilman Bill Bryan said the council needs to pursue the project.
"We have been overdue on that for a long time," he said.