Malta fire corps brace for growth

Editor's note: This is the fourth installment of Spotlight Newspapers' series on AMD coming to the town of Malta.

For the past 60 years, residents in the Town of Malta have known that two fire departments will be ready to respond when they pick up the phone in an emergency. The Malta Ridge and Round Lake fire departments currently protect the rural town with a combined 110 volunteers, a formula that works.

Malta is set to boom with the arrival of a $4.6 billion AMD Fab Technologies microchip manufacturing facility, though, and the possibility of the area growing while services remain stagnant is a scenario that concerns Fred Sievers, president of the Round Lake Fire Department.

The big issue for us is going to be the potential for an alarms increase, he said.

"The growth that comes with AMD is going to be our responsibility," said Malta Ridge Fire Chief Peter Shaw. "We're attempting to ramp up."

Fire officials said dealing with the factory itself will not likely be a major issue for either department, though they are planning for the arrival of the 900,000-square-foot facility. As with AMD's factories in Dresden, Germany, there will be an in-house team trained and ready around-the-clock to deal with all but the most catastrophic incidents.

"We have a very robust approach to what we call an emergency response team," said Steve Groseclose, AMD's director of environmental health and safety. He estimated that Fab 4X will probably have around 150 employees to provide continuous coverage for situations from sprained ankles to toxic gas leaks.

"Statistically, there are very few responses that we have to call out to local agencies," said Groseclose, though he acknowledged that in situations like large fires or severe medical cases, it would be necessary. "There is a potential there, so we train and cross train with the local responders."

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