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Clearing the Smoke and Mirrors of Merriwether Fire Training Center
A Column by the Editor
web posted July 1, 2011
COLUMN – I have watched as a small contingent of
"concerned citizens" is growing furious over the Merriwether Volunteer
Department hoping to build a training facility at the Station 3 on
Murrah Road. Some have continued to send comments to the Wandering
Minds making false accusations and claims even though County
Administrator Roger LeDuc penned an
article last week in hopes of clearing up the
First off, the anonymous group (no one has put their name to anything)
claims to have a petition but never produces such. If you are going to
make claims against the fire department, own up the them, stand up and
be counted and produce the petition. If this planned training facility
is as dastardly as you claim, why hide? You are obviously saving the
Merriwether Community and its residents from those firefighters and
first responders trying hone their life-saving skills.
Secondly, this small group continues to speak of the dangers of oil,
gas, and other fluids leaking from the junked vehicles that are used
during extraction training. It has already been clearly explained that
the vehicles contain no fluids and even the gas tanks have been
removed. There is no fluid of any sort in the vehicles to leak out.
DHEC makes sure of that.
Thirdly is the claim of smoke and health related issues from the use of
burning vehicles for training. No vehicles or structures can be burned
at the location.
Fourth, the training facility will increase traffic making it dangerous
to local residents driving in the area. Though this is probably the
most fallacious point, it too needs to be addressed. MFD Station 3 is
located on Murrah Road within a mile of the Merriwether Middle and
Merriwether Elementary Schools with well over 1,000 students with half
as many parents dropping their children off at school or picking them
up afterwards twice a day, five days a week, for ten months of the
However, 40 or so firefighters driving on Murrah Road, three or four
times a year, on the weekend, is going to create a traffic
Now, if this group really wants to go after a planned project that will
create a traffic hazard, they should concern themselves with the City of North
Augusta's multi-million dollar park they plan to locate about a
mile or so up the road. Where is your disdain in that case? North
Augusta trying to take over Merriwether is obviously not one of their
concerns. Hindering our local firefighters is.
Fifth is how this training facility is an urgent threat to the peaceful
community. The Merriwether Fire Department is currently in the planning
stages with the proposed training center. Note two words in that
sentence, "proposed" and "planning". This is a dream that will be many
years in the making, if (and it is a big if) it even comes to fruition.
The truth of the matter is the Merriwether Fire Department does not
have the money to build the facility.
They cannot increase taxes in order to raise the necessary funds and
the county council is not going to give them a penny towards the
Sixth is the noise pollution that firefighters training will cause to
the peaceful country setting in the area. Firefighters using the Jaws
of Life to cut apart vehicles on the weekend (again, 3 or 4 times a
year), so that when a real person is trapped or near dying in a bad
crash they know what to do, is too much noise. The "concerned citizens"
make more noise when they cut their grass with their lawnmowers every
weekend, not to mention weedeaters and blowers.
Lastly is the bullying tactic trying to be used with threats of voting
out county council members if they allow this travesty to take place
disrupting the tranquility of the Merriwether Community.
The County Council cannot stop the facility from being built, period.
Zoning allows it and if the state (ie: DHEC) gives their blessings, and
has so far, the county cannot do anything to prevent the facility from
being built. The county council cannot pass a new ordinance to disallow
the facility unless they want to get sued and probably have to pay a
settlement that could possibly fund its construction.
I wonder, would these same people be so worried about traffic, noise,
smoke, and other so-called problems when their house is on fire? "Well,
that's what they (firefighters) are there for," they might say. Indeed
it is, however; they have to train in order to be able to do so.
I firmly believe these same "concerned citizens" have no objection to
anything the MFD does or its training. They just don't want it in their
back yard. Someone else's is fine, just not theirs.
I get that, but at least be honest about your objections. Do not make
up problems and distribute misinformation. Have an open and honest
debate with those involved and try to reach a compromise that is
suitable to all. Trying to pit elected officials, appointed officials,
and public servants against each other is not productive and, in the
end, will accomplish nothing more than pitting a few neighbors against
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