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Fire Protection Needs
web posted January 27, 2012
EDGEFIELD – Merriwether Fire Chief Joey
Smith spoke on behalf of the fire services prospective saying that it
is important to have mandatory training for all volunteer firefighters,
including training together so that when different departments are
involved in a single structure fire, "we're all working off the same
Chief Smith said that how, or even when - or if, those departments
train is up to the individual fire chiefs. Under his leadership, the
Merriwether Fire Department requires mandatory training of all
firefighters every Tuesday and some weekends. Those who do not train do
not remain on the department. He also supported all departments having
first responders to help augment EMS due to only two ambulance crews
available in the county.
Smith also said that it was important that each fire district expand
their number of fire stations which would help lower the ISO ratings
for home insurance. Several areas of the county have a 9 rating which
can double if not triple the cost of fire insurance. Merriwether has
built two fire stations by going to the community to seek donations and
not using taxpayer funds to lower the entire fire district to a 5
plan to build two more stations in the next few years.
In addition, Smith felt that infrastructure, mainly water service, to
support fire services
should also be a main focus for the county.
County Administrator Roger LeDuc asked if he was correct that there was
a portion of Mt. Vintage that has a 5 ISO rating (which provides one of
the lowest fire insurance costs) and another part that is rated at 9
(the highest). Chief Smith said that it was true since the new section
is included in the Edgefield Fire District, not Merriwether.
Another issue that was discussed, and the county council in very
interested in looking at, is creating a county fire marshal that would
oversee all fire districts to ensure all departments are trained
properly and is proactive in helping to reduce the ISO ratings for all
county homeowners. Part of that would be to see additional fire
substations built (which would lower ratings) in the seven fire
Of course, having water service and fire hydrants is also a factor that
has to be taken into account and is being looked at by the
Administrator LeDuc stated that the County Council will be reviewing
the fire contract at their February meeting and that the suggestions
will be taken up by them at that time. The contract also has to be
approved by the town councils of Edgefield, Johnston, and Trenton
before taking effect.
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