WINNSBORO — The Fairfield County Fire Service was presented with an award for “Outstanding Achievement” during county council’s meeting on May 12.
Interim County Administrator Milton Pope presented the award to Fire Marshal Tony Hill.
“This is due to a lot of the criteria they have put in place for safety around areas where there are accidents,” Pope noted.
At the S.C. Workers Compensation and Trust meeting in January, the Associations of Counties awarded the Fairfield County Fire Service with the award.
Hill credited the award to his deputy director Greg Gerber.
“He worked on this project for a long time,” Hill noted.
Hill explained that the work for the award stemmed from a request by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the fire service to protect EMS during calls from motorists.
Hill said the fire service will go to sites and use the fire truck as a safety barricade for either EMS or the sheriff’s office.
“That’s what it is all about, is safety,” Hill stated.
Fairfield County Fire Service
Fairfield County has 11 fire departments with 14 stations and three sub-stations. There are 165 active members in the fire department, according to Hill, and 20 years ago there were 250 volunteers.
The decline in volunteers is not a local or state problem, but a national problem, according to Hill.
“I think that has to do with just economics,” he advised. “State Fire Fighters Association have been working on this problem for a few years now on recruitment and retention.”
Hill noted that the county’s fire service has been working with the Fairfield County School District to help improve recruitment. Through a process that has taken nearly five years, Hill hopes to have a fire fighter program through the school in the near future.
“I talked with Mr. Green, the Superintendent of Education, and there is a very good possibility that we will have a fire fighter program in our county schools in the year 2015,” he stated.
Hill said it would be a two-year program and students would graduate as a nationally certified fire fighter 1. The fire department would save $800 to $1,000 by not sending recruits to training.