HANAHAN, SC (WCSC) - The city of Hanahan's fire department is buying new gear and equipment firefighters say they desperately need to protect themselves and the people they serve.
The equipment upgrades come less than two months after a Live 5 News investigation into complaints by Hanahan firefighters that they didn't feel safe.
In April, a Hanahan firefighter who asked not to be identified said he and his colleagues were forced to fight fires with old gear and equipment and that the city refused to spend money to buy new equipment. Live 5 News learned on Monday that as a result of that investigation, city officials are listening and responding.
"I went to the H.R. director and said set up a meeting with everybody that's been here, every fire department employee we have that's been here three years or longer, just so we can meet with them and pick their brains," Hanahan City Administrator Johnny Cribb said.
After hearing their concerns, Cribb says he went to city council and received the green light to spend money on new equipment firefighters said may be a matter of life or death, and that the city is buying two thermal imaging cameras and will now have one on all three trucks.
If you go up to a fire, you can point this at a building, you can see where the hot spot is, which helps keep me safe and lets me know where the fire is," Cribb says.
The fire department also is getting something it doesn't have: a set of rescue jacks that are used to lift something when it falls on someone. Cribb says firefighters could have used them back in March when a house collapsed on a man who was inside. He was rescued.
In response to complaint about outdated firefighting gear, Cribb says gear will now be inspected four times a year. It is currently inspected only once per year.
"We don't just look at the date of it, we look at the condition of it," Cribb said.
Firefighters also are getting new radios that will allow them to communicate with other agencies during a fire or other incident. Cribb says the new equipment will be purchased in the new budget year that begins July 1, and that a tax increase will not be needed to buy it.
The news of changes comes as longtime Hanahan Fire Chief Jerry Barham announced his retirement at the end of the month. Cribb says Barham's retirement has nothing to do with the firefighters complaints.