Old Fort Fire to end service, merges with Dorchester County Fire-Rescue

Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

In the less than a month service by the Old Fort Fire Department will officially end.

This comes after Old Fort Fire Department signed an agreement with the county to merge with Dorchester County Fire-Rescue who will take over the service responsibilities.

It's bittersweet for some because Old Fort Fire has served the community for 46 years. However, the transition will improve the fire service for Dorchester County Residents.

It's the beginning of a new chapter.

Steven Burke is the Chairman of the Old Fort Board of Directors.

"I didn't sleep last night, I didn't eat today, I feel like I got a pit in my stomach," Burke said.

It was a turn of a page that was hard for him to make but he believes it's the best for the firefighters and the community.

"We know the citizens were taken care of and I just want my firefighters to be taken care of," Burke said.

He feels that will happen with this merge.

Old Fort will officially merge into Dorchester County Fire-Rescue on July 22.

With the change, county officials say there will be better response times through automatic aid agreements with other departments and eventually lower insurance rates.

Edward Genthert is the Fire Chief for Old Fort Fire, he's been with the department since 1981. It was established 10 years before that.

"It's bittersweet for everyone. It's going to be a plus," Genthert said. "It's been a pleasure being a fire chief all these years."

Tres Atkinson is the Dorchester County Fire and Rescue Chief. He's been in the fire service for 31 years.

"One of the best opportunities I've had and a great group of people to work with and even better as we bring some more across," Atkinson said.

The county has already taken over service responsibilities for Old Fort in the Jedburg and Knightsville areas and soon they will expand in the Summerville and Ladson communities.

Burke knows the benefits.

"All of the fire departments agree that you have to have three men per truck, we have three men per truck and we can do it but later down the road we'd be out of money and we would have to start laying people off," Burke said.  "So the county with their people and hiring our people they can keep that mission going."

There will be 27 open positions with the county that Old Fort firefighters will be able to apply for.

Dorchester County also plans to operate out of three of Old Fort's fire stations located on Ladson, Dorchester and Miles Roads.

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