RAVENEL, SC (WCSC) - Two years ago, the St. Paul’s Fire Department had to close the doors to two brand new fire stations on Old Jacksonboro Road and Ethel Post Office Road.
The fire trucks are still inside, but no firefighters are working.
Recently volunteer firefighters have started using those stations when they are called to stop by and pick up a truck. But years of money problems put the stations a long way from running full time.
Right now there are 60 employees but Fire Chief Larry Garvin says he’d love to hire 20 to 30 more. He just doesn’t have the money.
St. Paul’s has lost seven people in a year and Chief Garvin says it’s because he can’t offer a competitive salary.
At the moment, funding from the county isn’t an option and the tax increase is as high as the county is willing to go.
In 2016, Charleston County denied a request to provide the fire district $1 million per year for five years.
However, Chief Garvin says a Millage rate increase allowed them to have $200,000 per year and they are staying within budget.
To reopen the two stations St. Paul’s needs 12 firefighters. That would allow them to have two men per truck. Right now, many of the stations are running one man trucks.
People who live and work in this area say they hope the situation doesn't get any worse.
Chief Garvin says he doesn’t know how long it will take but he vows to get the stations open.