GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCSC) - The Goose Creek Rural Fire Department received a four-year grant to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will administer the grant, which totals $552,258.29, over four years beginning Dec. 16, according to a post on the Berkeley County Government Facebook page.
Goose Creek Rural Fire Department Chief Robert Maibach says this grant comes at a critical time for the department because of the decrease in volunteerism in recent years.
“In nearly 40 years in the fire service, I have never seen a volunteer deficit so great,” Maibach said. "I hope people will find it in their hearts this holiday season, and all year round, to help their local fire department.”
Maibach says there are costs associated with adding volunteers which includes training, physicals, equipment and gear. He says equipment for each volunteer firefighter can cost about $3,000.
They are working on a plan with a marketing firm and will be getting a message board for outside this station. Maibach says work loads are greater with less volunteers and in some cases response times can be delayed.
Right now the department has a combination of 49 part-time workers and volunteers. Volunteer firefighters don’t have a salary, but the department just started offering incentive stipends based on the number of shifts volunteers work.
Maibach encourages anyone in the community with a desire to help to reach out to Goose Creek Rural Fire Department about volunteer opportunities. The department welcomes all skill sets, including vehicle maintenance, information technology, administrative work, building maintenance, and more.
For more information, contact Maibach at email@example.com or call 843-797-3112.
“I just challenge people, there’s a lot going on in this world today. Be somebody who steps out and helps,” Maibach said.
Goose Creek Rural Fire Department is composed of both paid and volunteer firefighters and covers unincorporated areas of Goose Creek. The department was established in 1959.
The district the department serves has grown tremendously over the past several years, and the fire department now serves an estimated 18,500 residents, approximately 5,000 homes, 11 apartment or condominium complexes, five shopping centers and strip malls, a high school, an intermediate school, an elementary school, and several industrial facilities. The industries the department serves include, Century Aluminum, J.W. Aluminum, Cooper River Partners, DAK, Dominion Energy, Linton Manufacturing and others.
“Our volunteer fire departments offer an invaluable service for Berkeley County," Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb said. "This is another example where a volunteer fire department has gone above and beyond to ensure that lives and property are protected in Berkeley County.”
Fire services in unincorporated Berkeley County are delivered through a network of 25 fire departments. These departments are organized as non-profit corporations, which execute contracts with the County to provide services to their respective districts.