Five rural fire departments to merge in Berkeley Co.

Five rural fire departments are consolidating in Berkeley County.
Five rural fire departments are consolidating in Berkeley County.(AP)
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 11:42 AM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Five rural fire departments are consolidating in Berkeley County.

Berkeley County officials say the move to merge operations is to save costs and improve services to citizens.

The five departments that are merging are the Lake Moultrie Fire Department, Bonneau Rural Fire Department, Forty-One Rural Fire Department and, starting July 1, the Shulerville-Honey Hill Fire Department. These departments will merge with the St. Stephen Volunteer Fire Department, according to officials.

The county says the St. Stephen Volunteer Fire Department will serve as the parent department and have administrative control of all five districts. The combined departments will contain paid, part-time firefighters and maintain their individual identities, including keeping their department names on buildings and fire trucks.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the fire service in the north end of Berkeley County to take a major step forward,” St. Stephen Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Lee Wadford said. “I’m both proud and impressed by the unselfish decisions of the Fire Chiefs and board members that have agreed to this merger. Our job is to serve the communities we represent in Berkeley County and this merger is going to help all of us in that mission.”

Officials say the departments volunteered to the merger in order to improve the overall fire protection system in the county and will form a unified board of directors with representatives from each department.

Fire officials say the merger allows them to save money by eliminating unnecessary costs of administration and maintenance duplicated in each district.

“I’m proud of the initiative these fire departments took to come together and better serve Berkeley County,” Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb said. “It’s important for people to come to the table with open minds to find solutions that are reasonable and sustainable for the greater good. This is a great example of teamwork that will benefit citizens for years to come.”

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