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St John’s Fire request $1.5 million for new fireboat

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:30 AM EDT
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JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The St. Johns Fire District presides over a response area that includes rivers, beaches and wetlands, but firefighters say their only fire boat is in need of an upgrade.

Serving the majority of southern Charleston County, the St. John’s Fire District’s response area covers Kiawah Island, Wadmalaw Island, Johns Island, and Seabrook Island. These more rural sections of the county are crisscrossed with interweaving rivers, waterways and beaches that are incredibly popular with boaters and others.

Fire Chief Ryan Kunitzer says the department is called out for several fire rescues and other emergencies every week in the summer months, but they need a new fire boat.

Kunitzer says the boat, Marine 701, is more than 10 years old, and they need about $1.5 million to replace it.

“This was just something that we identified that we needed to improve on, especially for the southern part of the county,” Kunitzer said. “So we felt this was the right time to go ahead and move forward with this purchase.”

The new boat would be faster with better navigation technology, nighttime operations and according to Kunitzer, it would allow them to better serve the entire south side of Charleston County.

Kunitzer says the new boat comes at no additional cost to the county and will not raise taxes.

Purchasing the $1.5 million boat would require an amendment to the agency’s budget, but Charleston County leaders are holding a public hearing Tuesday to discuss.

The public input session starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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