St. Paul’s Fire struggling with dozens of vacancies, forcing closure of 2 stations
HOLLYWOOD, S.C. (WCSC) - St. Paul’s Fire Department serves the second-largest land area in the state, only behind Lexington County, but they have dozens of vacancies and have closed two of their fire stations because of staffing shortages.
A fire station off Wilson Road in the Hollywood area has been closed for around six years. Once vacancies in the department are filled, Chief Larry Garvin said the Wilson Road station would be the first to be reopened.
Garvin said their coverage area starts from Rantowles Creek on Highway 17 to the east, Jacksonboro to the west, Countyline Road at 165 to the north and Edisto Beach to the south.
Right now, the department has around 70 firefighters on payroll, but the chief said that is 50 to 60 people short of what it would take to be fully staffed.
Garvin said the starting pay at the department is around $42,000.
The chief said the closed stations on Wilson Road in Hollywood and off Highway 174 in Adams Run are affecting response times, but not too much because they can get to most calls in around three minutes.
“They’re not affecting response time as much as people think they are,” Garvin said. “Like I said, at any given time, these trucks can be somewhere, this truck right here, these trucks right here, will respond there, and they’re there within three minutes, two to three minutes, but they can be on highway 174 working another call, so it takes longer to get there.”
He also said the department is trying to adjust to meet the demands of a growing district and have the staff available to do so – more than the number the previous administration thought they needed to get the job done.
“They always thought they could make it run with 15, 16 people per shift, and you can’t do that,” Garvin said. “This district is growing. Everywhere you look, you have houses blowing up, picking up, and they’re bigger houses. The bigger houses makes for more equipment, makes for bigger trucks, makes for more expenses.”
Despite the vacancies, the chief said he takes pride in the men and women who work here, saying he will put them up against any department in the area.
If you would like to apply to become a firefighter at St. Paul’s Fire Department, click here to be taken to their online application.
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