Fire chief: Staff at some St. Paul's Fire stations reduced to one firefighter

Published: Dec. 7, 2015 at 1:59 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2015 at 5:54 PM EST
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Source: WCSC
Source: WCSC

HOLLYWOOD, SC (WCSC) - Some stations within the St. Paul's Fire District may now only be manned by one firefighter because of money issues, their fire chief says.

According to the Chief Doc Matthews, firefighters are being shifted around to cover for a lack of manpower.

"We are undermanned, understaffed, underpaid," Matthews said.

Matthews says he has 17 firefighters on duty per day across nine stations and not enough money to hire the 12 additional firefighters they need.

"Just to keep the number of stations we have up and running, trying to meet these staffing requirements is going to take about 12 people," Matthews said.

Matthews is hoping to get an additional $1.7 million. He says without the money, some of the fire stations may have to close.

The chief is also worried what may happen if firefighters get calls for multiple incidents at the same time.

"My biggest fear is getting what we consider a four alarm back to back or having a wreck with entrapment and a fire or a wreck with entrapment and a heart attack on the other side of the district," Matthews said.

According to Matthews, if the money is not found somewhere soon, some stations may have to close down.

"It's going to be hairy in the next few years if we don't do something quickly," Matthews said.

In a statement officials with Charleston County Council said they were forming a committee to discuss financial problems in the St. Paul's Fire District.

The committee wants to identify specific funding issues and possible solutions.

"Public safety is an essential service and a top priority at Charleston County," the news release says. "Our authority on this issue is limited by law, but we will work to help our citizens as much as it is possible."

The committee will include Charleston County Council Vice Chairman Vic Rawl, Councilmembers Anna Johnson and Dickie Schweers and staff from Charleston County Government.

When necessary, the news release says, the committee will ask for input from the citizens and firefighters.

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