The two newest fire apparatus, purchased with funds from the second capital project sales tax, to be put in service in Florence County were wet-down in a traditional fire service ceremony Tuesday evening at Olanta Fire Department Station One.
The two trucks join Olanta’s fleet that combined with a new daytime staff, funded for under the county’s new unified fire district, means Chief Jimmy Coker and his crews can respond to fires better than ever before.
“With a limited number of people we can take one truck and do what three trucks would have normally done, because I have 3,000 gallons of water versus an engine with 1,000,” Coker said. “I don’t have to worry about how long it’s going to take for water to get there because it’s going to get there as soon as we get there.”
A 2013 study of county fire service found that three of the department’s 10 apparatus are past their useful life and two more reach that limit this year. The new trucks will be stationed at two of the department’s three rural stations.
The trucks cost $522,954 and are part of $18.4 million in fire service upgrades that are funded from $125 million in bond revenues as approved by the second capital project sales tax referendum in 2013. The second penny went into place on May 1; just days after County Council approved the $520,000 allocation for the trucks. Olanta Fire paid the remaining $2,954.
The county spent more than $100,000 on a lawsuit in 2013 lodged by the state over the legality of holding the referendum vote in a non-general election year. Just week’s before the referendum vote, the state Supreme Court ruled 5-0 in favor of the county to hold the vote.
Councilman Jason Springs, who represents much of southern Florence County including the Olanta area, said in addition to the trucks, the area will see $1.75 million in water infrastructure projects which will increase the effectiveness of the fire service.
“To get just one truck is a big deal, if it’s a new one, but the fact that we could go out and buy two brand, spanking new fire engines speaks a lot to the leadership over the past few years,” Springs said. “The projects are going to be vital to the well being of our citizens and will help facilitate any future growth.”
County fire/rescue coordinator Sam Brockington, who is a liaison between the county and the fire departments, joined other county officials at the event said the investment in fires service will result in lower insurance rates.
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