By Mike Ciampo
Colleton (SC) County Fire Rescue was established in 1994 when the County Council abolished 16 volunteer departments to establish this Fire Rescue agency. Today, the department comprises: career firefighters, who are all trained to Firefighter II certification, EMT, advanced EMT, or paramedic and a group of volunteer firefighters. The department is located in the “Low Country” area of South Carolina. The term Low Country was originally meant to include all of the state below the “Fall Line” or the Sandhills, which run the width of the state. The Low Country has a unique culture, geography, architecture, economy, and landscape. The area was originally developed with large plantations devoted to growing commodity crops of cotton, rice, and indigo. The area today offers scenic and historic landscapes and popular resorts featuring golf and tennis and seaside resorts that boost its tourism, while also having federally preserved or protected lands and wetlands.
Colleton Fire Rescue has an immense response area of around 1,132 square miles—it is the fifth largest county in South Carolina by land area, running from the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It has 35 fire stations with more than 129 pieces of fire apparatus ranging from 36 engines, 34 tankers, two 95-foot platforms, one ARFF apparatus, two heavy rescue units, two hazmat vehicles, numerous brush vehicles, numerous ambulances, and one rescue boat. The department currently has been rated as an ISO Class 4 department. The area is bisected by Route 95 and also has many other major highways and thoroughfares that run through the area, which are the scene of many accidents and incidents. Many of the department’s firefighters surmise that becuase this area is the midway point between the Northeast and Florida, many incidents occur because of driver fatigue (drivers trying to drive through and not stop and rest while making the trip north or south). With this in mind and the numbers of incidents rising, the department saw the need to purchase an additional heavy rescue unit in 2009.
Rescue 1 is a 2009 E-ONE/International a 28-foot non-walk-in heavy rescue unit. It responds to vehicle and machinery extrications, trench and high-angle rescues, and working fire assignments. It is painted in a white over red paint scheme with a white reflective stripe outlined with gold stripes on each side running down the apparatus cab and onto the rescue body. It has dual rear axles to carry the weight of the specialized rescue equipment and supplies carried on this rig. The apparatus also has large coffin-style compartments on the roof to store longer equipment and things that aren’t called upon often but are viable equipment for a rescue company apparatus. The access to these compartments is via a ladder on the rear of the rescue body. Mounted on each side of the upper portion of the rescue body are three scene lights; an elevating light tower is mounted on top of the rig which light up a scene with plenty of lighting. The unit is also equipped with a mobile breathing air compressor unit for filling self contained breathing off of its air cascade system.
The right rear compartment is the main storage compartment for the rescue company’s hydraulic rescue equipment. The department has Holmatro equipment in service and feels it’s very reliable and meets its needs. The equipment is stored on three vertical roll out shelves, with all tools sitting in carrying brackets on the sides of the shelves. Each bracket is labeled with big identifying stickers that are easy to read and ensure proper stowing of the tools after use. In addition, if a member unfamiliar with the apparatus or tools is sent to get a tool from the rig, he can easily spot and retrieve it. There is additional storage space on each side of the vertical slide out shelves.
Starting on the left side wall of the compartment, there is a portable step ladder mounted in a bracket and secured with a strap and clip. This ladder has been used at vehicle accidents and has proved to be of value, especially at a call for an auto on its side with people pinned. The ladder offers access to the A-, B- or, C-posts for cutting or even access to the opposite side to attach or hold in place stabilizer jacks against the under carriage of an automobile. On the floor just below the step ladder are two ram support extrication brackets for use with hydraulic rams. The rear side of the rear slide out tray has three diamond plate storage compartments mounted on it. The upper compartment has safety glasses inside it while the bottom has extrication chains, adaptors, and some cutting lubricant in them.
The front side of the rear pull-out shelf has a large and medium spreader and small ram attached to it. On the middle slide-out shelf toward the rear sits a large and a small cutter, a medium ram, and a small cutter that can be used on seat head restraints, car pedals, and rebar. On the opposite side of this shelf toward the front, sit three ram extension devices and one large ram. The front roll-out shelf’s rear side has two homemade stainless steel stabilizer jacks with ratchet safety straps mounted to it. They are very large and have been used on tractor trailer accidents on the busy Route 95. The front side of the front shelf is equipped with four sets of extrication hoses with CORE™ technology fittings. The area toward the right inside wall of the compartment has two high lift jacks secured by a strap and tie down clip attached to the wall. Just below this extrication storage compartment is a universal steel tube mount, which accepts the winch that attaches to the side of the apparatus.
With the addition of Rescue 1, the Colleton County (SC) Fire Rescue Department has improved its inventory of apparatus and rescue tools for use throughout the county.
MIKE CIAMPO is a 30-year veteran of the fire service and a lieutenant in the Fire Department of New York. Previously, he served with the District of Columbia Fire Department. He has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, NY. He is the lead instructor of the FDIC Truck Co. Essentials class. He wrote the ladder chapter and co-authored the Ventilation chapter for Fire Engineering’s Handbook for Firefighter I and II and is featured in “Training Minutes” truck company videos on www.fireengineering.com. He is also the author of Fire Engineering’s monthly column “On Fire.”