firefighter hat

Thirty firefighters could soon join Horry County Fire Rescue’s ranks for at least a three-year period.

The county’s public safety committee Tuesday approved sending a resolution up to the county council for approval that would authorize acceptance of federal grant funds for the hires.

Horry County has been awarded $3,618,156 in funds through a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.

The county would provide a $2,249,124 local cash match using money from the fire fund and an additional $660,177 for things like turn out gear, projected pay increases, uniforms and physicals for the new staff members.

If hospitality fee money were to become available, that would then reimburse the fire fund.

“Staffing for the department consists of more than 351 full time career staff and more than 300 volunteers,” a decision paper from HCFR Chief Joey Tanner said. “Additional career firefighters are needed in order to reduce response times, increase the number of trained personnel at an incident scene and provide sufficient staffing to maintain firefighter safety during operational deployment.”

One of the county’s goals is to also reduce the need for multiple fire trucks responding to a single call, Tanner’s decision paper said.

Tanner on Tuesday said the new personnel would provide a “huge boost” to the department.

The funding for the program supports a percentage of firefighters’ salaries and fringe benefits for three years. During the SAFER grant period, the county must maintain its staffing at the level that existed at the time of the award offer and commit to no layoff action during the grant’s period of performance.

Whether the new personnel continue to work for the agency after the grant expires would be at Horry County’s discretion. County officials said they hope to have enough revenues to pay for the additional the firefighters without a tax increase.

Horry County Council is expected to vote on the resolution at the Oct. 15 meeting.

Other business

Also during Tuesday’s meeting, county councilman Al Allen said he would like for the county to consider acquiring a type of bus that could transport multiple patients to the hospital in case of a mass casualty incident.

“We’re not just speaking about a plane crash,” he said. “There are so many large events that are happening now in the county. … In turn, we need to try to have a better transport system in order to provide that.”

Assistant Administrator for Public Safety Randy Webster said there might be grant funding available.

“I wouldn’t just say one bus, I’d say two,” Allen said. “ … We need this yesterday.”

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