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What was described by many as a long time coming became official with Greenwood County and City of Greenwood officials signing the automatic fire aid agreement that should save money and improve fire services.
The agreement, approved by Greenwood City Council last month, would have county firefighters respond to any fire call within the city and city firefighters will respond to county calls in the four districts adjacent to city limits — Northwest, Highway 34, Coronaca and Promised Land.
“If you ask how it’s going to save money, well it keeps Chief Strange from having to go ask for $2.5 million-3 million to build a station to cover districts. It’s going to increase performance from our end,” County Fire Chief Steve Holmes said.
Greenwood County Council Chairperson Chuck Moates called the day an “excellent opportunity for us to further serve the public.”
“This results in expanded fire protection for all our citizens and it also highlights the emphasis placed on public service by both of these organizations. This agreement increases our fire defenses and fire control by combining the resources needed to assure our community adequate protection,” he said.
With the city continuing to grow and an established relationship with the county, City Fire Chief Terry Strange said the agreement made sense and will help with responding to calls quicker and being closer to areas that might be more difficult to reach.
“It makes it difficult for us to get to places we need to in a timely fashion and having these stations that are manned on the city outskirts, it just makes sense. The bottom line is, the person who needs us — it makes more sense for them because we’re able to get a first responder there quicker, hopefully be able to save lives and save more of their property,” he said.
From the volunteer aspect, Holmes said they will be getting back time that may have been lost because a volunteer, for example, was at home and had to go to a station to pick up a firetruck before getting to a house fire.
“EMS has always had that golden six-minute period to get to a person. We literally have about the same thing with a structure — about six minutes to get there and make a difference,” he said. “This is saving money and it’s increasing our abilities to put people on the scene a lot quicker.”
“This not only allows our fire department to maintain its lowest possible ISO rating, but as I’ve been briefed by Chief Strange and Assistant Chief Tanner Hall, it’ll actually strengthen that ISO rating for our City residents and I think that’s one of the biggest concerns we have. Our fire department has spent so much time, energy, and resources to achieve that lowest possible ISO rating and we want to make sure that we keep that,” Mayor Brandon Smith said.
The tentative kickoff of the agreement is Nov. 1, but if either department needs help they will send it.
“We’re not going to not go,” Strange said.
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