Kershaw County Fire Service (KCSF) is moving forward with implementing goals and recommendations set by an ad hoc committee formed in 2018. Kershaw County Council established the ad hoc committee to conduct an in-depth study into the fire service to identify issues and come up with solutions to make the fire service more effective.
The ad hoc committee first submitted its findings in an interim report to council in January 2018. Some of those findings included:
• a need for additional fire service personnel to be added at the Blaney Fire Station and in the eastern portion of the county; and
• a need to implement an integrated reporting system across all stations to accurately gauge the number and types of calls and where to direct resources.
Since that time, KCSF has been working to implement solutions to those needs, Fire Marshal Keith Ray and Deputy Fire Marshal Scott Wiles reported to Kershaw County Council during a recent meeting.
The county is now divided county into four major fire districts, with the various area volunteer fire departments consolidated into their respective geographic districts, they said.
KCSF firefighter ranks have been reorganized as well. The fire marshal and deputy fire marshal are chief and deputy chief of the fire service. Individual stations are no longer commanded by a chief; each station is commanded by a fire service captain, who is under the supervision of the chief and deputy chief of the fire service.
Also, training standards have been finalized and streamlined according to ISO and federal Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration guidelines.
KCSF is collaborating with the Lugoff Fire District and Camden Fire Department to bring in and host more fire academy classes here in the county rather than having to send firefighters to the State Fire Academy in Columbia.
Operating guidelines have been standardized throughout KCSF and equipment is in an ongoing process of being standardized.
Another area of concern is how to recruit and retain volunteers, Wiles said. Currently, KCSF has eight part-time paid positions; all other slots are volunteers are working full time paying jobs with other departments and working in their spare time for the county. Volunteers do receive a stipend based on a point system which is based on the number of calls to which they respond.
With that in mind, Wiles said, KCSF is updating its point system to increase stipend amounts for those volunteers who have more experience and respond to more calls.
KCSF has also bought and installed new computers and a new incident reporting software for all 12 of its main stations. With the one standard reporting software, the fire service will be able to include such information as types of incidents and number of calls each department responds and services. In addition, email is completely replacing fax technology, Wiles said.
“With this software, we will be able to tell exactly where, how many, and what kind of calls each station is dealing with,” Wiles said.
The next step, according to County Administrator Vic Carpenter, will be to generate issues and questions to be placed before the public and possibly decided via a referendum.