MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue has just started training 9 firefighters it is funding through a million-dollar, federal grant.
The department responded to about 14,400 incidents last year, which is approximately 600 more calls than it responded to the year before. Lieutenant Jonathan Evans says Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue is expecting to receive even more calls in 2017. “For us, every year gets busier and busier. The year before it was just under 13,000 that we did. Our down months aren’t always down months anymore,” he says.
On Friday, the department started training 17 recruits, and the $1 million SAFER grant will fund 9 of those officers’ salaries, equipment and training for the next two years. Lt. Jonathan Evans says the new addition that the grant allows will have a direct impact on how stations respond to calls. “It helps our response times. We don’t have to send as many trucks to certain things so we have more people on a certain rig.” Specifically, the department plans to add another firefighter to its ladder trucks. “Right now we usually run two people on that ladder truck which is fine. We can get by with that. But if we can add one more person to get those ladders in service and utilize them. Sometimes with two people it’s difficult.”
Lt. Evans says the grant also allows Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue to focus on plans for growing the department. “As we get bigger, adding extra stations, we’ll have those people when we need them and not try to play catch up later on,” he says. And after the two years are up, Lt. Evans says he’s confident the department will have enough in its budget to continue funding the nine officers. “As a city we’re growing. We’re looking at new stations so I can see us absorbing that cost. And this just gives us a little more extra time to get that done within our budget to make a place for those firefighters.”
The recruits will finish their training in April.