Agreement to reduce Surfside Beach Fire response to Horry County homes

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Some people in Horry County may not see as many first responders during emergencies because of an updated agreement between Surfside Beach Fire Rescue and Horry County Fire Rescue.

“[Surfside] Town Council has asked that we try to keep our vehicles in town,” said Surfside Beach Fire Chief, Kevin Otte. “The county fire chief and myself came together, looked at the response areas and decided these areas we’ve swapped out will work out best for everyone.”

In the past, Surfside Beach and Horry County Fire Rescue would both automatically respond to areas right outside of Surfside Beach, which are technically in Horry County Fire Rescue’s jurisdiction.

The updated Memorandum of Understanding says Surfside Beach Fire Rescue would not automatically respond to emergencies in some communities, like Deerfield and Caropines.

However, if Horry County Fire Rescue knew they needed additional help, Surfside Beach Fire Rescue would come when requested.

“If they have a fire and they need us, we’re close enough,” said Chief Otte. “The Chief and I both agree we’ll respond to those areas because it’s close to our station.”

The agreement does not affect people living in the Ocean Lakes, Longbay and Prestwick communities. You can see a map of the communities affected by clicking here.

Some Surfside Town Council members were not in favor of the agreement because they didn’t want Surfside Beach Fire Rescue responding to any calls outside of the town. For councilwoman Julie Samples, it comes down to money.

“We are their first responders,” said Samples, about county residents receiving Surfside Beach Fire Rescue aid. “And we don’t get that tax money.”

Chief Otte said he understands council members’ concerns but says the town needs the mutual aid from Horry County Fire Rescue. The county provides two EMS workers who work out of the Surfside Beach Fire station.

“I understand the council’s concern that they want to keep our vehicles in town as much as we can keep them in town,” said Otte. “But we need the aid.”

He believes people in the Deerfield and Caropines communities should not see a change in response times because of this change.

“The [Horry County Fire Rescue] station from Scipio Lane is close enough to those areas,” said Otte. “That’s who responded before Surfside responded. So it’s just a matter of going back to the old way that they had in place. And if that station’s busy, Surfside will be sent.”

The agreement passed a vote by Surfside Town Council but no changes will be made until Horry County Council is able to vote.