2017-01-20 / Government / Neighborhood

Lower Richland Fire Station fully staffed

Contributed by Richland PIO

Residents of Lower Richland can expect first responders to be on the scene of emergencies faster than ever, now that a grant has paid for a local station to be fully staffed by firefighters.

Columbia-Richland County Fire Department Chief Aubrey Jenkins announced the department is the recipient of a Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The $1.3 million grant will pay for 11 firefighters to fully staff Lower Richland Station 22 for two years.

Presently, the station, located next to Lower Richland High School, is staffed by one career firefighter and one battalion chief.

“Lower Richland is rural and a large area to cover, so having a fast response time is always a concern,” said Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson of District 11, which encompasses a large part of the Lower Richland community. “Eleven firefighters are very welcome here.”

Jenkins said the SAFER grant can offer peace of mind to residents in the Lower Richland area.

“This grant allows us to enhance our response time for residents,” he said. “This area of the county is growing, and with growth comes the need to provide adequate services.”

Beginning January 14, four firefighters staff ed Station 22 around the clock, allowing the crew to respond to emergencies with immediacy. Jenkins pointed out that although the station will have in-house firefighters, the department will continue to rely upon its trained volunteers for additional response.

“Our volunteers are vitality important to us and to residents and will continue to be much needed,” he said.

The SAFER grant provides funding for the firefighters for two years. As the grant funding nears its expiration, Jenkins said the fire department will conduct an evaluation to determine what steps to take next.

Station 22 is also the recent recipient of Engine 22, a new apparatus that was put in service in November 2016.

The Columbia-Richland Fire Department received some of its highest Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings ever in 2016, meaning residents and businesses pay lower insurance premiums because of the department’s overall excellence, as determined by a national, independent firm.

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