CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Fire Rescue is looking for federal help from FEMA to add at least 30 more firefighters.
HCFR has about 650 career and volunteer firefighters. They cover about 1,200 square miles.
As the county’s population grows, HCFR is also looking to expand.
“It would just help us get equipment and personnel to scenes faster, so that’s how it would increase our ability to serve the community,” said HCFR spokesperson Tony Casey.
It’s part of a FEMA grant program called SAFER, which stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. SAFER’s goal is to maintain or increase the number of “front line” firefighters in communities.
HCFR’s plan would cost up to $6,527,456.85. The three-year SAFER grant would cover up to $3,728,046. The grant would cover 75 percent of the costs for the 30 firefighters in years one and two, decreasing to 35 percent in year three.
The county would pay the remaining $2,799,410.85 over the three-year SAFER grant. The county would pay 100 percent of the costs for the 30 firefighters by year four.
HCFR could also apply for funding for 42 firefighters, which would cost $9,138,739.59 and be split the same way, but Casey says that’s not as likely.
“We think 30 is a competitive spot where we could add the most firefighters through this grant,” Casey said.
The county’s public safety committee recommended a resolution for the SAFER grant Tuesday. The resolution now goes to county council for approval and could be voted on as soon as March 19.
Horry County Fire Chief Joey Tanner says this would help HCFR reach its goal of having three firefighters running each truck.
“They’d just be general firefighter/EMS,” said Casey. “We would train them, cross-train them immediately and hopefully get them out there as soon as possible.”
The SAFER grant application is due March 22. HCFR says it takes 10-12 months to find out if the application has been accepted.
If the grant is awarded, the firefighters would start working about six months later.