MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WBTW) — The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District noticed how much more flooding there’s been in the areas they serve and requested two high water vehicles from the South Carolina Forestry Commission and U.S. Department of Defense’s Firefighter Property Program.
The machines are decommissioned military vehicles that will help the district help its community and other agencies in flooding emergencies.
“That gives us the ability to respond, no matter what the weather is,” said Murrells Inlet-Garden City Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Kosto.
The six by six machines, in the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District’s most recent budget, cost them more than $900 each.
Broken down, that’s $2.50 per mile or a minimum of $200 per trip to cover costs associated with taking the vehicles to and from the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services, plus $50 per vehicle/trip.
The SC Forestry Commission requires the fire district to convert the equipment into a firefighting services unit that meets standards, paint the vehicles over the military colors and let the Commission know when it’s ready for operation.
The fire district also needs to make sure the vehicles are operational within six months and in-service for a year before the crew can get the titles for the machines.
Assistant Fire Chief Kosto says it can help more than a fire truck would in deep flood waters.
“You end up driving, you know, a $300-, $400-, $500,000 fire truck through these waters that they’re not built for and it turns into a lot of electrical problems and maintenance issues.”
The five ton light medium tactical vehicles will help the fire district to evacuate people in heavy flooding. But, they’re also working to equip them with fire pumps, so that the crew can work to put out fires with the vehicles, much like they do with a fire truck.
Kosto says the vehicle has features that will help to protect members of the fire crew who drive the machines in up to 26 to 30 inches of flood water.
“It has warnings on there to let you know to turn off certain electronics like the fan, so on and so forth, when you’re riding through those [flood waters],” said Kosto.
Kosto says they still need to train crewmembers and create a protocol on how to use the vehicles.
“Obviously, we don’t want to overdo with it. Just because it looks big, doesn’t mean it can get through whatever it has to. We’re still going to have to have a protocol to follow, which we are in the process of building,” said Kosto.
Once ready in a few weeks, he says the district can use the vehicles to help out other agencies, like the National Guard, respond to storm-related emergencies.
“We are here to help both ourselves, our community, and our neighbors’ communities, and for any mutual aid they need us for,” Kosto said. “We’ll be glad to help out.”