GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A Grand Strand fire district is asking for more than $100,000 again this year from Georgetown County in ATAX funding.
Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District is asking Georgetown County for $154,000 in ATAX funding this year. Last year, they asked for $200,000 to help with 7-day staffing, but they were only able to give $150,000, giving them three days of staffing.
Battalion Chief Brennan Moore said that within the last year, they’ve had about 6,800 calls — and it keeps increasing.
“We won’t be able to afford, it’s completely impossible,” he said. “And that means we would have to shut down a fire station, we should shut down equipment so to respond without a delayed response.”
Moore said their beach and boat staff get them to an incident immediately. He added that those units already on emergency calls wouldn’t be able to respond without a delay.
“$150,000 will be right about able to keep the three days going during peak times and then add, I want to add two extra weeks that are floating,” he said. “14 days total where we see that high volume around, especially Fourth of July, where there’s a high increase in calls.”
Moore said through last year’s ATAX, they started a program called MIMSI — which stands for Murrells Inlet Marine Safety Initiative, that allowed them to get new equipment for the staff working those three days.
But the agency hopes to get more equipment.
“We need a jet ski to replace our older jet ski,” Moore said. “It’s 2018. She’s about had it. She was out of service for a little bit last year. We want to be sure we’re able to respond.”
He said because of the ATAX staffing money from last year, they were able to find three missing children.
“Five victims pulled from the water, actively drowning,” Moore said. “We had six total calls during the season. Six of those were during ATAX staffing.”
Moore already has plans for the funds besides just future staffing.
“We’ll have safety videos on there for children and adults alike that will include lightning strikes, storm surge, rip currents, beach safety with your children,” he said.
Moore said the new safety signs will also allow those on the beach to know what access they’re at and will help the dispatcher find them. He said their goal now and moving forward is to have no lives lost.
Moore also said they’re planning on dividing the fund requests between Horry and Georgetown County next year.
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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.