Horry County Fire Rescue needs new, upgraded stations to match population growth

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CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – Several new fire stations, upgrades and hiring more firefighters are all listed as needs for Horry County in the next two decades.

At Horry County Council last week, planners said people who responded to the Imagine 2040 survey said public safety was the number one issue that concerned them in their communities over the next 20 years.

“We’ve looked at everything from road needs, fire station needs, the expansion of the (emergency operations center), the detention center,” said Leigh Kane, a community development planner for Horry County, to council at last week’s meeting.

Imagine 2040 is the comprehensive plan to help the county make decisions about development and infrastructure. In several cases of developers trying to build hundreds of homes across the county, neighbors have complained to the county that more development would hurt emergency services.

Imagine 2040 says Horry County Fire Rescue will need six new stations throughout the county in the next two decades. Those locations are Prestwick near Surfside Beach, Oak Street near Conway, U.S. Highway 378, the Shell community on South Carolina Highway 905, Atlantic Beach and Carolina Forest.

Existing stations like in Forestbrook and Socastee will also need upgrades or expansions. Renovations will be needed at the stations in Ketchuptown, Cates Bay, Mount Olive, North Myrtle Beach and Loris. Replacements are also needed for HCFR’s facility in Myrtle Beach on 21st Avenue North, as well as its stations in Longs and Finklea.

Imagine 2040 also outlines other improvements for HCFR like converting firefighters in several stations from volunteer to career positions. The Carolina Bays and Longs stations are listed as needing to convert from volunteer to career stations. The stations in Cherry Hill, Goretown, Joyner Swamp, Nixonville/Wampee, Maple, Antioch, Mt. Vernon, and Floyds are all mentioned as eventually moving from volunteer to day staff.

The plan also says HCFR will have to move to three-person staffing by hiring 18 more firefighters.

“These are not merely wishlist,” said Kane. “These are things just to keep up with the growth that is occurring and the growth that has already occurred.”

Those who responded to last year’s Imagine 2040 survey also said they wouldn’t mind paying extra for public safety improvements.

County council is expected to hold a public hearing about Imagine 2040, before giving it final approval on September 3.

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