South Carolina’s Urban Search & Rescue team needs more funding, fire marshal says

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — When disaster strikes in South Carolina or just about anywhere in the South, the South Carolina Urban Search and Rescue team responds.

State Fire Marshal Jonathan Jones says the program needs some additional funding from the state.

He told a panel of state lawmakers, “We’re funding it to the best we can. It’s just not enough.”

Right now, the team is funded through the State Fire Marshal’s Office and State Fire Academy budgets.

According to Jones, the program has received one-time money from state budgets over the last few years, including $850,000 in 2020.

Jones said the money is being used to update equipment, some of which the team has been using for 15 to 20 years, according to Jones.

Jones told lawmakers in the state Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s budget request they’ll be asking for a $1 million in yearly allocations for Urban Search and Rescue, and other similar programs.

Jones said it’s critical to fund this team because it’s one of the only teams that could respond to a large-scale search and rescue operation within hundreds of miles.

“There is not another team like it anywhere on the east coast from Virginia Beach to Miami,” he said.

Jones said if the money is allocated they will also be able to recruit more members for the team.

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