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      Florence County offers to take over Timmonsville Fire Department

      Florence County wants to include Timmonsville's volunteer fire department in a proposed ordinance to that would fund them through the county.

      Sardis-Timmonsville, another volunteer department in the county, would be responsible for providing fire protection for Timmonsville, under the management of the Florence County Fire Department.

      Sardis-Timmonsville would hire two full-time firefighters to work the Timmonsville Fire Department during the hours of 8 a.m until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

      Florence County Fire and Rescue Services Coordinator Sam Brockington says the proposal is a win-win situation for Timmonsville.

      "We're basically offering that if they would like to have the fire department included in the Sardis Timmonsville Fire Department for operations the town would no longer have to fund those types of expenses nor have the liabilities," said Brockington.

      He adds residents would pay the same millage as all property owners in the county.

      "An example, if the new budget requires 20 mills to operate, it would cost the property owner with $100,000 worth of property approximately $100. And that is more than offset by the insurance savings of the Class 6 rating that Sardis-Timmonsville presently has," explained Brockington.

      Timmonsville town officials say they could save an average of $20,000 a year if they allowed Florence County to take over its fire department.

      "It will save the town a lot of money and there would be better training. It will be better for all the fireman combined. Instead of having sometimes two men work a fire, you'll have 15 or 20," said Councilman Jim Pigate.

      Timmonsville Town Council has to decide if they want the county to assume control of its fire department.

      If they approve it, some residents say the town will lose what's left of its identity.

      "If Florence is taking over everything, so it should be Florenceville instead of Timmonsville," said Robert Dicks, Timmonsville.

      Florence City is set to take over Timmonsville's water systems. Florence County deputies have been patrolling the town since last May when Timmonsville fired its police department.

      Some residents say if the town isn't going to provide those basic services, maybe it needs to turn in its charter.

      "It's like it's just wasting away. It's there's nothing here after they take away fire department, police department. They might as well just bulldoze the town away," said Mikel Jones, Timmonsville.

      Brockington says he doesn't want Timmonsville to lose its identity and that's not the aim of the county's offer to help.

      "We certainly believe in leaving the identity," Brockington said. "We certainly don't want to call it Florence County Fire Department. We want to leave the local name, local volunteers, local participation. It's one more avenue to give the Town of Timmonsville and opportunity to focus on the mission they have at the core. Maybe they can renew their police department. Focus on something else and not worry about the fire protection."

      Timmonsville Town Council has until November to decide if they want the county to take over its fire department.

      If they approve it, council will notify the Florence County Council chairman in writing and request Timmonsville be included in the Sardis Timmonsville Fire Protection District under the county.

      Brockington says Florence County Council will introduce the ordinance in December and vote on it.