Florence County Fire Services Coordinator Sam Brockington says Timmonsville Volunteer Fire Department failed to respond to a house fire on West Main Street at 4:55 p.m. last Thursday, and he's advocating Florence County Fire Department taking over management of the Timmonsville fire district.
Brockington says the TVFD department was toned out six times by 911 dispatchers for the house fire, but its firefighters never responded.
"The policy in dispatch is six tones and then we refer to emergency contact list. If dispatch is unable to get someone by radio, then they try by telephone," said Brockington.
Brockington is the emergency contact. When dispatchers reached him, he told them to call the neighboring Sardis-Timmonsville Fire Department, which has a mutual aid agreement with Timmonsville.
A similar situation happened Monday afternoon, when Florence County Emergency Management Division says TVFD was dispatched at 3:52 p.m to a transformer fire on North Brockington Street but didn't arrive until 26 minutes later.
"Unfortunately, in the last several months it's become a situation where dispatch will actually call me and ask for permission to send Sardis-Timmonsville to the Town of Timmonsville," Brockington explained. "We're concerned for the citizens in Timmonsville. Practically speaking, Sardis Timmonsville is handling fire calls there especially any structure fires."
In response, Timmonsville Fire Chief Mark Burroughs issued a statement to WPDE NewsChannel 15:
"We are a volunteer fire department. Central (911) knows after three tones automatically to dispatch Sardis-Timmonsville.
Sardis-Timmonsville and Timmonsville Fire Department have mutual aid agreement. When we need help they help us and if they need help, we help them," said Burroughs.
Brockington says dispatchers will actually send out six tones before calling the mutual aid department.
"While Sardis Timmonsville does have a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Timmonsville, mutual aid agreements meaning that the first department responds and if they need help they call for help. But technically they do not have to respond until an officer with Timmonsville Fire ask for help," Brockington said.
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.
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.