Council chairman promises solutions to HCFR problems at upcoming budget retreat

A firefighter union member observes an Horry County Council meeting. (WPDE)

For the second time in two months, Horry County Council members listened as International Association of Fire Fighters leaders pleaded for the county to dedicate more resources into its firefighters.

"The industry standard is achieved when you have a minimum of 15 firefighters assembled on the scene," IAFF 1st District Vice President William Pesature said. "Right now, based on your manning levels, it takes you eight vehicles to get to that level."

Pesature said the county needs to add more firefighters to each responding truck, so it would take less time and energy to put fires out.

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His fellow representatives also mentioned the department's high turnover with paramedics, which they said has led to millions of dollars wasted on training.

Council Chairman Mark Lazarus noted that the union representatives were from outside the county, but told reporters he's taking the issue seriously.

"We hear it loud and clear," Lazarus said. "I think you'll see a proposal that I will make at the budget retreat to solve some of those financial issues, that will hopefully cut down, if we can fill those positions, we should cut down on the overtime."

He explained that the paramedic shortage was a state-wide issue and said his focus is on filling the vacancies the department currently has.

RELATED: HCFR looks to county that solved staffing problems years ago

The budget retreat is scheduled for March 22 and 23. Lazarus said more than half of it would be devoted to public safety concerns.

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