Five rural Berkeley County fire departments to merge operations

Berkeley County News

BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Five rural fire departments in Berkeley County are merging operations.

The St. Stephen Volunteer Fire Department, Lake Moultrie Fire Dept., Bonneau Rural Fire Dept., and 41 Rural Fire Dept. are combining with Shulerville-Honey Hill Fire Department and will be managed from St. Stephen.

Jamie Woodberry, who lives in Bonneau, said he believes the consolidation will help when it comes to response times.

“Coverage area one thing. And the response time, I think, will be greatly improved over that,” said Woodberry.

Each fire district will contain paid, part-time firefighters. The departments will also be allowed to maintain their individual identities, including keeping their department names.

St. Stephen Volunteer Fire Department and Chief Lee Wadford will lead all five districts.

Each department volunteered to be part of the merger. Fire officials saw a way to help save money by eliminating unnecessary duplication.

“Better equipped departments and they can save some money to buy equipment,” said Woodberry.

A unified Board of Directors containing representatives from each fire district with run the organization.

“Very, very important,” Woodberry said. “I’ve had to use them a few times in my life and they’ve always helped me out very much so.”

Four of the five departments have already consolidated. Effective July 1st, Schulerville-Honey Hill will consolidate as well.

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