BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The Sandridge Volunteer Fire Department on Monday took to Facebook to announce that the department has effectively been dissolved after the majority of its members resigned.
According to the post, the resignations came as a result of the department being unable to “come to a working relationship with [their] board,” an issue that has been stirring for a while.
Former Fire Chief Richard Demmerle said that the fire fighters feel disrespected by the board, and things have been building up throughout the year.
The post went on to say that the department felt unequipped to “properly protect the community, or [themselves] under the leadership of [their] current board.”
Demmerle said that the board refuses to approve needed items for the department, and won’t allow him to apply for grants.
Board Chairman Kevin Harkins said that the root of the problem is money: “you can’t spend more money than you’ve got.”
Board Secretary Linda Harkins shot back, saying Demmerle is a bully, and that publicizing the issue is premature. She told News 2 crews on scene to get off of the property.
The wave of resignations rendered the department unable to meet the standards to provide fire protection in Berkeley County. As such, the areas covered by the Sandridge Volunteer Fire Department “will be supplemented by [the] surrounding departments.”
“As volunteers that deeply care for [their] community,” those behind the post said that they hope to “work with the county to ensure [they] get the fire protection the community deserves as soon as possible.”
Board members and fire fighters will meet separately with county officials on Wednesday.