DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – As Dorchester County grows, so does the need for fire protection – especially in rural areas of the county.

Dorchester County leaders are working to expand their fire protection and need more volunteers to help extinguish fires within the community.

“We are a fast-growing combination fire department, which means that we’re volunteer and paid staff,” said Chief Tres Atkinson, Dorchester County Fire Department. “We’re feeling the pain of the growth of our county and trying to make sure we stay ahead of the curve and make sure our responses are appropriate.”

The county has recently been upgrading fire facilities and apparatus, even new stations.

“We’re building a new one in Summers Corner area. We have a new one going up on Wire Road which is a rural area; all these improvements help but I also help with insurance to help keep our community safer,” said Chief Atkinson.

But with these upgrades, they need more volunteers. “Currently, we have about 80 full-time staff and about 50 volunteers on staff. We’re trying to grow that number of our rural area of volunteers because that complements what we’re doing on both sides. More people on the scene, of course, it’s safer- more apparatus to get out the door quicker and we’re trying to get people invested into than their communities- being part of service to their neighbors and the people they live with.”

Chief Atkinson says you don’t need experience, or even have the desire to go into a fire, to help out.

“You could be a support member which could do anything from help them stay outside of the house to driving a truck to get water for firefighters as they come out of the house out of a structure. Even to full interior structure firefighting. We’ll provide those classes for you as well- send you to the training to make sure you have all the training to do that if that’s your desire.”