After a setback in construction, the future Williamsburg County Fire/EMS building is heading toward completion. The current building located at Thurgood Marshall Highway has housed both the Fire Department and EMS for over 30 years and is past its functional use and is deemed unsafe during a storm.
The new 22,500 square foot facility located at 2100 MLK Highway includes a maintenance shop and training room. Funding to build the facility was made possible with the one cent penny tax citizens voted on in the 2016 election. “This will be safe for us during a storm because we have to be here for storms,” said EMS Director Judy McCrea. “This will withstand hurricane-force winds where that one is not designed to.” W.C. Fire Chief Randy Swinton said the current building lost its roof during storm.
There are other differences as well at present, none of the new engines fit in the old building. Housing and electrical will also be upgraded. “Right now, we’re having to use drop cords in some areas to have enough electrical for computers and such,” said McCrea. “This (new building) will have everything prewired.” At present there are no living quarters. During a storm, first responders sleep on air mattresses and couches. The new facility will house nine bed spaces for EMS and eight for firefighters. The fire department consists of 13 paid employees and 128 volunteers, EMS has 31 employees.
Swinton said they hope to have a ribbon cutting around December of this year. The plaque will include a special group. “The citizens of Williamsburg County are the reason we are getting this building,” said Swinton. “If all goes as planned, Swinton and McCrea said the facility will be dedicated to the citizens. “It’s from them who voted on the penny sales tax that helped build this building,” said McCrea. “So we believe it is appropriate to dedicated it to the citizens.” Swinton also thanked county supervisor Tiffany Wright and county council for their help. The tax also provided funding for the St. Lawrence substation being constructed and the Kingstree Fire/Police Department building that will be finished with a few weeks.