Kingstree Fire Chief Tim Duke watches firefighter Sara Welch stipple white stars on a flag. “It’s been 30 years, 7 months, 28 days, 22 minutes, and 37 seconds, but who’s counting,” said Duke. He is referring to the new fire station that is currently under construction and Welch is putting the finishing touches on a handcrafted flag that will be displayed inside.
Welch approached Duke about making one for the station after seeing a similar flag at a station in Georgetown. “He said, sure and you’re in charge,” she said bearing a huge grin. Many hands made the three-by-five art piece. It is constructed of retired fire hoses from the department’s engines and painted red and blue or left natural. The pieces are secured on a wooden platform that was cut by local electrician Johnny Moore and charred and stained by the chief.
Firefighters often create distinctive Stars and Stripes to display in their departments. Some are completely made of wood while others may include the thin red line, used by fire departments to show respect for firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty.
KFD’s flag will be prominently displayed in the facility located next to Kingstree Town Hall when construction is complete. “Literally blood sweat and tears has gone into making this,” said Duke. “This doesn’t represent the fire department. This represents your husband, veterans, everybody. It represents America.”
The current quonset style facility was built in 1989 after Hurricane Hugo and was supposed to be temporary. It will be turned over to the Water and Street Department when the new facility is open. A grand opening is expected to take place sometime around the end of June. Williamsburg County’s Capital Project Sales Tax revenues provided for much of the construction as well as many much-needed spaces and equipment for county agencies such as public service and first responders.
The KFD crew answers an average of 300 to 500 calls per year providing fire suppression and rescue services as well as assisting Williamsburg County EMS with medical emergencies. Staff includes seven career and 24 volunteer firefighters.