Calhoun County Council voted to table plans for changes in fire service.

Council put aside an ordinance dissolving the county’s fire commission and amending a chapter regarding the duties and responsibilities of the Sandy Run and Calhoun County Rural fire districts.

During the council meeting, public comments were heard on the ordinance that would bring fire service under county jurisdiction with advisory boards from the districts.

Tris Waystack said there was a lack of transparency going into the decision.

“I don’t know how we ask you gentlemen to vote on something that we’re not even told what you’re voting on. You vote on the title but you don’t know what’s behind that title,” Waystack said.

“Let’s pump the brakes and let’s figure it out and have an open discussion with the fire chiefs of this county,” Waystack said. 

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Before the motion for tabling it, the ordinance got an update and clarification from County Administrator John McLauchlin.

“The advisory board and its members will offer advice and recommendations to the council that will help Calhoun County grow and achieve its goals,” McLauchlin said.

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“This change has nothing to do with the existing board members, operations or any of the volunteers. This is trying to keep up with the growth that is currently here and expected,” McLauchlin said.

The feeling is that the ordinance can be a beneficial to the districts and stations in the county by adding consistency throughout.

“Council and administration feels that by making both districts a department of the county, all eight stations will have more uniformity and will ultimately be on the same page,” McLauchlin said.

A Smoaks home exploded Monday night. Officials say it was caused by a gas leak. Photos courtesy Colleton County Fire and Rescue.

The lack of the county’s fire departments knowing the entirety of the ordinance was cited in tabling it. The motion was made by Councilman John Nelson.

“It does appear we have a great deal of interest from our various fire services around the county and certainly I think if we were to poll these folks, we would probably get a pretty strong message that they were not as informed about what we’re entering into,” Nelson said.

“We got first reading by title only, there’s no document, it’s in a draft form or very early draft form,” Nelson said.

If the ordinance were approved, the county would also have to hire a fire marshal and full-time paid staff.

There were two appearances at the meeting:

  • Dorlissa Adams of Heirs Property Preservation, a non-profit that protects the property of heirs and helps with its sustainable use so it can bring economic benefits to unprivileged families, according to their website.
  • Crystal Youmans with updates for the EMS and its community paramedic program.

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