Safety hazards surround the Florence City-County Complex

FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) On Thursday, Florence County Council was made aware of the safety hazards within the City-County-Complex.

"The facilities in this building are among the most overcrowded and the most operationally the most ineffective that we have seen in the United States," said Michael Thomas, Justice Planning Associates.

Florence County Council members sought the advice of an outside consulting team on what to do with the newly freed-up space within the City-County Complex.

"What you need to do in this building is renovate it fairly substantially. Your mechanic systems are at the end of their useful life; your electrical system is past the end of its useful life," Thomas said.

The consultant hired to do the study said his firm rated the building 3.3 out of 10 for safety and effectiveness.

"I was surprised that we didn't have a fire suppression system in this building. It was one of the things I assumed we had, and as soon as he said that, I looked up at the ceiling and realized there are no sprinklers in this building," said, Jason Springs, Florence County Councilman.

Consultants gave court room spacing and security the lowest rating in the survey, calling it inappropriate. According to the study, the space that is used for court proceedings is not large enough to handle the amount of traffic that is currently streaming through the facility. Consultants said the lack of security to handle that traffic crowded in those spaces presents an even bigger issue.

"I've always been somewhat concerned about the security in this building; it's something that really needs to be updated – but it going to take funding to get there," said Waymond Mumford, Florence County Council.

Early estimates show it would take $17 million to update the 11-story building, but councilmembers say there isn't enough funding to fix these problems right now. The City of Florence just moved out of the complex, so county council members said they will shift around some of the departments to try and work out the overcrowding issue. As for the other problems, council members say they will be fixed as budgeting allows.

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