Horry County firefighters practice in Grand Strand high-rise hotel

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – High-rise hotels are a Grand Strand fixture. They're great for tourists, but they can create serious problems in emergency situations.

That means first responders in the Grand Strand have to train for anything. Reporter Will Whitson got a first-hand look at what Horry County Fire Rescue has to prepare for during a high-rise emergency drill Thursday.

When a fire alarm gets pulled at a high-rise like the Myrtle Beach Hilton, firefighters can't take their heavy equipment up the elevators – they have to use the stairs.

During Thursday's drill, there was no one in the hotel rooms, and no fire, but what the firefighters practiced could mean the difference between a small hotel fire, and total destruction.

"Today we're having a high rise drill at the Hilton; it's a simulated fire on the fifth floor," said Battalion Chief Dan Shankle.

The ladder truck only reaches so high, which means all their heavy equipment, and those big fire hoses, have to move up the stairs by hand.

All in all, the drill only takes about 20 minutes.

"Take what personnel you have, do a quick search of the hallways, see if you can find the engineer that's lost up there," a radio operator commanded during the simulation. But the firefighters treat the drill like it's the real deal, because one day, they may have to be back for the real thing.

""There's a considerable amount of high rises, just in this general area of lake arrowhead," Battalion Chief Shankle said.

The simulation today was just for a small room fire. Battalion Chief Shankle says the sprinkler systems in the hotel should contain much of the fire, but ultimately, the fire department has to put it out.

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