HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The new S.C. 544 fire station has been a long time in the making. Now, plans are being finalized and residents may begin seeing bulldozers very soon along that highway.
The Horry County Planning Committee is expected to approve plans Thursday to rezone the land at 1597 Highway 544 in Horry County so a fire station can be built there. The property is 1.9 acres and sits between a BB&T bank and the Carolina Marketplace Antique Mall. If approved, the University fire station, known as Station 23, will move there.
Horry County District 8 Chairman Johnny Vaught said the council's plans for a previous property fell through, but sights are set on this one.
"We basically have a contract on it, and we're doing due diligence on it and it's going to be perfect for the fire station," Vaught said.
An abandoned and boarded brick house sits on the property now. If the zoning is passed and the proposal makes its way through Horry County Council next month, we could see construction there within the next 2-4 months, Vaught says.
The basic blueprint is made for the design of the fire house. A bid to build will be made available to contractors.
Station 23 and Victory Lane have been sold to Horry Georgetown Technical College.
The new Highway 544 fire house will solve the problem of high fire insurance rates for some homes in the area. In February, we told you how some Highway 544 families have had fire insurance rates as much as triple because there isn't a fire house within a 5 mile radius of their home. Those families will now save money and live closer to fire rescue once the new fire station is built.
Another issue in the Highway 544 communities is the lack of fire hydrants on both sides of the 4 lane highway. In a January house fire, parts of Highway 544 were shut down for two hours because firefighters had to connect the hose to fire hydrants on the other side of the highway. Firefighters had to stop traffic to string the fire hose from the home to the hydrant. Area residents complained the location of the fire hydrants hurt efforts to save the home. The Horry County Council and Horry County Fire Rescue have come up with a plan to hopefully make the issue a problem of the past and save homes in the future.
The fire department is in the testing phases of trying something that's like a portable bridge, or speed bump, to go over the fire hose. This will protect it from cars and firefighters will be able to focus on the fire instead of stopping fast, dangerous Highway 544 traffic.
Horry County Fire Rescue said they're not ready to disclose any more information. Chairman Vaught says the idea is used in other fire departments, and he hopes this fixes the problem.