MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Federal Grant pays funds nine new firefighters for two years.
Nine of the 17 new firefighters are funded by a federal grant.
While the training will begin Friday with a tour of the city…Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue, already knows which roles these firefighters will fill and the department tells WMBF news this grant is coming at the perfect time.
"It's huge for us, you know we've been so busy for so long. Calls continue to increase, and the amount of people who come here to visit and live here year round continues to increase. And it's taxed our resources," Deputy Chief, Tom Gwyer said.
The grant for over one million dollars, will cover the cost of nine firefighters for two years and it will allow the department to put a much needed extra person on its ladder trucks.
The kind of truck, Gwyer says can often get through traffic faster than an engine, and be the first on scene.
"It takes them about twelve minutes to do that primary search. Where as, if you add a third person you can cut it down to about nine minutes. So certainly your survivability is a whole lot better if we can find you and actually remove the victim," Gwyer explained.
Going from two to three people on a ladder truck, can also help keep watch.
"…if you think about even just on a vehicle fire on 17 bypass for example. If you only have two people… one person's operating the pump, and the other on the hose line. No one's watching that person's back with traffic, no one is helping them access the vehicle and that sort of thing," he said.
The grant will also allow Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue to have a 24/7 safety officer.
"Every time we go to an escalating or a critical incident, not only do we have a battalion chief that responds that's an incident commander, that's overall in charge of the incident operations. Now we have a safety officer and that person's role is nothing more than being a safety officer," he said.
Deputy Chief Gwyer says the training will wrap up in April. Just in time for the summer crowds.
"…and then it gives them about a month or so to really get their feet wet before memorial day kicks in and the season gets here. As far as getting them training and getting them experienced for about a month or so before it gets really crazy," he explained.
While the department is by no means obligated to keep the nine firefighters past the two year grant deadline, Gwyer says in the past the department has kept them, because it's a benefit to the city to have as many experienced firefighters as possible.