MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Fire departments across the Grand Strand responded to a record number of calls last year, and that didn't slow down in January. In the South Strand, the fire department hopes to add new equipment and staff to keep up with demand.
Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire Chief Norman Knight said a 2017 goal is to get a new 75-foot ladder truck, an ambulance, and to add more firefighters down the road.
It's a need in this community, as more people call the area home.
Chief Knight said that as this area grows, they're seeing higher call numbers, but his District differs from others. He said most their 459 January emergency calls were EMS-related, due to an aging population and a lot of traffic issues.
At Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue, their spokesman says the majority the 14,000 calls last year and 1,000 calls this January were also EMS related, but tended to be more tourist or drug issues.
Myrtle Beach recently invested in new beach rescue equipment and refurbished ambulances.
In Murrells Inlet and Garden City, officials are looking to replace an aging ambulance and ladder truck. Chief Knight said a new year brings new goals for all departments, and "a new energy, more than anything else, on being able to accomplish the things we need to accomplish this year in order to continue to provide quality fire care for our citizens and our visitors alike, because we're seeing an increase in folks coming here to vacation."
New home purchases and new businesses do more than boost the local economy; they also contribute to better first responder services for you and your family.
Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District is reaping in the benefits from last year's millage tax increase. In 2015, voters decided to increase the tax mill from 10 to 14. More money, means better equipment for the departments.
Some of the tax revenue from those developments goes into your local fire department's piggy bank. Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire has at least two new neighborhoods in its district - a lot of land ripe for development and business coming to 17 Bypass.
Chief Knight said the growth is leading to department improvements.
"We are seeing a significant influx of growth, not only on the residential side, but also on the commercial side," he said. "W have a new Publix going up on 707 and we just received plans today for a Mellow Mushroom going up on 17 Business, and there are some other rumors going around that some other commercial establishments are going to be coming to the district as well."
While there's new things to look forward to for this department this year, in 2016 Murrells Inlet opened a new fire station and added nine new firefighters to man it.
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