SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – On Monday night, the Surfside Beach Town Council approved a memorandum adjusting the town's mutual aid agreement with Horry County Fire Rescue.
"In our world today, we never know what happens from minute to minute and we need help coming here as well as us sending help outside," said Surfside Beach Fire Chief Kevin Otte. "As everybody is aware, we continue to build in Horry County. I don't think there's any section of the county that is not putting up new homes or new businesses."
Otte said it's important to make sure these growing areas get the coverage they need, and though it may seem like a significant cut down on his end, the chief assures the community it's not going to affect response times.
"The only difference is the 50 percent cut is only a 50 percent cut on locations," he said.
To break it down, Otte said the Surfside Beach Fire Department will still respond to the town of Surfside Beach and the part of Horry County to the north of the town, near the campgrounds and the Crystal Lakes and Prestwick areas.
The portion that will now be Horry County's responsibility is the Deerfield community and the areas that surround it.
"We will not answer the calls in those areas on the initial call, but if they do need us there, they can certainly call for us there," Otte said.
He added this is solely based on which station can respond the quickest while also freeing up the Surfside Beach Fire Department to answer other calls.
"You know, you're only talking a mile difference for the engine that comes out of the Horry County station to get to those areas that we were responding to that were a mile away from here," Otte said.
Horry County will also continue to aid Surfside Beach in the ways it has been for years. Otte wants to assure all residents, both town and county, they are taken care of.
"By no means anything to panic over. Coverage will still be there. Personnel will still be on scene. Training, equipment, everything is all going to be the same," he said.
The memorandum is waiting on the county administrator's signature, with Otte expecting it to become practice within the next few weeks.