'Quicker response times, closer to the customers:' HCFR station prepares for move

'Quicker response times, closer to the customers:' HCFR station prepares for move

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Fire Station 23 is nicknamed the 'Detention Hall' by those who know its cracks and crevices best.

Now, those firefighters are ready to move from Victory Lane to S.C. 544, with a new nickname for their new home already selected. A new station isn't the only benefit for the move, though. Better coverage and lower fire insurance rates are community benefits.

It's going to be called "The Roost," Station 23's Capt. Michael Noreck said as he showed a WMBF News reporter a Chanticleer teal coin with the old and new station on each side.

The firefighters who live in Station 23 won't be forgetting the old digs, but are ready for the move, he said.

"This station, its past, has a lot of great leaders that have been here, and a lot of great fireman who have come and gone from this station. So we are going to be doing a changing of the guard. We're going to leave the nickname of the station, 'The Detention Hall,' with the station, and the new station will have its own new name, new identity.  So, this one won't be forgotten, but we will be moving on from it," Noreck said.

The new Station on S.C. 544, near Singleton Ridge Road, is a long time coming. Originally part of a capital improvements project, groundbreaking for it happened in early fall 2016. Workers encountered an asbestos setback, but now the piece of land that once held an abandoned house is barely recognizable.

Noreck and HCFR spokesperson, Capt. Mark Nugent, said the new station will have upgraded features for the firefighters' living quarters.

There will also be better separation for the firefighters' smoke-filled equipment from the rest of the station. There will be two more bays, which will house Horry County's command vehicle, a community and recruitment classroom, and the county's HAZMAT team. A traffic light will be installed at the station's driveway so firefighters can more easily maneuver in and out during calls.

University Station 23 has always been busy. Nugent said it answered 673 fire calls and 2,359 medical calls in 2016. So far this year, it's responded to 322 fire calls and 1,446 medical calls.

Station 23 is close to a retirement community and Coastal Carolina University housing, but now it will be even closer. Horry County Councilman Johnny Vaught said Carolina Lakes has had slower response times and high fire insurance rates because of being out of range from fire stations.

Vaught said when he first came on council many residents contacted him about the high fire insurance issues.

"I know some people in Carolina Lakes. When the increase rates went into affect, it went up by $1,400," Vaught said.

This new fire house will lower the rates the day it opens, he explained. Plans are in the works for more homes to be built in the neighborhood. Vaught said their insurance rates would have been high too.

Vaught explained the fire house is part of a three-way deal with Horry Georgetown Technical College. As part of the deal, the college agreed to buy the Victory Lane fire station to use as a training ground, and Horry County used that money to buy the land for the S.C. 544 station.

Nugent said long-term plans to include community members are to hold a fire citizen's academy class and CPR classes in the new classroom of Station 23.

The station is slated to open in October.

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