FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Howe Springs Fire Department recently celebrated their new headquarters on South Irby Street.
With around 60 members constantly training, officials say the new station is something the department needed, allowing firefighters to do their jobs better and safer.
Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Bennett says the old facility was outgrown and outdated, making everyday tasks difficult.
"Before we had to put brazen under the second floor because it was starting to sag, just a lot of issues going on with the old station," Bennett said.
He added the new building is larger, up to code and perfectly situated in the fire district.
"We cover about 165 miles of the county and this puts us almost in the middle of our fire district, which is convenient for our offices to be there," Bennett said.
Along with the new building comes improved equipment that's important to firefighters' health. The department now has a gym, a separate room for an apparatus compressor and equipment to remove harmful material from bunker gear.
"Carcinogens is a big thing we're constantly fighting. Firemen are at a much higher risk for cancer, so having that really helps out," Bennett said
The total cost allocated for the new building was $3.7 million, but the department came in under budget. Bennett said a lot of the guys took pride in the new building, pitching in to save money.
"Putting the final touches on, a lot of the guys chipped in, provided labor and time to make all that happen," Bennett said.
The new station also has a conference room, larger office space, a large classroom with a smart board and four live-in dorms, thereby providing the department room to grow.