MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (WMBF) - Multiple calls, extremely long hours and short staffing. Those are just a few issues Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District crews are dealing with.
Fire Chief Norman Knight said they’re using social media to shine a spotlight on these issues.
Back in July, the Murrells Inlet Garden City Fire District asked voters to pass a tax millage increase with the goal of increasing salaries, adding staff and bringing in another paramedic ambulance.
The final vote was against the increase and Knight said he believes it’s because the department’s need wasn’t clearly explained.
“The referendum wasn’t just about putting on another ambulance and trying to hire people for that. While that was one of the main focuses, it was also to generate more funds that we can be competitive with the rates that we pay our [employees], and the salaries we pay our [employees], and benefits we pay our employees,” he said.
That’s why the fire district has started posting more on social media to show just how stretched thin the crews have become.
One post this Saturday said: “11 calls before most of the crews even finished lunch. 3 of which were mutual aid medic units to Horry County.”
Ultimately the question of a tax millage increase may come up again and Knight said his crews will do a better job of explaining why they need the money.
When looking at the needs of other departments across the Grand Strand, Tony Casey with Horry County Fire Rescue said they’re a big organization and he believes they currently have five vacancies.
Officials with Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue said they only recruit once a year in January and right now they have five or six openings.
Knight said that despite the MIGC’s shortage, he wants to assure residents it’s not getting in the way of calls. Still, the chief hopes a social media campaign will help bring in more crews and resources so neighbors will continue to be protected.
“I used to say all of us were fishing for employees and personnel out of this giant ocean of availability," Knight said. "That ocean has dried up now to basically a puddle.”
He said the attraction to this career field has changed over the years and with the population increasing across the Grand Strand, it’s not slowing down the workload these crews are seeing.