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Florence County Unified Fire District unveils four new water rescue boats

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 8:24 PM EDT
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FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Florence County’s Unified Fire District unveiled four new water rescue boats giving the county a total of eight boats.

The four boats along with equipment and training cost the county $177,000.

Many Florence County firefighters were forced to use their personal boats to perform rescues along the county’s waterways following Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

The historic floods showed the district needed the proper equipment to keep people safe along the area’s rivers and creeks

Fire District Coordinator Sam Brockington said they reached out to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, who helped them find four of the best boats and the best equipment to enhance their water rescue game.

“We’ve already had a threat just last week, and those threats put lives in danger and we’ve got the equipment, the manpower and facilities to protect our number one commodity, our citizens,” Brockington said.

Each boat was bought to handle specific waterways in the county.

“The Lynches River is the longest and requires a 15-foot boat. Black Creek area needs the smallest boat, but we seem to have the most water rescues there, and the Pee Dee is a different animal completely, especially when it’s flooded,” Brockington said.

Hannah-Salem-Friendfield Fire department has a larger boat to handle the wide Great Pee Dee River.

While Johnsonville, Howe Springs, Windy Hill, South Lynches and Sardis-Timmonsville Fire Departments have smaller boats to maneuver through the Lynches River and Black Creek.

“We discussed today in addition to, if the call is in one particular area we’re going to send one in the neighboring area as well so send two boats on all calls,” Brockington said.

All boat operators will be going through an SCDNR course, and the fire district will conduct water rescue training in the coming weeks.

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