North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue prepares for more growth after record number of calls in 2021
NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s no secret Horry County is continuing to experience more and more growth, but North Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue was among the agencies to see it firsthand last year.
According to the division, firefighters responded to 5,936 incidents last year, eclipsing the previous record of 4,952 calls set in 2020.
That roughly 20% increase in calls, but didn’t necessarily come as a surprise to the department.
Billy Floyd, the department’s deputy fire chief, said in the last ten years, they’ve seen about a 52% increase in call volume.
“The past four, five years alone during the New Years’ holiday, our traffic’s been comparable to July 4th weekend, so we’ve seen that so-called ‘off-season’ kind of go away now,” Floyd said. “So that brings more calls when you have those people steadily coming in all year long.”
NMB Fire Rescue operates out of five stations. The majority of them stay busy, with the Tidewater station experiencing quieter periods - but the division said there are more possibilities of residential development in the vicinity.
“A lot of growth in and around all areas of the city,” Floyd said.
It comes during a time where public safety departments continue to struggle with recruitment and retention efforts.
“Right now, it’s hard to recruit firefighters. It’s hard to keep them in the fire service, said NMB Fire Rescue Chief Garry Spain. “The economy is doing so well out there right now, that we are suffering, just like every other workforce in losing our personnel to other jobs.”
The department has been able to add 12 firefighters to the team in the last couple of years. They are currently applying for a grant to obtain more crew members.
Construction of additional stations - Station 6 and Station 7 - have been on pause after the pandemic drove up prices for steel and lumber, elevating costs to a level no longer deemed feasible. However, Spain is hopeful they’ll be able to break ground in the nearby future.
“We feel like the prices will be significantly reduced at this point than it was back then,” Spain said.
Station 6 would be located by the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, while Station 7 would be situated in the Water Tower area.
“We’re growing. It’s just a busy time,” Spain said.
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