Horry County Fire Rescue graduates largest class of firefighters, EMTs in state history

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:44 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Public safety is a key issue for Horry County leaders. But in order to keep people safe, they need more first responders.

Horry County Fire Rescue graduated the largest class of new firefighters and EMTs in South Carolina history, with 58 joining the department Friday night.

“I think everything I’ve done in life has led me to where I am right now,” said Julia Currier, the record-breaking class’s valedictorian.

Currier has a passion for helping people - and that passion, along with a medical background, led her to HCFR.

One thing all that passion and experience couldn’t prepare her for, though, was the fire school maze.

“I don’t even know how to begin with that one,” said Currier. “You’re all geared up, blacked out with your face shield, can’t see anything just have to feel with a hand search.”

Currier made it out of the maze as the valedictorian of the largest graduating firefighter and EMT class in state history.

Her record-breaking class will be busy, handling another record that is constantly broken in Horry County: call volume.

The department saw 74,000 calls in 2021, more than any other year before it.

“Horry County Fire Rescue pumps out really high-quality first responders,” said department spokesperson Tony Casey. “It’s exciting for us. We’re now north of 500 first responders in operation for Horry County, so as our region grows, we’re growing right along with it.”

Currier had so many classmates because Horry County has so many new fire stations coming over the next few years in Longs, Highway 90, Shell, Forestbrook, Aynor and Loris.

The department is committed to making larger stations so they can service more people and act as a second home to first responders.

“I’m open to wherever,” said Matthew Rockenstyre, who also graduated Friday. “I’m learning the ropes. I’m all about seeing new people, places, things.”

Currier is still waiting to find out where she’ll be stationed, so she can start making an impact in making people feel safe.

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking,” she said. “They have an envelope that they give us that tells us where to show up, so still patiently waiting.”

Those new recruits will find out right after graduation where they’re headed, and it’ll be all over the county.

Horry County Fire Rescue has another large class, although not record-breaking, coming down the pipe soon.

Another 50 or so firefighters are training right now and should join Currier and Rockenstyre soon.

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