FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - A fire department in the Pee Dee has begun a new program to help better their service to you, and re-focus spending for the department. The goal is to add new firefighters on a stipend, instead of full-time pay.
The program just started at the beginning of this month. It's called the Stipend Firefighter Program, started by West Florence Fire Rescue. The department is trying to bring in new firefighters on a stipend pay to supplement the full time ones already there.
Captain Anthony Fox said they're doing this instead of hiring because two new stipend firefighters is less money than one full-time firefighter for the department. He said the program offers National Fire Prevention Agency members the opportunity to be paid for 12-hour shifts, staying at the station during the shift. He said the trained stipend firefighters must be trained in vehicle extrication and first responder medical care.
"What this program does is it offers the fire department a cost effective way to reduce our staffing, decrease our response times, increase the number of training hours we have, and also offers our members an opportunity to continue to be involved with the fire department that's also helping to increase our effectiveness," Cpt. Fox said.
This year has been the busiest year ever for the department with more than 1,300 calls, so they need all the extra help they can get. More staffing, means a more effective response for residents. West Florence is the smallest district in size, but the largest in population.
Cpt. Fox said being a stipend firefighter has more benefits than simply volunteering.
"To be a true volunteer firefighter, and to be compliant with the NFPA standards, and the South Carolina fire academy standards, it takes a lot of time and a lot of training that a volunteer is not going to be compensated for,' he said.
The department is also receiving a new fire truck in February. If you want to apply, contact the West Florence Fire Department.