Williston in need of volunteer firefighters

The need for more firefighters is growing as the Williston Fire Department experiences more calls.

Fire Chief Milton Widener updated Williston Town Council on his department’s activities during the Oct. 9 council meeting.

“The Williston Fire Department has continued to do an outstanding job protecting the property of the citizens of Williston while operating with limited personnel and resources,” said Town Administrator Kenny Cook in a memo to council.

Widener said his department responded to 175 calls between Dec. 1, 2016 and Oct. 8, which is close to the 180 calls they responded to during the same time period the previous year. Calls for the current year include 115 in town and 57 in the county.

The department has responded to 19 structure fires, 71 first responder calls to help EMS, two vehicle fires, 25 brush fires, 21 alarms, 18 wrecks and 11 other cases for gas leaks, downed trees and other situations. They have set up seven landing zones for medical helicopters. They also had one false call made by children.

A majority of the calls occurred during the daytime hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is also when many firefighters are working, which has caused a shortage. “We’re hurting bad during the daytime,” said Widener.

No new members have joined the department in the last year, but they currently have three applications on hand for review.

They have 30 members with only four not certified. Eight members have been trained as first responders while everyone has CPR/First Aid/AED certification. Medshore Ambulance Service provided first responder training at no cost.

Widener is working with Norman Duncan on plans for a building to house “Old Glory”, the town’s first motorized 1936 Chevrolet fire truck that has been restored.

“Old Glory is the town’s most valuable piece of history and needs to be on display for all who live in, travels and visits our great town,” said Widener, who is working to attain funds to make that a reality.

In addition to visiting schools in October for Fire Prevention Month, the department kicked off its second annual turkey shoot on Friday, Oct. 13. It runs on Fridays and Saturdays through Saturday, Dec. 2.

Widener’s presentation followed recognition of three police officers.

Officer Connie Johnson was recognized for completing the S.C. Police Academy on Sept. 1. She is now a fully certified law enforcement officer and is back on duty in her hometown.

“She brings a wealth of information,” said Chief Rodney Pruitt of Johnson.

Joshua Hearn and Michael Jones were then sworn in as the town’s newest officers.

In other news:

• Trick-or-treat hours were announced as being from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 31.

• Mayor Jason Stapleton reminded council and the public of the election on Nov. 7 as well as the town’s Christmas tree lighting on Dec. 2 and Christmas parade on Dec. 3.

• Council entered into closed session for a litigation update involving the Barnwell County Economic Development Corporation. No action was taken when they returned to open session.