A now fully staffed Lower Richland fire station means faster emergency responses for rural residents south of Columbia.
A $1.3 million grant will allow 11 firefighters to staff Lower Richland Station 22 around the clock for the next two years, according to Columbia-Richland County Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.
The station, located next to Lower Richland High School in Hopkins, currently is staffed by just one career firefighter and one battalion chief.
“Lower Richland is rural and a large area to cover, so having a fast response time is always a concern,” said Richland County Councilman Norman Jackson of District 11, which encompasses a large part of the Lower Richland community. “Eleven firefighters are very welcome here.”
Although the station will have in-house firefighters, Jenkins said, the department will continue to rely on trained volunteers for additional response.
“This area of the county is growing, and with growth comes the need to provide adequate services,” Jenkins said.
The staffing grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As the grant funding nears its expiration in two years, the fire department will evaluate its next steps, Jenkins said.