Upstate fire department hopes grant money will improve safety


LAURENS CO., S.C. (WSPA)- Fire departments across the state have been waiting for grant money after a funding bill, the VSAFE bill, was signed into law, and now the time has come.

Aged and old equipment is a hurdle a lot of volunteer fire departments have to jump over.

“What we got now, we got in 2004,” Fire Chief at the Joanna Volunteer Fire Department, Robert Plaxico says.

“If you go to a fire and something doesn’t work, you’re kind of looking stupid,” added Plaxico.

He says it’s hard to keep up with the departments funded by the state.

“A lot of the volunteer fire departments are less fortunate. The paid ones get more money from taxes and all,” explained Plaxico.

However, recently, relief came to them and over a hundred other volunteer fire departments across the state,

“It makes you feel good to know that there’s money available to help the less fortunate fire departments,” Plaxico said.

Nearly $5.2 million dollars was set aside last year by the state to assist volunteer fire departments in getting new and improved equipment.

Now, after going through the application process, some are finally seeing that money come in.

“We’re just blessed to have it and like the chief said, these grants help fire departments out in ways we just can’t.” Director of the Laurens County fire services, Greg Lindley said.

The Joanna Volunteer Fire Department saying, they spent it as fast as they could, getting new tools, to better protect the people of Laurens County.

“It can make Laurens County safer by allowing the fire departments, the fire fighters to have more reliable equipment, better equipment, up to date equipment that’s not going to break down as much,” Lindley said.

The Joanna Fire Department was one of seven fire departments to get the grant money in Laurens County. A total of 181 fire departments in South Carolina received it this year.

For any fire departments that didn’t receive the grant, the application process restarts next year. Those that did receive it this year they have to wait three years to apply for funding again.

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