WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lexington County has opened up a new emergency service complex headquarters in the eastern part of the county.
The county built the new facility at the industrial park right off Highway 321 and the Saxe Gotha Industrial Park. It will house both EMS Services and a fire department.
David Kerr, the director of emergency services for Lexington county, says they've been on working on the project for last two and a half years.
"It provides emergency services in the areas of fire and emergency medical services to about 17.33 square miles," explained Kerr. "It actually brings about 2,485 properties that will be serviced by this station."
Officials say the total cost of the project was $5 million. Those who work there will be working 24-hour or 12-hour shifts.
According to a press release from the county, "It will house one ladder truck, staffed with one captain, one engineer and two firefighters, and serve as the office for the South Region battalion chief. It will also be the base of operations for two ambulances and EMS region lieutenants."
The county says the new complex will also be able to house more employees and vehicles as the area continues to grow.
Kerr says before the new station was built, six square miles of the area was outside of a fire station. The director believes the addition of the fire station will positively impact insurance ratings for those properties who were previously without a fire station close by.
The new station will be able to also assist in certain parts of I-26 and I-77.
One of the reasons the station was built here according to Kerr is because it's a high-volume call area.
"Through mutual aid works with the City of Cayce and West Columbia, we'll also serve several of our smaller municipalities in first-alarm and second-alarm call outs," said Kerr.
The new complex features new technology and benefits for firefighters and EMS workers. One of those will be a fuel pump to be used by county employees for county work vehicles. There's also new weight room, a shift change room, administrative areas, kitchens, and fans for the bay to keep vehicles cool during the summer.
"One thing that is very important to us in emergency services is the quality of life for our employees. They see a lot of stress out there and they experience a lot of bad calls so having a facility they can come back to and decompress and have the creature comforts of home actually in the work place pays huge dividends for us and really enhances the overall quality of service that we provide to our citizens," said Kerr.
The county also added another ladder truck. The truck also has a chord rail, which allows the trucks to be charged and ready to go whenever they get a call.
Employees will also have their own bunk rooms.
"We continue to try to attract obviously female firefighters so we want to make sure that all of our stations will accommodate both male and female firefighters," said Kerr.
Kerr says the complex will be the new model for fire stations within the county.
"We can scale the design of this facility. We can scale it either up, which this is about the largest size we would build, or we can scale it back to fit it on smaller pieces of property or to service other areas that may not be considered a region headquarters," said the director.
With the new addition of the complex, the director believes it's going to make a difference in the future for the county.
"It's really built for the 21st century and it can accommodate a great deal of growth in our area in the coming years," said Kerr.
Ultimately, the county says they want to make sure they serve the community in the best way they can.
"I think the biggest benefit for the community is having the immediate response here within our industrial area. We have a lot of very large businesses that come to Lexington County for the services we provide," said Kerr. "We've got the state farmer's market. We've got Home Depot. We've got Nephron and Amazon across the street from Saxe Gotha. It's just an opportunity for us to make sure we provide the highest quality of service within this region."