On Thursday, Berkeley County Council decided to increase fees to help volunteer firefighter stations.
Berkeley County Council approved a 3-2 vote to double the fire fees. This includes both commercial and residential fees. The proposal suggests staffing two paid firefighters at every station in Berkeley County.
“So our goal is to have 24/7 call. Right now the county has been paying for 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. We have nine current firefighters and we’re getting to hire two more. The goal is 45 so we can have 24/7 all the way across the county,” said council member Elaine Mauck.
The current fire fee for volunteer firefighters is about $2 million. The fee will increase from $35 to $70, which will generate about $4.2 million in revenue.
Chief Martin Roberts at the Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Department says while the fee increases are a step in the right direction, his department is in need of more staff.
“I want to make sure that I can ensure my residents of my fire district that when they call 911, they’re going to get a fire truck show up to their door or to their emergency and that’s my ultimate goal,” said Chief Roberts.
Officials say they are hoping this will encourage more people to join Berkeley County Fire Departments due to recent shortages of volunteer firefighters in previous years.
The fire fee increases in Berkeley County are expected to take place this fiscal year.