DARLINGTON — Darlington County Council members approved more than $2 million worth of improvements to the county’s emergency services capabilities during the council’s regular meeting Monday.
The council approved the purchase of three new fire trucks for the Darlington County Fire District at a cost of almost $1.3 million. The purchase will include two new pumper tankers and a rescue vehicle.
The purchase will replace two 1988 tankers and move a 1997 service vehicle to a slower station. All three units are currently front line apparatus, which means they respond on a regular basis to emergency incidents throughout the county.
Continued operation of the two 1988 tankers poses a safety concern, according to county officials. One problem is a lack of safety devices that are standard in vehicles now but that were not standard when the vehicles were manufactured, including shoulder restraining seat belts and air bags. In addition, the trucks are difficult to maintain and keep in working order because of their age and wear on the vehicles.
One of the new pumper tankers will replace a tanker at Station 11 (Society Hill) and the other a tanker at Station 13 (Dovesville).
The 1997 service truck currently in service is the most heavily used truck in the fire district’s fleet, according to officials. It responds to most motor vehicle accidents with entrapment and all structure fires in the Darlington County Fire District’s service area.
The truck also serves as a special operations vehicle to quickly mitigate different types of incidents. The current vehicle will be moved to Station 12 (Byrdtown) to relieve responses of the new truck and provide a quicker response to certain areas.
The three vehicles are being purchased through a cooperative purchasing contract with funds on hand from a $4.1 million general obligation bond for the fire district approved earlier this year, according to County Administrator Charles Stewart.
The council approved the purchase by a vote of 7 — 0 with one council member, Robert L. Kilgo Jr. of Darlington, unable to attend the meeting.
Acquiring the vehicles will take some time. The new trucks are expected to go into service in about a year, Stewart said.
The council also approved an upgrade to the Central Communications/E911 Department’s radio dispatch console for cost of $822,721.
The current radio dispatch console has been operating on Windows Vista, which is no longer available as of Oct. 31, according to officials. The change will upgrade the dispatch console to a fully-operational and fully-functional more advanced system.
The funds to pay for the upgrade will come from money currently in the county’s emergency telephone system fund balance, Stewart said.
In addition to those purchases, the council approved a non-emergency service upgrade, awarding a contract for the construction of a pre-engineered metal building for a scale house for the county’s Environmental Services Department at a cost of $248,749 with Sun Construction Inc. of Darlington.
The current building is in poor condition with limited storage and work space, according to county officials.
The turnkey project will consist of construction of a pre-engineered 40-foot-by-40-foot metal building, according to officials. The money will come from the environmental services fund.