We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community. As far as a hiccup, I can’t think of the first one.Chief Clint Hodges, Effiingham County Fire & Rescue
SPRINGFIELD — The 2019 absorption of responsibilities in Guyton hasn’t caused any heartburn for Effingham County Fire & Rescue.
“Operationally, it’s a handful more calls each month,” Effingham County Fire & Rescue Chief Clint Hodges said.
Effingham County Fire & Rescue took over Guyton’s fire protection services last fall following the collapse of the Guyton Fire Department, which was plagued by a shortage of personnel. It had one paid firefighter and a handful of dependable volunteers, prompting it to strike a deal with Effingham County.
The transition was made seamlessly. It didn’t cost Guyton residents a cent more. The lone difference is that their fire fee is sent to Effingham County.
“Everything has gone as smooth as it really can,” Hodges said. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the community. As far as a hiccup, I can’t think of the first one.”
Hodges said his department handles an average of about 25 calls per month within Guyton’s city limits.
In addition, Effingham County Fire & Rescue has enhanced safety by helping students negotiate traffic in front of Guyton Elementary School.
“We’ve tried to take a really active approach in being out in the public and making sure there is good visibility,” Hodges said. “It’s not just a county station. It’s still a community station.
“We try to look at every one of our (34) stations that way and we are trying to maintain the history of where it came from.”
The Guyton station is manned 24 hours a day by two firefighters who are currently housed at the former Guyton Fire Department. A new station, however, is set to be built near the roundabout in town which connects Ga. Hwys 17 and 119.
“The new station is out for proposal right now,” Hodges said. “We are working our way through that process but the land has been acquired. (The project) is out for bid at the moment.”
Hodges couldn’t be happier with the site of the new department.
“It’s just the optimum location,” he said. “You can go north, south, east and west.”
Hodges has been working to bolster the his growing department, which has 44 full-time employees, with volunteers.
“We always need volunteers,” he said. “We are going to be setting up events to try to bring back former (Guyton) volunteers and get some new ones.”
Hodges said it costs volunteers nothing other than their time to become a certified firefighter. The county pays for their equipment and 120 hours of basic training. Additional training is also available.
Potential volunteers are encouraged to visit an Effingham County Fire & Rescue station any Tuesday at 7 p.m. That is the starting time for weekly two-hour training sessions.