RINCON — The Rincon Fire Department responds to much more than burning buildings and vehicles, and it takes a lot of trained people to take on its many missions.
The department includes about 35 people, including 12 paid personnel and a volunteer chief and assistant chief. It currently has three open positions but hiring is frozen for now pending intergovernmental agreement negotiations with Effingham County. Rincon firefighters cover about 90 square miles.
The Rincon Fire Department is having to deal with things a little differently in the age of COVID-19. During most home medical calls, firefighters perform “triage” at the door, deciding who can enter and what the response needs to be.
Chief Corey Rahn, who has been with the department for 34 years, with almost 26 years in charge, said that unless it’s a life-or-death situation, firefighters ask patients to come outside for treatment.
In the case of extreme emergencies, they suit up and one first responder goes in with an EMS person.
Rahn said firefighters must wear personal protection equipment.
“Gloves are standard but now we’re using masks and face shields and gowns. It’s a different norm.,” Rahn said.
The Rincon Fire Department includes two manned stations and two volunteer stations. He said the number of volunteers is lower than normal and he is hopeful more people will apply.
“About 75 percent of our business is medical calls,” Rahn said. “We assist Effingham County EMS a lot with medical calls from stumped toes to stomach aches to heart attacks and strokes.”
Rahn said the department also responds to all auto accidents with injuries, fuel spills, structure fires and commercial warehouse fires. It also does a fair amount of search-and-rescue work, much of which involves missing children and the elderly
The chief added that the department averages about three water calls annually. Last year, the department assisted law enforcement with a jumper off a bridge.
More recently, it responded to a call to assist a kayaker who turned over in Ebenezer Creek.
It received another call about a hunter who shot himself while retreating from a charging wild hog in the Savannah River swamps behind Georgia-Pacific. The chief said that the Coast Guard had to fly the hunter out in that situation.
People often wonder why a fire truck responds to vehicle accidents when there is no fire visible. Rahn said that is standard procedure since the trucks carry trained medical personnel who are often the first responders to arrive on the scene.
Station No. 1 is located at 109 W. 17th St. Station No. 1 is in the 300 block of Ebenezer Road. Station No. 3 3 is in the 200 block of Commercial Park at Goshen and Ga. Hwy 21. Station No. 4 is in the 500 block of Blue Jay Road.
They stations are often called on to assist other neighboring areas. Several years ago, they helped out when the Savannah Sugar Refinery caught fire. Their ladder truck went to West Side Savannah to cover the Pooler area and, since all available units from Chatham County were involved with the fire, their ladder truck was the only one in service to that area. Rincon units also helped in hauling water to the scene.
The department is looking to change out two of its fire trucks. Updates have also been made to a rescue truck and two more rescue trucks have been put into service. That gives each fire station its own rescue truck. These are smaller vehicles that can get into backyards and tighter areas, and carry a small water tank to fight brush fires. They also contain ladders and a jaws of life.
The department covers down to the I-95 border to the Savannah River and up to the Ebenezer Creek area where it comes in from the Savannah River and follows the creek down to Hwy 21.
The coverage area extends all the way down until it crosses McCall Road onto Little McCall Road, and then covers up to Blue Jay Road and to Hodgeville Road, then to Goshen Road and up to the first set of railroad tracks out to the county line.
The City of Rincon is scheduled to go into negotiations with the Effingham County Board Commissioners about the department’s territory after COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.