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Rincon Fire Department embracing changes in 2022
Lou Reed
Lou Reed, the Rincon Fire Department’s interim chief, poses with his department’s first female firefighter, Mija Johnson. - photo by Photo by Rick Lott

 RINCON — Lou Reed is no stranger to the Rincon Fire Department and his stepping into the shoes of his predecessor, Corey Rahn, is like another day at the office.

Rahn retired Dec. 15, 2021, and Reed was appointed interim chief the next day.

Reed started with the Rincon Fire Department on Nov. 11, 2011, and was one of the first three 24-hour firemen that were hired. The department had daytime firemen on staff until then when it transitioned to daytime plus 24-hour (shifts).

When asked what the biggest challenge is for the department, Reed replied, “The biggest thing is the growth and expansion that we have right now. We are exploding with growth.” 

In 2000, Rincon’s population was 4,376. It expanded to 8,836 in 2010, nearly a 50 percent increase.

Rincon’s current population is 9,934 and continued growth is anticipated.

Reed said that growth is creating changes for all first responders in the city. He said, on average, they get 200 more calls each year than the previous one. Growth has led to three additional firefighter slots that are currently in the hiring process.

The department has nine full-time staffers and about 12 volunteers. He said the crop of volunteers is excellent but that it is difficult to recruit new members. 

Reed urged anyone that has an interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter to come and check out the department, which began service in 1954.

Reed said that the department has come a long way since its origin. It now has the resources to maintain a class 3 ISO rating, which benefits homeowners with insurance premiums.

Currently, there are only 1970 Class 3 departments out of almost 29,000 departments in the entire United States. A Class 3 status is only attained by having adequate staffing, equipment, communication, training and fire stations.

Rincon has four fire stations right and has been covering 80 square miles in a contract with Effingham County. The Rincon Fire Department covers 40 percent of Effingham County’s population.

That contract with the county ends in July 2023, bringing the Rincon Fire Department’s coverage back to just covering the city limits — about nine square miles. 

Modifications are being made to Station No. 1 to comply with new cancer protections. The hiring of its first female firefighter, Miya Johnson, also necessitated changes.

 Reed said money has been set aside for that purpose in the new department budget.

The Rincon Fire Department recently obtained a new truck, a Class A pumper that carries 1,750 gallons of water and all the newest rescue technology. A new thermal imaging device is part of the new rescue gear. This will allow crews to find people in heavy smoke and fire situations.

A new E-draulics Jaws of Life is part of the new equipment, meaning Rincon firefighters won’t have to be tethered to the truck for rescues because they device is battery powered. 

The new truck replaces one that was more than 20 years old and no longer certifiable. New trucks take 10-11 months to receive due to demand across the country. The new vehicle is currently being prepped for use in the city.

Reed medical calls led the volume of 2021 service requests. They accounted for 1,925 out of 2,888 calls, or 66.6 percent. Other calls were for wrecks, structure fires and service calls.

On a lighter note, three special incident calls were for rescuing cats from trees.