The first 24-hour full-time firefighters in Effingham County are on the job in Rincon, Rincon Fire Chief Corey Rahn said.
The city has hired three full-time firefighters to work on 24-hour shifts, with each working for 24 hours and then having 48 hours off.
They will join two full-time firefighters on staff, giving the city five paid firefighters.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Rahn said. “The significance of it is we have a guaranteed response with a 24-hour man there. It helps us drastically on our ISO ratings.”
There were 65 applicants for the positions and six were interviewed.
Having the full-time firefighters is expected to lower the city’s ISO rating, and that in turn will lower homeowner’s insurance bills. The city’s ISO is a 5/9, with a 5 within five miles of the city limits and 1,000 feet of a reliable water source and a 9 outside five miles of the city limits and not within 1,000 feet of a reliable water source, such as a pond or a hydrant.
The Rincon Fire Department is hoping to get an ISO review in late February or early March, and Rahn expects the ISO of 5 to fall.
“We’re looking at a 4, maybe a 3,” he said. “Now that we’ve got paid staff, we’ll get below at 5. If we get a 3, I’ll be ecstatic.”
The city has a roster of 40 volunteers to call upon, and they are needed, even with the new full-time additions, according to Rahn.
“We’re glad we were able to work it out with council to where we could make everybody happy and sticking with a volunteer chief so they don’t lose all their control,” he said. “The one paid guy can only do so much when he’s there by himself.”
The full-time firefighters will be stationed at the fire department’s headquarters, next to the police department on West 17th Street.
The Rincon department also will be constructing a new training building soon, which Rahn is anticipating eagerly.
“I’m glad to have them onboard,” he said of the paid firefighters. “When we get that training building, we’ll be getting better and better.
We couldn’t do it without the support we get from city council.