Clearwater Fire Department under fire

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 13, 2007

CLEARWATER, S.C.---The Clearwater Fire Department is under fire today after a heated meeting Tuesday night (July 10).

14 of the district's 16 firefighters walked out on the job, including the chief himself.

The fire seems to just be getting started as tensions continue to grow and allegations are being thrown about like wildfire.

Meanwhile, a fire department sits in wait. Right now Clearwater Fire Department is not answering its own emergency calls.

The Chief, Les Hembelten, says it's a problem with Clearwater's Special Water District commissioner Terry Overstreet and his micromanaging.

Commissioner Overstreet spoke with News 12 off camera and he says it's an internal problem with management, refusing to comment further on the issue.

However, we do know part of the problem is over money and how to spend it.

As for a new chief, Overstreet says a new one will be in place within the next 24 hours after an emergency meeting last night by all three district commissioners.

In the meantime, 3 calls have gone out since Tuesday's exodus leaving Bath and Belvedere to handle the workload.

"I hope it doesn't happen to any department. It doesn't do the department any good or the people in the area any good to have something like this to worry about." says Bath Fire Chief Sean Johnson.

Commissioner Overstreet says he's personally talked to seven firefighters who are back on the roster and he maintains Clearwater is still an active fire station. But, the county's administrator's office says 20 volunteers are needed in order to properly run the fire department.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by not a menber of clearwater fire dept on Apr 3, 2009 at 07:27 PM
    SO GET OVER IT (it was free)or maybe get your dept to get you one
  • by Anonymous Location: Aiken on Jan 19, 2009 at 07:31 PM
    I would like to know why the county gave the Clearwater Fire Department a vehicle for the Chief to drive? If they are going to do that for one department shouldn't they do it for all of them? It would be one thing for them to use it for emergency calls only, but the Chief is always seen out running personal errands in it. Who's paying for the gas the community? How fair is that?
  • by Anonymous Location: Clearwater on Jan 19, 2009 at 07:27 PM
    Someone should look into the Fire Department in Clearwater. They are charging their business owners fire fee's almost 4 times the amount as any other district in the area. Not to mention they have underage kids responding to emergency calls on the engines impersonating firefighters. I wish someone would do something before they hurt themselves or worse off people they are responding to.
  • by Anonymous Location: Somewhere in SC on Oct 28, 2007 at 06:28 PM
    I dont think that anyone is mad at Chris for becoming chief of Clearwater. What they are mad about is that he tried to put out a dumpster fire with a fire extinguisher wearing no PPE. This young man does not have the experience needed to run a fire department. And to they guy below that said you would trust him with your life, I feel sorry for you.
  • by SC Hot Firefighter Location: Langley, SC on Sep 11, 2007 at 11:03 AM
    Here we go again...Clearwater Fire Department and their wanna be "firefighters" are about to get Busted!!! You guys keep your eyes and ears open.its coming............
  • by Anonymous Location: somewhere in sc on Aug 7, 2007 at 09:26 AM
    My mistake. I apologize.
  • by fireman 4 life Location: aiken co. on Aug 3, 2007 at 05:45 PM
    that was not for chris that was for the one before him _ _ _ THANK YOU
  • by Anonymous Location: somewhere in sc on Jul 31, 2007 at 04:30 PM
    why don't you look at the bottom of the page and read for yourself.
  • by anonymous Location: Bath on Jul 31, 2007 at 04:15 PM
    No one said that Chris Leopard is from the north. Look at what you are reading and get a clue.
  • by Anonymous Location: somewhere in sc on Jul 31, 2007 at 01:03 PM
    FYI, Chris is from SC, not the north.
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