Rural firefighting presents issues in Aiken County

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW)—Fighting fires in rural areas can sometimes prove to be a challenge. But volunteer fire departments around Aiken County say they’re prepared to handle those difficulties.

On Monday, a brush fire on Old Camp Log Road near exit 22 on I-20 raised some of the issues that firefighters face in rural areas.

“We started seeing smoke,” recalled Tina Spires, “that’s when we walked over there and found out there's a brush fire.”

Volunteer firefighters from Couchton and Monmorenci both responded to the fire, with the Forestry Department chipping in as well. But the challenge wasn’t man power, it was water. That area of the county does not have county maintained water lines that run to it; instead well water is used. And that means, no fire hydrants.

“When we was out there, we was looking wondering where they were going to get water from,” said Spires.

Instead of hydrants, fire departments have to use tanker trucks to bring water in from the nearest hydrant. In the case of the fire Monday, the next close fire hydrant was over two miles away.

County leaders tell News 12 around 30% of the county is still on well water. They say they base their decisions on water lines on areas that are already developed, or will be in the near future.