City officials discussing possibility of new fire station in Beaufort

BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - The discussion continues about a proposal to build a new fire station in Beaufort.

Right now, there are three stations for the Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department, but a possible fourth one could bring along some benefits.

We spoke to the city and the fire department to find out more about how the proposal is shaping up. It comes on the heels of the current service agreement that is set to expire at the end of this year. It would build a new fire station on Highway 170 to serve Castle Rock residents.

In 2009, the City of Beaufort and Town of Port Royal Fire Department was evaluated by the Center for Public Safety Management, and they identified the fact that the city and town should provide service in the area.

"It's a centerpiece between three existing fire stations the Burton Fire District has, and while we don't know what the exact service boundaries will be, there are some rooftops that are city rooftops, town rooftops, and county rooftops," said Chief Reece Bertholf, Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Department.

Currently, the city and town pay the Burton Fire District to cover the area, but recent growth is prompting the change.

"It would be more efficient, save money, provide better service, more coverage for the people who live in the city, so we're exploring building a fire station," said Mayor Billy Keyserling, City of Beaufort.

A property owner approached city managers, volunteering to build the station on his land and let the municipalities lease it.

"That is an option that does not tie up our bond ratings, our bond limits, which are legislative. The cash flow from operations would cover it, so it's something both Beaufort and Port Royal are looking to do," said Mayor Keyserling.

No matter how the new fire station comes about, the idea of having one brings along several benefits.

"Decreased response time for those closest to the fire station, a higher probability for that currently existing assets, such as the fire truck at this station or the one in Port Royal or the one in Burton Fire District, would be more ready to respond more times," said Chief Bertholf.

Both councils have a few weeks left before a concrete decision has to be made, but both the city and the fire department say mutual aid will continue for residents in Castle Rock.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.