Ehrhardt, South Carolina (February 2021) – On February 10, 2021, Bamberg County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly constructed Rivers Bridge Fire Substation. In 2018, Bamberg County resident Ted Brandt generously donated property to Bamberg County. The County has worked since that time to secure funding, a low-cost USDA loan with the assistance of U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn and U.S. Senator Tim Scott, and construct the beautiful new facility.
A socially-distanced crowd gathered in the bay of the new fire station to hear remarks from Joey Preston, Bamberg County Administrator, Al Jenkins, Regional Director for Senator Tim Scott, Larry Haynes and Clint Carter, Bamberg County Council members, Chad Dilling, Ehrhardt Police and Fire Chief, and Paul Eubanks, Bamberg County Fire Coordinator. Bamberg County Fire Chaplain Sunny Mooney opened and closed the ceremony with a blessing over the station, those who work within its walls, and those served by it. Councilman Spencer Donaldson led the Pledge of Allegiance.
“This substation will serve as a prototype for future substations and guide the County as we work with the area fire chiefs to modernize and upgrade Bamberg County fire stations to improve working conditions and facilities for our fire fighters and improve services to residents in the most rural parts of the County,” remarked Joey Preston. “Without the donation of land from Mr. Brandt, funding from Enterprise Bank and the USDA, and the collective efforts of county staff, elected officials, and many others, this station would not have been possible.” Preston also stated, “A homeowner with a home valued at $125,000 will save approximately 27% annually on insurance costs; for this resident, it means his family will save $533 a year on their annual insurance premium.”
Fire substations are vital to ensure the public safety for Bamberg County residents located more than five miles from a fire station. “The construction of a fire substation in this part of the county will improve the ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating for the county and the residents in the Rivers Bridge area,” said Paul Eubanks, Bamberg County Fire Coordinator. “The ISO rating will improve to a Class 6; the area is currently rated by the ISO as a Class 10, which essentially means unprotected. This will save residents on their insurance premiums as well as reduce response time in the area. Also, the vast majority of fire fighters in Bamberg County are volunteers. I appreciate that we can support their selfless efforts and donation of time in the service of others by providing modernized, safe equipment and facilities they can take pride in when on duty.”
Ehrhardt’s Police and Fire Chief Chad Dilling expressed his gratitude for having this new facility within his jurisdiction, “This fire station has been a long-time coming and was proposed in a few different areas until Mr. Brandt’s generous donation helped make the decision for us,” said Chief Dilling. “We have been blessed to have volunteers who will work this in this station to serve and protect the local citizens.”
After the final station blessing from Chaplin Sunny Mooney, Ted Brandt, surrounded by the speakers and other guests, cut the ribbon to officially open the Rivers Bridge Fire Station. The County is currently working on plans to build a similar fire substation in the Holmans Bridge area of Denmark, on Charleston-Augusta Highway. A new pumper truck will be purchased in 2021 in accordance with the Bamberg County equipment replacement plan.