PICKENS COUNTY – Local fire departments will soon be showcasing a new fire house designed to teach fire safety to children.
The Pickens County Fire Chief’s Association recently acquired a new truck with the help of the county, and they said it was much needed.
“There’s no way you could put together the amount of hours the fire departments of Pickens County have spent, on their own, training these children,” Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack said. “We train the ones in daycare, we train the ones in elementary schools and we’ve trained more than 10,000 people that we can account for in the last few years.”
Womack said the new fire house comes after getting substantial help from the county for the project.
“We had acquired $40,000, and we came to the county,” Womack said. “The county graciously stepped up and helped us. We purchased our new house for $65,000, and hopefully it will last a while.”
The idea for a fire house in Pickens County traces back to the 1990s, according to the chief.
“Years ago, back in the early 90s, we had a vision for a smoke house for the kids of Pickens County,” Womack said. “We actually used a forestry commissioned trailer, gutted it and created seating arrangements and piped it for artificial smoke. We used that for a couple years until we had saved up enough money to buy a 1997 smoke house.”
Womack said the local fire departments conduct golf tournaments each year, allocating the proceeds towards purchasing new equipment.
“The school district was nice enough to step up to help us buy our first smoke house, which was $35,000,” Womack said. “We’ve gone a few years now and that one has gotten old. The technology is just not there anymore.”
The fire house allows children to experience a simulated fire, with firefighters instructing what to do in a dangerous scenario.
“These kids are the reason we need this,” Womack said. “If we can save just one child, that’s all we want to get out of this. We just want one child to understand what goes on in these dangerous situations. This is going to really be used in the county.”