PICKENS - Pickens County Council's Justice and Public Safety Committee on Monday took no action on a request from some 275 residents of the Six Mile Rural Fire District who have requested to be moved to the Central Rural Fire District's coverage area.
Noting that County Council has had the petition, circulated by residents upset that their fire protection would be lowered by the move to Central, which would lower their insurance rates, in hand for 20 months, Committee Chairman Ben Trotter bemoaned the last of progress.
"We just spend an hour and accomplished absolutely nothing," Trotter said as committee member Dr. Jim London made a motion to adjourn. "These people asked us to act on this, and that's what we should do."
However, the meeting was not totally without progress.
County Administrator Chappell Hurst reminded the committee that granting the request of those residents would require a lengthy legal process that starts with getting a map detailing clusters of homeowners who want to be shifted to a different district.
"The first thing you have to do is identify the boundaries," Hurst said. "The petition just says these people want to change districts. What you have to do before you do anything else is decide what's feasible.
"And," he said, "it would take working with both fire departments (Central and Six Mile)," Hurst said, noting that he could provide the committee such a map in about two weeks.
The sometimes rancorous meeting drew members of the Pickens Rural Fire District board of directors, along with residents among those who signed the petitions and representatives from the cities of Pickens and Easley and representatives of The Vineyards Fire Department.
"Your home is your home," said James Rampey, who noted that he is a resident of the area in question, south of Six Mile and was involved in collecting names for the petition. "Central has built its Central II substation, and their fire rating I think is a 5. Six Mile is a 7 in some areas and up to a 9 beyond five miles from the station or beyond 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant."
Representatives of the Six Mile Town Fire Department, notably fire chief Ronnie Duncan, protested that several of the names on the petition were of people who have since denied signing it.
Trotter squelched that line quickly.
"If those names need to investigated, County Council will investigate," he said, "and not the firemen."
Six Mile Rural Fire Board chairman E.P. Stillwell noted that, even though 275 people signed the petition, that could involve as many as 500 to 600 households, since not everybody who would be included in a redrawing of the district lines signed the document.
Estimates provided by Trotter said the Six Mile district could lose up to $16,000 if the request is approved.
The item of fire district lines for all fire districts and the item on the petition remain on the Council committee's agenda for future action pending information from Hurst regarding possible boundaries of the Six Mile District.
County Council as a whole took no action on the matter at its meeting Monday night.