Colleton County Fire-Rescue

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Table of Contents

  1. How do I call for assistance from Colleton County Fire-Rescue?

  2. Why does a fire truck respond first when I call for an ambulance or medical problem?

  3. Why doesn't the Fire-Rescue ambulance take me home from the hospital or transport me for a doctor's office visit?

  4. What is the difference between the volunteer and full-time/career firefighter?

  5. I just moved to the area and would like to become a volunteer firefighter.  How do I proceed?

  6. I moved to Colleton County from another state.  I was a certified EMT or Paramedic in my last place of residence.  How can I change my certification to a South Carolina Certification?

  7. How do I obtain a Burn Permit?

  8. Will the Fire Department fill my swimming pool?

  9. I have an old building on my property; will the Fire Department burn it down for me?

  10. How do I apply for a position with Fire-Rescue? 

  11. My ambulance bill has an Orangeburg mailing address on it. Why is it mailed to Orangeburg?

  12. When I called 9-1-1 and requested an ambulance, the dispatcher asked a lot of questions. Why do they take so much time asking questions?

  13. Does the Fire Department unlock cars? 

  14. Will a Fire-Rescue Ambulance transport me to a hospital outside of Colleton County ?

  15. I understand that if I call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, I will be seen faster at the hospital than if I check in at the hospital front door.

  16. How do I get a Fire-Rescue Representative to speak to my civic or community group?

  17. Does Fire-Rescue teach CPR Classes?

  18. I understand the ISO Classification for Colleton County is a four (4) rating.

  19. Does the Fire-Rescue Department recognize firefighter training that I received somewhere other than Colleton County or the State of SC?

  20. Does Colleton County charge for its services?

  21. After an emergency, how can I obtain a fire or medical report?


How do I call for assistance from Colleton County Fire-Rescue?

Simply call “9-1-1” and give your location or address to the call taker. Remain as calm as possible and speak clearly. Be prepared to give as much information as you can about the nature of the emergency. The call taker will ask many questions. While you are speaking with the call taker, a trained dispatcher is sending help from the closest available emergency units.  Click here for more information about 911.

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Why does a fire truck respond first when I call for an ambulance or medical problem?

The fire engine or volunteer firefighter many times arrives ahead of the ambulance. Colleton County Fire-Rescue operates six Paramedic staffed ambulances. These Medic Units are placed throughout this large county in an effort to reduce the response time to the citizens. Fire-Rescue operates 30 fire stations, also strategically placed throughout the County. All full-time employees are cross-trained as firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (Basic level, Intermediate level or Paramedic) In addition, volunteer firefighters, many of whom are also cross-trained, live in every community and are alerted by radio when a life-threatening emergency is in their area. Many times a fire station is located closer to the medical emergency than one of the ambulances. On a predetermined list of potentially life-threatening medical emergencies, the dispatchers automatically alert the closest fire station to respond. In this way the medically trained firefighters can begin providing care to the sick or injured person prior to the arrival of the ambulance. The primary goal is to begin life saving treatment. All Colleton County fire engines carry medical equipment, including oxygen and AEDs.

In some areas of the County, a Paramedic staffs a fire engine. In addition to the firefighting equipment carried on the fire engine, advanced life saving medical equipment and medications are also stored on the apparatus. These “Paramedic Engines” provide life saving personnel and equipment quickly in remote areas of the County.  

In some cases additional personnel are required to effectively manage the medical emergency. The ambulances are only staffed with two cross-trained personnel. Additional firefighters fill this important role to assist when extra hands are required to save a life or carefully move a patient.

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Why doesn't the Fire-Rescue ambulance take me home from the hospital or transport me for a doctor's office visit?

Fire-Rescue’s ambulances are operated to provide emergency, life saving personnel and equipment to the scene of a medical emergency. While the Medic Units have transport capabilities, the agency is not an ambulance service. With only six Paramedic staffed Medic Units in the County, it is not possible to provide non-emergency transport services. Several private ambulances companies are located in Colleton County and provide non-emergency services such a take home transports and doctor’s office visits.

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What is the difference between the volunteer and full-time/career firefighter?

 There is basically no difference. The volunteer personnel are a very dedicated group of individuals who make some hefty sacrifices to provide emergency services for this community. The volunteer firefighters make up 2/3 of the staff members of Colleton County Fire-Rescue. They attend the same training as career members and respond to emergencies from their homes rather then being assigned to a station for a set period of time. In high volume areas, one career firefighter is on duty to respond the fire engine to the call. All of the Medic Units (ambulances) are staffed with firefighters who also respond to emergencies.

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I just moved to the area and would like to become a volunteer firefighter.  How do I proceed?

Contact the administrative offices at (843) 539-1960. A short application is necessary and the State of South Carolina requires a background check on all firefighters. This process takes about two weeks. Once this is completed, the individual is assigned to a station and can begin training.

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I moved to Colleton County from another state.  I was a certified EMT or Paramedic in my last place of residence.  How can I change my certification to a South Carolina Certification?

Follow the link http://www.scems.com/edassn/forms/reciprocity.pdf for the official document from our state-regulating agency, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

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How do I obtain a Burn Permit?

For a Burn Permit, contact the SC Forestry Commission at 1-800-986-3599. The Forestry Commission regulates out door burning in the unincorporated areas. If you plan to burn a debris pile or yard debris, contact the Forestry Commission at the above number. If you plan to burn on sequential days, you will need to call each day, as conditions change daily. If you live within the municipal limits of Walterboro or Edisto Beach , you will need to contact the appropriate fire department. Some municipalities have specific Ordinances regarding outdoor burning. City of Walterboro Fire Dept 843-549-5731 / Town of Edisto Beach Fire Department 843-869-2505

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Will the Fire Department fill my swimming pool?

Unfortunately, Fire-Rescue is not able to remove fire apparatus from service to fill swimming pools. There are many reasons, which prevent the use of Fire Apparatus for this purpose.

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I have an old building on my property; will the Fire Department burn it down for me?

This used to be an endeavor used by the Fire Department to practice skills and assist homeowners in removing deteriorating structures. Due to the passage of the Clean Air Act, this is a practice, which is no longer conducted by the fire department. SC DHEC regulates the Clean Air Act. Homeowners who wish to have a structure burned, should contact a DHEC representative at 843-846-1030. After the removal of certain materials, the building can be rendered safe for burning. However it is usually less expensive to demolish the building by other means.

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How do I apply for a position with Fire-Rescue?

Full or Part-time Positions: Colleton County is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All applications for qualified candidates are processed through the SC Job Securities Commission (Job Service). You may apply at any Job Securities Office. The Walterboro Office is located at 101 Mable T. Willis Blvd. , Walterboro , SC 29488 (843)-538-8980 or on the web www.scjoblink.org enter your search and search Colleton County .

Volunteer Firefighter Positions: Fire-Rescue is always seeking ambitious individuals who wish to serve their community as volunteer firefighters. Eighty percent of the firefighters in Colleton County are volunteers. Training for volunteers (with a few exceptions) are free to the volunteer. Interested individuals may contact Fire-Rescue Headquarters located at 113 Mable T. Willis Blvd , Walterboro , SC 29488 (843) 539-1960. A short application is needed and all applicants are subject to a criminal background check as required by SC Law.

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My ambulance bill has an Orangeburg mailing address on it. Why is it mailed to Orangeburg?

Colleton County contracts with a third party billing agency to handle all ambulance bills. Due to constant changes in insurance and Medicare regulations and the additional staff required to process the invoices, the County Council decided to contract this service out. Ultimately, collections were increased and two positions were eliminated, saving the taxpayers money. All bills are mailed directly to a lock box at the County’s banking institution, which has its main office in Orangeburg , South Carolina . In this way, funds are not handled directly by staff members or the billing agency. 
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When I called 9-1-1 and requested an ambulance, the dispatcher asked a lot of questions. Why do they take so much time asking questions? 

All 9-1-1 calls are handled by the Sheriff’s Office. Caller takers answer 9-1-1- calls and are supposed to immediately process the calls to the radio operator for notification of the closest emergency response unit(s). Generally, a radio operator is dispatching the ambulance, while the call taker is still gathering important information from the caller. This information aids responding units before they reach the scene. Additionally, many dispatchers are trained to assist callers with vital life saving information and talk them through an emergency until help arrives.

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Does the Fire Department unlock cars? 

Fire-Rescue carries equipment to break into automobiles for a variety of reasons. Primarily the tools are used for emergency purposes, such as a child or animal accidentally locked in a vehicle. A locksmith or other automotive service agency generally handles non-emergency lockouts. 9-1-1 should not be called for non-emergency lockouts.

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Will a Fire-Rescue Ambulance transport me to a hospital outside of Colleton County ?

With the limited number of County operated emergency ambulances, it is not possible to routinely transport patients outside of Colleton County . Fire-Rescue operates emergency ambulances which when used properly by the citizens, should be called only when a medical emergency exists. Emergencies are transported to the closest appropriate medical facility (hospital). Colleton County has a single hospital, so the majority of the patients transported by a Fire-Rescue ambulance are transported to Colleton Medical Center in Walterboro.

 At times, medical conditions dictate transportation to a medical facility outside of Colleton County . Severe trauma patients are generally transported to a Regional Trauma Center . Fire-Rescue typically utilizes one of several air medical (helicopter) services for this purpose. On the rare occasion when a medical helicopter is not available and the patient’s severe injury and medical condition dictates the need for a Trauma Center , a Fire-Rescue ambulance may under certain conditions transport the patient directly to the Trauma Center outside of the County.

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I understand that if I call 9-1-1 for an ambulance, I will be seen faster at the hospital than if I check in at the hospital front door.

Fire-Rescue ambulances should be used for emergency conditions only. When the ambulances and the 9-1-1 system are abused by persons who are not experiencing a medical emergency, then the ambulance and its trained Paramedics are not available for persons who really need them. All patient transports are communicated to the hospital staff either by radio or over the telephone. If an emergency condition does not exist, transport by ambulance may not be provided. In many cases, patients are transported to the Emergency Department, evaluated by an on-duty nurse and then directed to the lobby until they can be treated.

Many people mis-use the Emergency Department at the Hospital. This specialized care unit is in place to handle medical emergencies. Emergency cases are seen first depending on the severity of the medical condition. The Emergency Department is not a clinic. Routine medical problems should be seen by a person’s regular physician. Fire-Rescue ambulances should never be used as a taxi just to reach the hospital for a non-emergency condition, direct admission or other non-emergency use.

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How do I get a Fire-Rescue Representative to speak to my civic or community group?

Demonstrations of Fire-Rescue equipment, displays of equipment or discussions may be arranged by calling Fire-Rescue Headquarters at (843) 539-1960.

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Does Fire-Rescue teach CPR Classes?

Fire-Rescue conducts basic public CPR classes to the general public free of charge. These classes are held by request. For class dates and content, contact one of our Training Officers at (843) 538-6849 or call Fire-Rescue Headquarters.

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I understand the ISO Classification for Colleton County is a four (4) rating.

Colleton County Fire-Rescue maintains an ISO Class 4 rating. This classification applies to the Colleton County Fire District and includes areas located within five road miles of a Colleton County Fire Station. Structures located outside of the five-mile limit remain a Class ten (10). The District was re-rated by ISO in August 2004. The new unified, countywide ISO rating of four (4) was issued 03-June-2005, which became effective 1-October-2005. The Bennetts Point community was included in the countywide rating effective 01-August-2008 due to improvements in fire protection in that community.  

The County Fire District includes the Towns of Cottageville, Lodge, Smoaks and Williams. The municipalities of Walterboro and Edisto Beach maintain separate fire departments with unique ISO classifications.  

The Class four (4) rating does not apply to the unincorporated areas of Edisto Island , located in Colleton County . Fire Protection in these areas is handled through a contract with the Town of Edisto Beach. The ISO rating in this area is presently a Class nine (9).

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Does the Fire-Rescue Department recognize firefighter training that I received somewhere other than Colleton County or the State of SC ?

Colleton County accepts ProBoard or IFSAC Certificates. For additional information contact the Colleton County Training Center at (843) 538-6849.

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Does Colleton County charge for its services?

In some instances charges do exist for some services. The department may seek reimbursement for certain “covered” incident response costs, up to the policy provision limit. Charges do exist for some Hazardous Material Responses, Medical Responses and/or Transports via an ambulance.

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After an emergency, how can I obtain a fire or medical report?

You can obtain a fire report at no charge from our Administrative Offices located on Mable T. Willis Blvd in Walterboro. Medical reports are also available, however you should call (843) 538-6151 to inquire about HIPPA regulation on Medical Reports.

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