Greenville Co. fire station near collapse - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville Co. fire station near collapse

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The building that formerly housed River Falls' fire trucks has been condemned. (July 27, 2012/FOX Carolina) The building that formerly housed River Falls' fire trucks has been condemned. (July 27, 2012/FOX Carolina)
MARIETTA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A Greenville County fire station is about to fall apart. Friday night, the River Falls community came together to hear how they can, and will, be helping to rebuild.

The fire department is made up of all volunteers, and they serve one of the most spread out areas in the county.

Fire Chief David Embry said when they converted an old church into their station in 1995, it checked out just fine with the building inspector. He said this wasn't anything they could've known would happen, but now, they're expecting a hefty bill.

The contractor told Embry he needed to remove everything from the building, "because this is going to collapse."

It was about two months ago that the fire department first found out the cracks in the ceiling of their fire station were from major structural damage. Embry said the trusses had fallen apart, the roof dropped, and the walls pushed out.

Embry said the next day, their four fire trucks were moved to the yards and driveways of River Falls' volunteers. The chief was most worried about what they would do once it gets cold in a few months.

"The trucks can't stay outside in the cold weather, they freeze up, they've got plumbing just like our houses. And if a fire truck freezes up it's no good. You can't use it, you can't get water out of it, which means you can't fight fire, which means we're completely failing at what we're supposed to do," said Embry.

The Parker Fire District in Greenville will help by loaning the River Falls department a massive tent for their trucks, for the next two years. They had it when their station was being rebuilt. It'll have a furnace in the heat, and lights inside.

After finding the structural damage, contractors discovered termite damage, wood rot and asbestos throughout the building. Embry said removal of the asbestos is very expensive. That needs to be done before the building can be torn down, which needs to happen before a new building is constructed.

That will likely need hundreds of thousands of dollars and that's where the River Falls community comes in.

Dr. Anne Blythe called the fire department the "heartbeat of our community." She is the seventh generation of her family living in the area. She said the is always there whenever she or her neighbors need anything from medical attention, to help getting around in icy weather.

Blythe said she and everyone she knows is willing to step up to help with fundraising efforts, everything from small bake sales, to grant writing, and supporting county council.

Embry says the department is trying every possible avenue. The county council is expected to vote again next month, to help the fire district get a big-time loan. The caveat with a big-time loan is that people who live in the district will likely see higher property taxes to help pay the debt.

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