Fairfield gets first paid firefighters

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County will now has two paid firefighters. They are stationed in Jenkinsville to help cut down on the 27-minute average response time it previously took the County to respond to fires in the Jenkinsville or Blair area.

“When there was a fire in the Blair, Jenkinsville, and Feasterville area, we left from Winnsboro, went out there, got a truck, then went to the fire,” Fire Director Tony Hill said. “Twenty to twenty-five minutes going to a fire is not good.”

Jamie Gattis and Jay Joyner will now be onsite at the Jenkinsville Fire-station from 5 a.m.-6 p.m. According to Hill 65 percent of all the department’s fire calls come in that 12-hour span, when 95 percent of the volunteer force is out, at their own jobs.

“They’re there from five in the morning to six in the evening and that will cut down response times on that side of the county tremendously,” Hill said.

Gattis and Joyner both come to the job with ample experience in and around public service. Gattis has 10 years experience as a fireman, and his father was a fireman for 25 years. They were introduced at the County Council meeting on Monday evening. Both addressed Council.

“I would like to personally say thank you for the consideration and for the approval of our state positions,” Gattis said. “It’s our intent to continue to service citizens of Fairfield County with respect, pride and everything we have.”

Joyner has been a volunteer fireman for six years, and his father is a retired Fairfield County Sheriff. “I would just like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be one of the first paid fireman in Fairfield County,” Joyner told Council

“They got firefighting in the family,” Hill said proudly.

Councilwoman Bertha Goins was the first to thank Joyner and Gattis for accepting the positions and offered up any assistance they may need.

“To both of you, thank you, welcome aboard. I can’t drive the fire truck but anything else I can do to help, please let me know,” Goins said.

Despite the much needed additions, Hill says the department is in desperate need of more volunteers.

“The Fairfield County Fire service needs probably a hundred volunteer firefighters throughout the whole county,” HIll said. “Basically, these people are firefighters but somebody has to pump the truck, so if they drive a truck they may have to end up pumping it, too. Somebody still’s got to be at the end of the hose to put the fire out, so we got to have volunteers.”

For those wishing to volunteer as a Fairfield County firefighter, contact Hill at 803-712-1070.