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Dorchester County spends $3.5M on fire stations opening this year, more to come

Architectural image of Ladson Fire and EMS Station

An architectural rendering of the Ladson Fire and EMS Station. The station will open sometime around April or May, according to Dorchester County Fire Chief Tres Atkinson. Provided

SUMMERVILLE — Dorchester County is spending millions to improve its firefighting infrastructure, which includes opening two fire stations this year.

The Ladson Fire and EMS Station on Ladson Road is being rebuilt after the old building was demolished in March 2022. County Fire Chief Tres Atkinson said the old Ladson Fire and EMS Station’s entrance didn’t face the road, but the new one will.

The $3.3 million project will be able to hold up to 12 employees, including EMS, nine vehicles and other various equipment. It will house an engine company and an ambulance crew.

Mario Formisano, county deputy administrator for public safety, said the old Ladson station was constructed in the 1970s and had several additions over the years to compensate for the fire department at the time. The station is located near the rapidly growing Ladson and Oakbrook areas.

"A combination of its age and practicality — the way the station was laid out — necessitated that we make some improvements there," Formisano said.

Atkinson said they’ll move into the Ladson station around April or May.

He added the county just finished working on a volunteer fire station on Sandridge Road, near St. George. Formisano said the fire station is new and will be offering a level of service in the area that didn't exist before. 

Atkinson said the Sandridge station cost a little under $300,000 to build, and should cut the insurance premiums of locals by half. Volunteers can start occupying the station in a couple of weeks.

The fire department is also in the early stages of designing and replacing the Jedburg fire station on Highway 78, Atkinson said. While nothing is certain yet, he said the station will be relocated to be around the Orangeburg Road-Highway 78 intersection and estimates it to cost around $3.3 million, like the Ladson Fire and EMS Station. 

He said it’s an inherited station that’s served its purpose for over 20 years and needs to be relocated because it’s small, patched up and in a low-lying area. 

“We’re just now completing repairs from the last hurricane where it flooded, so it just needs to move and be in a better place,” Atkinson said.

There’s also plans for an eventual station in the Summers Corner area, which is also growing rapidly, according to Formisano. The fire department already has the funds and the plans and is finalizing details with the developer and the land.

Atkinson said there’s multiple reasons for the upgrades to fire infrastructure and the building of new stations. One of the reasons is so they don’t have to make constant repairs like they have been, and the other is to increase the firefighters’ standard of living.

“Because personnel spend a third of their life in a station, it’s essentially part of their home,” Atkinson said. “(The rebuilds and improvements) make the employee happier and better prepared to respond.”

Reach Maddy Quon at Follow her on Twitter @MaddyQuon. 

Maddy Quon covers the Berkeley and Dorchester counties for The Post and Courier. Most recently from Tokyo, Japan, Maddy graduated from the University of Mississippi where she studied journalism.

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