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New firefighters, station coming to Bethel

LAKE WYLIE New staff and a new firehouse await a growing Bethel Volunteer Fire Department.

Chief Michael Laws said the department that hovered for years at about 50 members is now up to 66. Four paid firefighters were added to the department after voters approved a special fire tax district in 2009. Soon, the number of paid staff will increase.

“We’ll be hiring four part-time firefighters here in the next few weeks,” Laws said last week.

The positions are open to anyone. Laws said many of his volunteers aren’t interested in becoming paid staff because they won’t be allowed to volunteer with the department, too. The part-timers will supplement at hours when current paid staffers aren’t at the station.

The new positions aren’t the only changes coming. The York County Council earlier this year approved the use of fire-tax money to build a $2 million station at the site of the current Station No. 1. The new 1,400-square-foot station will have room for five trucks. Laws said they hope to have the construction completed by the end of May, and a groundbreaking is being planned.

“We wanted to start this past spring,” Laws said. “There were delays.”

Construction equipment is on the ground now. Votes to secure funding, getting permits for construction and even the recent county manager change held up the process, the fire chief said.

Laws hopes the new station and growing volunteer rolls will allow his department to keep pace with Lake Wylie’s residential and commercial growth.

“Lake Wylie is still growing,” he said.

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