RICHBURG, SC (WBTV) - There are well over a dozen industrial plants that are within the Richburg Fire Department's coverage area, and now another is being added to that list.
The 1.7 million square foot Giti Tire plant is just two and a half miles away from the fire department, but this is a plant that's roughly three times larger than any other plant in the department's district.
"How are you going to handle a plant that has 500 to 600 people in it, seven days a week, 24 hours a day?" Chief John Agee asked.
Because of the magnitude and the plant eventually employing nearly 2,000 people, the department had to make upgrades to ensure it could handle an incident there.
In 2014, Chief John Agee and his team of 27 volunteers started preparing. They spent more than two weeks on an incident response plan specific to Giti Tire. It includes which products are used in which area of the plant and details where hydrants can be found.
The response will require assistance from three other Chester County fire departments. Aside from additional manpower, the department needed new equipment.
According to Assistant Fire Chief T Melton, the crew was using a ladder truck from 1978. He says they needed a more reliable engine that could reach to the highest point of the plant, at 100 feet. So with County Council funding, they bought a 2006 engine for $600,000.
"With this we can put two or three people up in the air," Melton said. "It makes a huge difference, more manpower and gets to the high part of the plant we couldn't otherwise."
The department also invested in three more thermal imaging cameras since more crews would be needed to search inside the larger facility. They also purchased what's known as a strong arm - a tool used to relieve someone from being trapped in equipment.
Aside from equipment, they say they wanted to improve their response time. The main fire station is roughly 2.5 miles away, but soon the department will open a second station on the other side of the plant. It is approximately three miles away.