TEGA CAY -- Today is moving day for the Tega Cay Rescue Squad. Just don't ask where.
"We have not found a home yet," said rescue squad director Jim Robertson. "We've been asked to be out by mid-March."
Robertson said Monday he planned to park the squad ambulance at the Fort Mill station, a mutual aid partner of the department, beginning today. From there the squad will have to find or build a new station, Robertson said. The rescue squad has headquartered its gear and an ambulance for 33 years at Tega Cay's fire station. Recently, though, the squad was told to find a new home March 15, Robertson said.
"The fire department is expanding its equipment, mainly fire trucks, to their rooster," he said. "We take up one bay and they need that space to put their fire trucks inside."
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The fire department's trucks must be stored inside the fire station in order for the department to obtain and maintain an ISO rating of three. Right now, the department's ISO rating is four, Tega Cay Fire Chief Scott Szymanski said.
ISO is the insurance board that rates fire departments on personnel and equipment as well as water supply and communications. A three rating could mean reduced fire insurance premiums for Tega Cay property owners, he said.
"We have an ambulance taking up one bay at the fire station," Robertson said.
And that's how it's been since 1975, he said.
"When we get a call, we leave home, run to the fire station, get the ambulance and run to the call," Robertson said about the squad that dwindled in members and subsequently joined forces with the Fort Mill Rescue Squad.
And Tega Cay's Szymanski has reservations about that merger.
"They're not 'Tega Cay Rescue Squad' anymore," he said. "They merged with Fort Mill. We have people in our building we don't know."
The fire department board gave Robertson a notice that gave the squad 60 to 90 days to move, Szymanski said.
Still, Szymanski said, the squad's move-out date is not definite.
"I told Jim that if he needed extra time to let me know," Szymanski said. "I'm willing to work with him, but obviously they need to vacate as soon as possible."
Until today, the squad used a bay, storage room and upstairs office at the Tega Cay Fire Department.
"We'd like to find a two-bay garage with living and office quarters," Robertson said. The best case scenario would be to park both our ambulance and rescue truck inside."
There is no short or long term panacea for the rescue squad.
And the clock is ticking.
"We 'd love to pull our ambulance out of the Tega Cay Fire Department and into its new home, but to date we've not found that home," Robertson said.
Not finding a new home isn't an option.
"If we don't find a new home, the ambulance will be sitting outside in the elements," he said. "Ambulances have all sorts of things on them that can freeze. There is delicate lifesaving equipment that could be damaged by cold or heat and humidity."
So leaving the ambulance and its gear, valued at $180,000, parked outside isn't an option.
"We have to find someplace to put it," Robertson said. "We just recently upgraded the equipment on the ambulance to include some lifesaving gear."
To that end, the squad is turning to the community for help with lodging its vehicles and associated gear. The group is open to a donated site or options to lease or purchase, he said.
"By providing the rescue squad a home for its vehicles, you would not only be saving the rescue squad, you will also be helping to save the lives of people in the community who can and will be served by Tega Cay Rescue Squad."
If you have a tip on a small piece of land or a building that could be donated, leased or purchased, call Jim Robertson at 803-984-1526 or 704-604-0073.
-- Lake Wylie Pilot reporter John Marks contributed to this report.