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Pine Ridge Fire Department

The History of Pine Ridge Fire Rescue

1968-69 - The Beginning 

Pine Ridge Fire Rescue was organized in the summer of 1968, with the appointment of Mr. Chalmus Smith as chief and the purchase of a 1939 LaFrance pumper from the Coosawatchie Fire Department. The fire department was dispatched on a 24 hour system by the owners of the L&M Grocery ( Loraine & Tommy Thompson).

In the summer of 1969, Chief Smith resigned and Mr. Al Bailey was appointed the new chief (1969-1975) Under Chief Bailey’s leadership, the fire department replaced the 1939 LaFrance Pumper with a 1940 LaFrance pumper from Goose Creek City and added a tanker truck ( 1953 Chevy) which was an old fuel truck form Jenkins oil company.


In 1970, a 50′ x 150′ plot of land on Highway 17 A was donated for the use of the fire department by Mr. Gay. A 30’x50′, two bay station was erected and the fire department soon moved into their first fire station. Growth continued under Chief Bailey’s leadership and in 1971, a “new” reconditioned 1963 American LaFrance 500 GPM Pumper was acquired.

In 1975 Chief Bailey resigned and Mr. Thomas Atwell was appointed chief (1975-1977).The year 1976 brought the addition of a 1954 Dodge ( military), which was equipped with a slide-in unit and is used as a brush truck. Also, a 1953 GMC ( military deuce and a half), which was modified to hold 2000 gallons of water and used as a tanker truck.

In 1977, Chief Atwell resigned and Mr. Jim Mixson was appointed the new chief ( 1977-‘1997). Under Chief Mixson’s leadership we had experienced major growth. 1979 saw the addition of a 2000 gallon (military defueler). 1968 Kasier Jeep used as a tanker.In the year 1980, we made our first major equipment purchase with the addition of a 1980 FMC 750 GPM Pumper and much needed firefighting equipment.



At this time we were able get our insurance classificatin rating lowered from 9AA class to class 7. An addition to be built on the rear of the fire station was started in 1982, and the two story 44’x44′ structure was dedicated to Loraine and Tommy Thompson and Mr. Al Bailey for their hard work and dedication to the growth of the fire
department. We now had a kitchen, 3 bunk-rooms (sleeps 12), 3 restrooms ( 2 with showers), a day room with TV and pool table, a training room, and the Chief finally got his own office. 1983 also marked the end of an ERA. We moved our dispatch center out of L&M Grocery and joined Caromi VFD, Goose Creek Rural VFD, and South Berkeley EMS in establishing a central dispatch system for lower Berkeley county, now known as the Emergency Operations Center. In 1984, we purchased from Mr. Gay, the original plot of land, plus an additional 29’x150′, giving us much needed room.

In 1985, the original building, which now housed 6 trucks, was taken down to make room for our new addition, and in the fall of 1985, our fire trucks were backed into our the new building. Equipment added: first responder  truck (Rescue 28), purchased from South Berkeley EMS and converted ; a 1972 Beam 750GPM Pumper was purchased from Goose Creek City Fire Department and dump valves were added to our two tankers for use  with our new 2,100 gallon dump tank.

In 1989 the construction of the New Hope Community Fire Station (our Station 2) began. The construction  stopped when the project was damaged by Hurricane Hugo. In 1992 the reconstruction project began again and the building was completed when the trucks were backed in at the end of that year. This new station is a two story station with a big training room upstairs.


Chief Mixson continued to take the Fire Dept. through tremendous changes as he worked hard to improve the services that we provided to our citizens. He worked very hard to improve our ISO rating so that the citizens would get lower insurance rates. In 1994 he finally was able to bring our rating as low as a class 4 rating for any residence located within 100” of a fire hydrant. At that time the departments ISO rating was a Class 4/9.

In 1997 Chief Jim Mixson retired from the department after 20 years of volunteer service. Daniel Barb was appointed as the interim Chief as the Board of Directors began to look for a new Chief. In 1998 Keith Paradise was hired as the departments new Chief. During Chief Paradise’s day the department made giant leaps in short times. The department was forced to move out of the main station on North Main St as the SCDOT began to widen the roadway from 2 lanes to 4. Chief Paradise began the process to begin building our new headquarters station.

In 1999 the Pine Ridge Fire Dept. moved into its brand new headquarters facility consisting of a 4 bay truck bay and a large living facility that houses women and men’s sleeping quarters, administrative offices and a large kitchen. At the grand opening the Department also unveiled the department'ss second ever brand new fire Engine (ENG. 23).


In 2001 Chief Paradise resigned from the department and the Assistant Chief Walter Hilton was promoted to Chief. Chief Hilton continued to move the department forward as he worked hard to oversee a large amount of industrial construction in the New Hope community. During this time the department recognized the need to upgrade the equipment at the New Hope Station. In 2004 Chief Hilton received approval from the Board of Directors to purchase 2 new KME fire trucks for that station. Engine 24 and Tanker 26 were put into service replacing a 1971 engine and a 1980 military tanker.

In 2004 Chief Hilton Resigned from the department and Assistant Chief Jardin Hedman was promoted to Fire Chief. Chief Hedman held the chiefs position for one year before deciding to step down to his current position as Captain. Captain Hedman joined the department in 1984 and still is an active member after 30 years of all- volunteer service.

In March of 2007 Benjamin Waring was promoted to Fire Chief. Chief Waring began as a Firefighter in 1996. He rose through the ranks until being appointed Chief. The department has made many changes under Chief Waring beginning with the remodel of the New Hope Station. The station was upgraded inside and out to blend in with the new housing development that was being built around it. 

On June 18, 2007 the department, along with the entire Lowcountry, experienced a huge tragedy when nine Charleston Firefighters perished in the Sofa Super Store fire. Two of these firefighters were Pine Ridge Fire Dept. Captains Brandon Thompson and Michael French. The department was at lost for several months dealing with the pain from the Charleston Nine.

In 2008 the department along with the Families of Captain French and Thompson decided to do something special for the memory of our losses. The Myers Rd Headquarters station was renamed and dedicated as the Brandon Thompson Fire Station. The New Hope Station was renamed and dedicated as the Michael French Fire Station.

Some good happened in 2008 as well when the department was awarded a FEMA grant to replace all of its members turn out gear along with buying a new cascade breathing air system for the headquarters station. The total grant amount was over $104,000.00

In 2009 Chief Waring was approved by the Board of directors to purchase a new Rescue engine to replace the current Engine 21. The new engine (Engine 22) was placed into service in June of 2010.


2010 brought additional heartache as we lost our Deputy Chief Jeffery Thompson due to medical issues from a prior surgery. Chief Thompson was a huge supporter of our volunteers and he will always hold a special place in our hearts.

In 2012 the department added part time paid members to its roster and began to pay two firefighters during the daytime hours when the volunteer members were not available.

2013 - 09/23/2013 MWV and  Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial break ground on the new Courtyard by Marriott, in the first phase of Nexton. MWV sells 16 acres of property to the Berkeley County School District for a new elementary school in December. The groundbreaking for the 320-unit Parks at Nexton, the first residential units in the 4500-acre communityis held 01/16/2014.  Nexton community is well on it's way which will spark additional growth around it. 

In 2014 the department received another FEMA grant to upgrade all SCBA breathing air packs on all  of  our  apparatus. This included 35 new Scott air packs that cost a total of $239,000.00. This again was a blessing to our department as we would have never been able to upgrade this equipment as this grant allowed us to do.

In 2016 we had a roster of 45 volunteer members and 7 part time employees. Our department operated out of two stations that house 3 engines, 1 ladder truck, 2 squad trucks and two brush trucks. We have three command staff vehicles that are assigned to the Chief, Deputy Chief and the on call duty officer. We are averaging around 1200 to 1300 calls annually. We were also awarded another FEMA grant that allowed us to purchase a brand new Weis Brush truck. Del Web announces its new 55-plus community within Nexton


09/29/2020 - Pine Ridge is awarded a Staffing for Adaquate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant of $1,003,068 spread over three years beginning Jan. 3, 2021 give us the ability to hire six full-time firefighters (2 each day). 

11/01/2021 - Pine Ridge Board of Directors approves moving the Fire Chief and aministrative Chief's positions to full-time.

10/15/2022 - Pine Ridge and Longridge Fire Departments join forces. Chief Joe Cobin assumes the title of Longridge District Chief. 

11/01/2022 - Pine Ridge adopts Sandridge Volunteer Fire Department and Chief Carl Thompson assumes posion of Longridge District Chief

08/18/2023 Pine Ridge is awarded an AFG grant of $358,862 to purchase new air packs to upgrade and standardize the equipment in our additional stations.

07/01/2023 - Lebanon Fire Department of Berkeley County merges operations with Pine Ridge. Chief Horace (Nicky Sweatmen) remains active as Lebanon District Chief. 

Headquarters is located at 565 Myers Rd and Houses Engine 201, Ladder 201, and Squad 201 along with Command and Administrative offices.