Wil Keith

Midway Fire Rescue Chaplain Wil Keith blesses Ladder 814 before it is put into service.

After a blessing and dedication ceremony Sept. 14, Midway Fire Rescue now is equipped with a 137-foot ladder truck, the tallest currently serving the state of South Carolina.

The almost $1.6 million Ladder 814 fire truck is now ready to serve citizens after the ceremony Sept. 14 at the department’s headquarters on Willbrook Ave. in Pawleys Island.

Chief Doug Eggiman explained to the crowd gathered at the fire station that the truck will be an asset to the area.

“It’s really quite a momentous occasion,” Eggiman said. “These trucks have a 15-year life span with the department, so this is obviously not something that happens every day. It not only enhances the safety of the community but also the safety of our firefighters.”

According to Eggiman, the truck will be the last apparatus of the station’s current capital equipment replacement program (CERP) and then the process starts over again after a few years.

“Every single year, within our budget, we contribute to a CERP that sets aside a certain amount of monies so that when the time comes to replace an apparatus or an ambulance, the money is actually there and ready to go,” Eggiman said.

Eggiman said that most public safety vehicles come with a big price tag, but no price can be put on the number of lives it will save.

“The responsibility associated with this truck of it being in service and staying in service and being dependable; lives literally depend on this truck,” Chief Eggiman said. 

Assistant Fire Chief James Crawford said the length of the truck’s ladder will give them the advantage to fight fires because of the many structures in the area that are set back from the road and has limited access. Crawford said the truck will allow their team to rescue kayakers that get stuck in pluff mud because of tides.

According to Chief Eggiman what really makes Ladder 814 special is that it is dedicated to Battalion Chief Josh Carney, who passed away on Oct. 19, 2017, from stage 4 melanoma cancer.

“We felt that is was appropriate because one of Josh’s things was being on the apparatus committee,” Chief Eggiman said. “As you look around here, he had his hands in all of these trucks. Josh made a tremendous impact on this department.”

To continue Josh’s legacy, his family has made it their mission to raise awareness of firefighter occupational cancer by starting the Carney Strong Initiative, which provides decontamination products, cancer prevention and educational materials to fire departments across the county.

“The apparatus committee was his thing with the fire department,” Josh’s wife Lillian Carney said. “They all have the roles that they do in addition to fighting fires and that was his. He took a lot of pride during his time on the committee. When they told me that they were going to dedicate to him, I cried, I’m not going to lie. It’s heartwarming to know that Josh is forever etched at Midway.”

Midway also honored the South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (S.C.U.T.E) organization, celebrating its 30th year with a logo on the back on the truck.

“We fought that it was very important to have them on there because they are always on the beaches and taking care of our sea turtles,” Crawford said. “We are really proud of what they do.”

The ceremony concluded with a ceremonial wet down from Midway Chaplain Father Wil Keith. All firefighters then participated in the signature event: the push-in to its parking spot inside the bay of the firehouse.