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Residents in uproar over fee-based fire service

The department's chief says the move is necessary because of financial hardships

CLINTON, S.C. — A SC volunteer fire department's move to transition to a fee-based operation has prompted an outcry from residents.

Some civilians have gotten so angry that they've launched personal attacks on the department's chief, demanding he be fired, according to Knox News.

"I am surprised at the personal attacks on me. It's very disheartening," Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Bagwell said.

The 9,000 residents that occupy about 5,000 homes in the department's service area were notified in October that the fire service would transition into a subscription-based program starting in 2013.

Chief Bagwell estimates that the annual subscription for most homes would be between $100 and $250. Non-enrolled members would be charged $1,900 for the first hour of response to a structure fire and $150 for medical calls.

Bagwell told Knox News that the member service was necessary because of a "financial crisis," claiming that the department needs quadruple its $100,000 annual budget to operate.

Some residents have voiced concerns that their insurance companies would be notified if they opted out of the service, while Chief Bagwell said it's not true and that most companies would find out on their own anyways.

Chief Bagwell is to appear at a county commissioners' public hearing to discuss the widely unpopular motion.

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