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Department History


By 1979 a group of 22 volunteers were trained by the SC Fire Academy. Ron McGonigle was appointed as the first acting chief.


Santee signed a co-op agreement with Eutawville in 1980 to join forces to fight fires in either district.


Through a referendum with the County 1982, Santee Volunteer Fire Department was voted as a Tax District which allowed tax dollars to be given to help support the department. A Junior Firemen program was started that same year with youth aged 12-17, in good health and with permission of parents, became Junior Firemen. They received training in fire prevention and some basic fire fighting skills to be used when they became volunteer firefighters.


The name was changed in1983 to Santee Fire Service District.


With the retirement of Chief McGonigle in December 1989, Frankie Birt was appointed chief.


On June 1, 1985 the ground breaking for the fire station was held. Wendell Dunning, State Senator John W. Matthews Jr, State Rep Ken Bailey and Santee Mayor Franklin B. Goodwin Jr all wielded shovels to help Chief Ron McGonigle with the ceremony. A Mutual Aid agreement to join forces to fight fires in either district was signed that same year with Vance.


When Frankie Birt retired in April 1991 Gene Ball and Kenneth Wright were appointed interim chiefs. By November 1992 Gene Ball was appointed chief.


Karen Waltz became the first Santee woman firefighter in 1993

Charter Members


Front row, left to right: Bobby Bair; Bob Burbage, 1st assistant chief; Willie Aiken, 3rd engineer; Bill Johnson; Clarence Gilmore, deputy fire inspector; Wendell Dunning, John Gilmore, 1st engineer, Gene Ball, chaplain.


Back row, left to right: Ron McGonigle, chief; Aubrey Jones; Callie Kinard, 2nd assistant chief; Dale Matthews; John West; Johnny Horton, 2nd lieutenant; Eddie Bannister; Coleman Green, 1st lieutenant; bill Butler, traffic controller; David Ellinwood, fire inspector; Bobby Dantzler, fire controller.


Absent: Tom Everett, public relations assistant; Kenneth Wright, 2nd engineer; Haywood Sellers.

Ron McGonigle

First Fire Chief

1979 -1989

Frankie Birt

Second Fire Chief


Gene Ball

Third Fire Chief


Ground Breaking

June 1, 1985

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