Timeline Summary

1961 FIRE SERVICE ESTABLISHED
1970 SSFD EXPANDS TO 3 FIRE STATIONS
1972 ISLANDS VOLUNTEER FD JOINS THE SSFD RANKS
1975 SKIDAWAY ISLAND FD JOINS THE SSFD RANKS
1978 MONTGOMERY VOLUNTEER FD JOINS THE SSFD RANKS
1979 CITY OF SAVANNAH CONTRACTS WITH SSFD
1989 SENDS TEAM FOR HURRICAN HUGO RELIEF EFFORTS
1991 7TH DISTRICT FD JOINS SSFD RANKS
1994 SENDS SUPPORT TEAMS FOR SOUTHWEST GEORGIA FLOODS
1996 SSFD GROWS TO 11 STATIONS + HEADQUARTERS
1997 SSFD MERGES WITH MERCY AMBULANCE AND BEGINS PROVIDING EMS SERVICES
2001 SENDS RELIEF TEAM TO WORLD TRADE CENTER TRAGEDY
2005 SENDS TEAM FOR HURRICAN KATRINA RELIEF EFFORTS
2007 SENDS TEAM FOR GEORGIA WILDFIRE RELIEF EFFORTS
2008 SSFD BEGINS OFFERING SECURITY SERVICE
OVER 100 PERSONNEL IMMEDIATELY RESPOND TO IMPERIAL SUGAR EXPLOSION
2010 SSFD IS THE LEADING PROVIDER OF FIRE, EMS AND SECURITY SERVICES IN SOUTHEAST GEORGIA

SSFD History

Southside Fire/EMS/Security is a community-based, combination, non-profit Fire, EMS, and Security department, which has been in operation since 1961. A Board of Directors, elected by our members/subscribers, governs Southside. The Board establishes policy, subscription rates for members, and appoints a Chief/General Manager over policies and operations. The Board members serve at their leisure and receive no financial compensation for their service.

In 1961, the southern half of Chatham County had no fire protection. With a piece of land, one fire engine, and a budget of $10,000, residents of southern Chatham County joined together to form Southside Fire Department. This model exemplified protection “for the community, by the community.” By 1970, Southside had expanded to three (3) Fire Stations with both volunteer and full-time career personnel and a twenty-four (24) hour dispatch center.

Past Board of Directors
PAST BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Past Skidaway Island Volunteers
PAST SKIDAWAY ISLAND VOLUNTEERS

The Islands Volunteer Fire Department joined with Southside in 1972, adding the fourth fire station to Southside. Skidaway Island Volunteer Fire Department voted to join Southside in 1975, bringing in Station 5. In 1978, Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department elected to come onboard adding Station 6 to the list.

An interesting year in Southside’s history was in 1979 when the City of Savannah annexed a large southern section of Chatham County. As the City could not physically provide fire protection at the time, Savannah contracted with Southside to cover the newly annexed southern-half of the City. This contract was in effect until 1999: 20 years. During this time period both the City of Savannah and unincorporated Chatham County grew in population. Internal growth of Southside mirrored that growth by adding more equipment, more personnel, and more comprehensive services and training. In 1991, the Seventh District Volunteer Fire Department chose to work with Southside. Southside now had five (5) divisions: Southside, Islands, Skidaway, Montgomery, and Seventh District. By 1996, Southside had grown to eleven (11) fire stations plus a HQ complex including full mechanic shop and a growing 24/7 dispatch center.

Ford Fire Truck
FORD FIRE TRUCK
Proud to be SSFD
PROUD TO BE SSFD

In 1997, a unique opportunity presented itself. Wanting to remain on the cutting edge and set the standard for emergency services in Chatham County, Southside merged with Mercy Ambulance Service to form Southside Fire/EMS: today, still the only Fire and EMS service in Chatham County. The addition of Mercy EMS to Southside brought in more equipment, more specialized training, more personnel, and more involvement with the community. It also added twelve (12) years of EMS experience within Chatham County to Southside’s expertise. As of 2008, that expertise has grown to twenty-three (23) years of serving the sick and injured in Chatham.

Southside was asked by residents and industry in February of 2008 to provide coverage for the eastern end of President Street and Southern LNG’s Elba Island facility. Once again Southside expanded not only its coverage area, but also its services with the addition of Security forces. El Paso contracted with Southside to provide Security for their industry (and all security personnel are cross-trained in Fire & EMS as well). More services provided and more personnel added. The growth continued. By May of 2008, within three (3) months, Southside was on the street providing Fire protection, EMS, and Security to Elba and surrounding neighborhoods.

In 2011, Southside Fire/EMS/Security had the opportunity to acquire Medstar Ambulance and did so:  more growth.  Career personnel levels climbed over 230.  All Career personnel are required to be trained and State Certified in all 3 disciplines:  Fire, EMS, and Security.

Past Office Staff and Volunteers
PAST OFFICE STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
Past Southside Volunteers
PAST SOUTHSIDE VOLUNTEERS

Currently Southside Fire/EMS/Security operates in all of Chatham County. We provide fire services to approximately 120,000 people and cover a 245 square mile area with fire protection.  Our emergency medical services cover all of Chatham County (approx 630 sq mi.) with a population of 276,000 through the 911 response system. Our security services are contracted to businesses and individuals as needed.  Since our humble one station, one fire engine beginning in 1961, Southside has grown to include 23 stations, 38 ambulances, 18 fire engines, 4 aerial trucks, 2 heavy-duty rescue trucks, 1 light duty rescue truck, 5 water tankers, 2 natural disaster STORM trailers, 1 air supply truck, 2 rehab units, 1 mass casualty support trailer, a headquarters (HQ) complex with a full-service mechanical shop, assorted officers vehicles, a 24/7 dispatch center with CAD and mobile data system, and a total of 360 personnel, both volunteer and career.  Our volunteers save the taxpayers of Chatham County approximately five and one-half million dollars annually.  That’s right:  $5,500,000 per year.

Past Montgomergy Volunteers
PAST MONTGOMERY VOLUNTEERS
 Past Island's Volunteers
PAST ISLAND'S VOLUNTEERS

Southside maintains an experienced command staff with nine Chief level officers that have a total of over two hundred and fifty years public safety experience and 15 Divisional chief officers with over one hundred fifty years experience.

But our success is not just local. Our supporters have often wanted to help our fellow Americans when in need. Through Southside, our subscribers have helped during the following disasters:

Hurricane Hugo, Sept., 1989: teams sent to North Charleston, SC,

Floods of SW GA, July, 1994: teams sent for search & rescue & dive-recovery;

9-11-2001, NY: two (2) search dog teams sent to World Trade Center attacks,

Hurricane Katrina, Sept., 2005: command team sent for fire protection in Waveland, MS,

Wildfires of S. GA, April & May, 2007: three (3) separate fire teams deployed, and

Imperial Sugar Explosion, Feb, 2008: 100 Southside personnel respond.

In addition, Southside Fire/EMS/Security has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years in support of the Southeastern Firefighter’s Burn Foundation ($49,000 in 2010 & $22,000 in 2008 for the victims of the sugar explosion), MDA’s “Jerry’s Kids” boot drives, relief for 9-11 NYFD victims, Charleston FD’s tragedy, and other worthy causes. We act and we support.

Past Skidaway Island Volunteers
PAST SKIDAWAY ISLAND VOLUNTEERS
GMC Pumper
GMC PUMPER

We believe it is a proud history. Southside exemplifies safety and protection “for the community, by the community,” whether that community is right here at home or helping across our State, or Nation. It is a standard in which we believe, and a standard we have set.