Thursday, July 11, 2013
Firefighter Corey Merritt went straight from high school to the fire academy to his job as a firefighter with Summerville Fire Department. The 20-year-old has known since he was 15 years old that fighting fires and helping others was what he wanted to do with his life.
At 15, he became a junior firefighter with the Whitesville Volunteer Fire Department where he served until he was 18 when he left for his eight-week stint at the fire academy.
Merritt grew up in Pinopolis and went to Berkeley High School. He has a brother who is a police officer, another in the military, a sister in grad school to earn her degree in counseling … all siblings in some form of service to others.
Merritt's parents run their own business – Lowcountry Finishing.
“I always wanted to help people and I get both the medical aspect and firefighting … the best of both worlds,” said Merritt.
He has Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) training and he rides behind the captain, he said. Depending on when his truck arrives at a fire scene determines what he will be doing there. It might be pulling hose, going into the fire, ensuring water supply or going to the “Charlie” side of the building (the rear) to report back on conditions. He is trained for the RIT team – Rapid Intervention Team – which goes to the aid of downed firefighters. He is stationed at SFD headquarters – Station 1 on West 2nd North Street.
And the training never stops.
“We haven't had a major fire for a while,” said Merritt, “but every day we have drills.”
They train on equipment, brush up on skills like HazMat and get in-service training to keep their EMR skills up to date.
When he is not working, Merritt can be found fishing. “I fish every chance I get,” he laughed. “Fresh water, Ocean, whereever I can.” He eats everything he catches.
He and his girlfriend enjoy the sport together.
Merritt also likes hunting “everything and anything.”
“I hunt deer, coons, ducks, turkey…”
“I like being outdoors and hate being cooped up in the house,” Merritt explained.
His other love is family. “They are a huge part of my life,” he said. This includes his two cats and two coon dogs.
Sometimes he works in his parents' business, whenever they need help.
He spends a good deal of time, he said, studying and keeping up with techniques for fighting fires.
Merritt has been with SFD for a year and a half and plans to spend his entire career there. His goal is to retire from the fire service with SFD…perhaps with the rank of captain. He is quite clear he doesn't want to go any higher than Battalion Chief because he loves being 'on the floor' – the hands-on of actual firefighting as opposed to supervising, paperwork, etc.
“I love it here,” said Merritt. “the small-town atmosphere (even though Summerville is huge) it is very tight here [at SFD]. You always have people looking out for you.”