25 September, 2016. Extrication Class. Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue   03 December, 2016. Basic Firefighter Students pass Live Fire Drill and Final Exam! Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue   14 October 2017. Basic Suppression Firefighter Students do Victim Extrication. Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue

  Welcome to Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue, the website of the Oglethorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association. The Association facilitates the 14 independent county Volunteer Fire Departments, the Volunteer Rescue Company and the Oglethorpe County Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission in achieving their goal to improve their response to incidents through joint training, formal courses, formulation of standard operating guidelines and improving communication abilities and equipment. The Association also represents its members in their interaction with government agencies, insurance organizations and the public that they serve.

The Association meets every first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Lexington Baptist Church at 103 Church Street in Lexington. The Executive Committee meets on the last Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm at the Oglethorpe County EMA Office at 866 Athens Road (Highway 78) in Crawford. Rescue members from each department meet every last Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Oglethorpe County EMS/Rescue/Training Center at 892 Athens Road (Highway 78) in Crawford. Although not part of the Association, many of the Association members are also members of the volunteer Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) which is part of EMS. EMR meetings are the second Monday of the month at 7:00 pm, also at the Oglethorpe County EMS/Rescue/Training Center


The Registered Volunteer Suppression Firefighters class held a practical excercise at Greg Gabriel's on Saturday, 14 October 2017. The instructors included Jessie Carter and Jehru Post. EMS, suppression firefighters and other observers also attended.

Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017
Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017
Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017
Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017   Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 14 2017

Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 12 October 2017]

Cancer insurance

   This is an exchange of emails about a new requirement for cancer insurance for volunteer fireman [sic] in the county. The missives are from Douglas Spencer to Billy Pittard along with a response. There is a letter to Ga senator Lee Anderson from Pittard.

To: Billy Pittard

   First, a request from the Fire Association for a budget amendment at the November BOC to cover the cancer insurance premium. It was a remarkably civil discussion, which mostly centered around how the legislation was created and if there were any exceptions. Toward the end of the conversation Nancy Bryan asked that the Association get on the November BOC agenda; it was put in the form of a motion with unanimous support. Not sure that was necessary, as I explained you and I had already talked. Regardless, they wanted me to make the request.

Douglas Spencer

To: Douglas Spencer

   It's unfortunate the the association has decided that they are [a] political activist. With that said, no, there will not be an amendment to cover the cancer insurance in November, and no, the association will not be on the agenda. We have a public comment session and anyone in attendence is welcomed [sic] to speak for three minute [sic] with no discussion from the board. If you, or the association members want to come and comment during the public comment session then fine.

   But, I will tell you (again) in advance that this problem, in my opinion, needs to be directed towards those that enacted it (the legislature, specifically Trey Rhodes and Lee Anderson) before you begin to approach the board of commissioners. They voted for it so let them fund it or provide an exception.

Best regards,
Billy Pittard
Oglethorpe County Board of Commissioners


As you will see, the VFD's [sic] in Oglethorpe county have requested that the county government fund their mandated cancer insurance (estimated at $275 per). You will also see that "I" have to intensions to oblige. Further, you will see tht I recommend the association contact you and Trey for the funding or an exemption.

It is my understanding that if the departments do not comply with the mandate then they will will become non-certified by standards and training and the areas that they serve will get an ISO rating of 10. I'm personally willing to see if this happens. If so, I will definitely let our constituents know that we (the county government) had nothing to do with their ratings and premiums going up. Rather, this was simply a matter of political grandstanding with mandates on the locals that are unfunded by those who created the mandate. And that will be the absolute truth.

I know that it would have been terribly unpopular to vote against the bill. However, I challenge you and Trey to attempt to explain how the lack of cancer insurance for volunteers (that don't care to have the insurance) should affect their ability to provide fire service and the related ISO ratings and insurance premiums. I also request that you introduce legislation that will provide an opportunity for volunteer agencies to elect not to participate without consequence.

The intentions were pure, the consequences, not so much.

Best regards,
Billy Pittard
Oglethorpe County Board of Commissioners
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The Registered Volunteer Suppression Firefighter class held a practical excercise at Arnoldsville VFD on 10 October 2017. Instruction in the use of SCBA (on loan from Winterville VFD), tests of rapid dress, and introduction to extrication equipment followed a lecture on Lighting and Rescue. Jessie Carter was the primary instructor.

Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017   Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017   Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017
Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017   Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017   Volunteer Suppression Firefighter Class; Oglethorpe County GA. October 10 2017

Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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There was extensive discussion about the unfunded mandate for departments to provide cancer coverage for their firefighters starting in 2018 (see number 4 in the news item immediately below).

The following motion was proposed, seconded and passed without objection:

"The Association will present a request, in 2017, to the Board of Commissioners for additional funds to cover the Cancer Coverage mandated to start in January 2018."
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Attending: Douglas Spencer, President (elected); Josh Tucker, Vice-President (elected); Jessie Carter, Rescue Captain (Ex Officio); Glenn Galau, Public Information Officer (appointed)
Absent: Christopher Owensby, Secretary/Treasurer (elected); Jehu Post, Secretary/Treasurer in Waiting (elected); Stacy Worley, Training Officer (appointed); Unfilled Position, Deputy Director OCEMA (Ex Officio); Alice Williamson, CERT Chairwoman (Ex Officio)
Visitor: Cody Post, Beaverdam FF

Several informational items were discussed. No position or action was taken with any of them.

1) Departmental Compliance
There are several requirements that have to be met for a fire department to be in compliance with the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council (GFSTC). Among them are:
a) A roster of at least six firefighters. These must include four Registered Suppression FF, an Apparatus/Pump Operator and a Chief. The Apparatus/Pump Operator and the Chief may be Registered Support FF (this is perhaps an oversight and may change to Registered Suppression FF in the future).
b) All Suppression and Support FF must have completed 24 hr of Professional Development per calendar year (see below) to remain in Registered status.
c) Incident reports to NFIRS (through GFIRS) must be up to date;
d) Minimum apparatus and equipment;
e) Cancer Insurance on FF (see below).

If a home is not within the district of a compliant fire department, it may not be insurable and not be able to be mortgaged.

2) Department Mergers
Vesta, Wesley Chapel and Devils Pond have signed documents approving the merger of all three departments into a new department in which the three entities will then be stations. GFSTC will assign a new FDID number to the new department. The name of the new department will be The Oglethorpe Consolidated Fire and Rescue Department. It will include Rescue. The interim Chief will be Douglas Spencer.

Each station will control its own financial affairs, including retaining its yearly donation by the Board of Commissioners (BOC).

a) All Incident, Training, Pension, and other records will be consolidated. All stations will be treated as members of the same department.
b) ISO will have a single point of contact.
c) There will only be one, consolidated, roster for the department. It will not distinguish the home station of the FF. Thus, present departments with insufficient number of FF will be able to continue as a station.

3) Reporting Professional Development
In addition to reporting the number of hours and the topic of each course for each FF at GFSTC, there must also be records in the department of claimed professional development hours for each FF, both Suppression and Support. To be counted, there must be a certificate from a third party or records of completing a skills examination or completing a written examination appropriate for the topic of the training.

For 2016, 24 hr and for 2017, 24 hr, or
For 2016, less than 24 h, but for 2016 plus 2017, 48 hr.
Hours from a prior year cannot be carried over to a following year. For instance, having 50 hr in 2016 counts only as 24 hr in 2016, the extra 26 hr cannot be used in 2017.

4) Cancer Insurance
The Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) lobbied the State to pass a law requiring that each FF have cancer insurance coverage. Oglethorpe County Billy Pitard is the Vice-President of ACCG. ACCG has a relationship with a particular insurance company that offers this coverage. It is unlikely that Medicare, Medicare Gap, or other medical insurance coverage counts toward this mandate. Douglas reported that Billy Pitard would not support the county adding that coverage to its yearly contributions to the departments. Douglas reported that George Johnson (who is the insurance agent for the Association's present three insurance policies) quoted a premium of $ 275 per FF per year (assuming 150 FF). At about 135 FF presently in the county, that is about $ 37,000 a year. Similar coverage with a significantly higher premium is reported to be available from the ACCG affiliate.

Submitted by Glenn Galau
03 October, 2017
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The Association will hold three firefighter courses this fall. Goals, requirements, and schedule are in the 2017 Training Packet.

Lecture and most practical drills will be at the Arnoldsville VFD from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm on some Saturdays.

The Support Firefighter course is from Thursday, 14 September [delayed due to Irma], to Thursday, 05 October. It costs $50 and does not require a textbook.

The Suppression Firefighter course includes the Support Firefighter course and continues to Saturday, 02 December. It costs an additional $200 and requires a textbook described in the packet. Passing the written and practical exams earns the student the status of Registered Volunteer Suppression Firefighter.

Support or Suppression Firefighters can then take the following Pump Apparatus Operator Course, which runs from Monday, 04 December, through Saturday, 16 December. This course also requires a Class F driver's licence. It costs an additional $50 but does not require a text. Its goals are to teach firefighters how to drive and operate engines and tankers.

Seventeen students from Arnoldsville VFD, Beaverdam VFD, Crawford VFD, Philomath VFD, Salem VFD, Vesta VFD, Winterville VFD and Wolfskin VFD completed the Support Firefighter section and twelve are continuing with the Suppression Firefighter section.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


Douglas Spencer taught a 40-hr course, Instructor I, designed to certify the student to teach prepared courses to public safety students. The Instructor I is also expected to have personal experience in the subjects that they teach.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


David Bullard reviewed how the six senses can be used to understand what is happening at an incident and how to act on that information. The 4-hr course was held at the Training Center and was attended by about 12 Oglethorpe County firefighters. An interesting take on incident command.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


In the first of what will be many iterations of reviewing the Association's 2007 SOGs, Association President Douglas Spencer proposed new versions of four SOPs. They were read this evening and will be voted on during the 07 March 2017 Association meeting. They were: 1) Drugs and Alchohol; 2) Radio Communications; 3) POV Emergency Lights; and 4) PPE.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 26 January 2017]

Lexington agrees to county fire funds

   Douglas Spencer came to the Lexington City Council without a hat for the January meeting.
   But when he explained his jobs he really should have been wearing three of them.
   Lexington Mayor Rick Berry has been soliciting county funds for the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department for much of the past year.
   Spencer, who is head of the County Emergency Management Agency, President of the Oglethorpe County [Volunteer] Fire[fighters] Association, and Chief of the Vesta Volunteer Fire Department, came to the meeting to inform Berry and the council that they would likely be receiving $7500 from the county.
   He also explained that the money would be deducted from the approximately $15,000 the commissioners had been allotting to the City of Crawford.
   Spencer also gave the mayor and council background on how money was traditional allocated to the 14 volunteer fire departments in the county, and how he would like to move forward with that distribution in the future.
   Berry said he thought it would be foolish for the city to turn down the money although he had some misgivings about Crawford having their allotment cut in half.
   Berry said he had been assured that Mayor Jimmy Coile of Crawford and the council had stated and repeated at their January meeting, when they were informed of the funding reduction, that while they were upset with the county, they were not mad at Lexington for seeking funding.
   Spencer explained that even if Lexington did not accept the funding from the county, it would not go back to Crawford, but instead into the county's general fund. He admitted that there were probably some issues between the City of Crawford and the Commissioner's office.
   Spencer said that originally the athe county was divided into fire districts. A half mill of property tax in each district was assigned for fire protection funding to the volunteer fire department that served that district.
   The City of Lexington, at the time, served inside the city limits, had a mutual aid agreement with the City of Crawford and Wesley Chapel, and charged a subscription fee to anyone else with[in] a three to five mile radius of the Lexington fire hall.
   The fund for volunteer fire departments had since been frozen at 168,000 and was not really set at the half-mill value for fire districts anymore.
   The funds from the subscription service have been declining, especially over the last year.
   Beaverdam receives the most of any of the fire departments in the count, approximately $28-$29,000. Crawford had been second at 15,000. Most departments receive $10-12,000, while Vesta was at $7,000.
   Spencer pointed out that the Insurance Service Organization (ISO), a private company that gives fire department ratings and then sells that information to insurance companies, now sets the fire rating by determining if a house is within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant and within five miles of a fire station.
   Part of Berry's argument, over the past year, to County Commissioner Bill Pittard and County Administrator Josh Hawkins, has been that the City of Lexington has put in well over a million dollars worth of water tanks and water lines, with hydrants. This expenditure by Lexington was essentially reducing the number of people that were willing to subscribe to their Class Six volunteer fire department rating.
   Questioned why insurance companies increased rates to some subscribers if they didn't pay subscription for Lexington fire protection, Spencer replied that it was nothing to do with the ISO rating on a particular property but a decision by the insurance company.
   Spenceer noted that the City of Lexington has been answering calls outside the city for at least the last year, regardless of whether a property was on the subscription list. Spencer said that the subscription list was not a concern or the county of the ISO.
   Berry also pointed out that the county's other fire departments were making use of $12,000 in radio equipment that the city had donated for their use.
   Spencer said that as head of the Fire Association he hoped to do away with the current map. Funding decisions would instead, he said, be based on a minimum flat amount to each department, and then addition funds based on the performance of the fire departments.
   Each department would be required to submit a budget, and then monitored for the number of personnel, the amount and quality of equipment, the training provided for personnel and meeting other reporting requirements.
   Berry noted that while preparing the expected budget for the county and going over last year's expenditures the city had spent $11,000 more on fire protection than had been allocated. Those funds came out of the city's general budget.
   Spencer noted that from the state's perspective, there shouldn't be any difference in the basic training and equipement for a fireman whether he was in downtown Atlanta or podunk Vesta.
   The change to the allocation of fire protection funds might well be in place by the county's next fiscal year, Spencer said.
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[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 26 January 2017]

County funding of fire departments should not be a zero-sum game

   I hope to clarify some of last week's front page article concerning a possible transfer of half of the county's annual support of the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department to the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department, which as yet has not been funded by the county. It is also an opportunity to correct misunderstandings about fire protection that are held by many of our residents.
   All firefighters in the 14 fire departments in the county are volunteer. No firefighter in the county gets a penny for the time they spend responding to incident calls, attending training or maintaining their stations, trucks and equipment. Departments have to report to the State about their training and the incidents to which they respond. They write grants for new equipment and apparatus. If successful, they have to come up with matching funds.
   Departments try to recruit and retain new members. Firefighter safety and capability depend on their equipment as well as their training. No department has the spare cash to spend the $8,000 required to outfit a new firefighter. This impacts firefighter morale, recruitment and effectiveness in fighting fires.
   Furthermore, the cost of running a department does not scale with the number of calls or any other measure of a department's performance. Most of the cost is just having a department in place capable of responding.
   Income comes from contributions from their government(s), fundraising, donations from residents and too often from the firefighters. Departments have to triage the competing demands of routine operating expenses, insurance premiums and maintenance and replacement of apparatus and equipment.
   The unincorporated portion of the county and the four municipalities within the county, Arnoldsville, Crawford, Lexington and Maxeys, each receive money from a tax on home insurance premiums paid by property owners within its borders. The tax is primarily intended to pay for fire protection. The amount of this income and what fraction of it goes for fire protection should be obvious in the budgets of the five governments.
   The county 2017 Proposed Budget, available at onlineoglethorpe.com, has Insurance Premium Tax income as $700,000 and Volunteer Fire Department expenditures of $170,000. The county distributes this to the departments in its unincorporated fire districts, but it also supplements the income of three of the four municipal departments because they have historically covered calls outside their city limits. The amount that the county gives to each of these 14 fire departments has not significantly changed in many years. The distribution is based on the assessed value of property in the fire districts as of about eight years ago. It is not based on present valuations, population, square miles, or the number or type of incidents in each district.
   Insurance premium tax income and expenditures are not readily available for the four municipalities, but their departments do receive some of it and in-kind donations from their city councils. Arnoldsville, Crawford and Maxeys also get funds from the county because, like all of the departments in the unincorporated parts of the county, they respond to incidents outside their boundaries. Lexington joined the Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association in January 2014, with the understanding that they would respond to calls outside their city limits, which they had already been doing. Thus Lexington has been eligible for county funds for at least the past three years but has not received any. In order to calculate an equivalent amount for Lexington using the present BOC funding formula, it seems that its district boundaries would have to be expanded at the expense of neighboring departments. That does not seem reasonable.
   Fire protection throughout the county depends on multiple fire departments. For reports of structure fires, brush fires, vehicle fires and activation of smoke or fire alarms, 911 Central is supposed to dispatch three fire departments at once and continue to dispatch additional departments until it is certain that three departments are responding. For the most part, 911 Central does this. Descriptions of most incidents in 2015 and 2016 are available at oglethorpefirerescue.org.
   It is inaccurate to characterize Crawford and Lexington, or any group of departments, as dividing up a common territory and each taking a part of it. In 2016, Crawford responded to about 73 incidents and Lexington to about 44 incidents. They were both present, usually with an additional department, at about 28 of these incidents. As is true for all other departments throughout the county, Crawford and Lexington cover each other and their neighboring departments.
   It is way past time to increase the amount of the insurance premium taxes that are returned to the departments by the county and the municipalities. It is past time to develop a more reasonable formula to distribute these monies. The Lexington problem has to be solved. Efforts to do these have been started by both the BOC and the Association but they have been stalled for over half a year. Hopefully the present controversy will produce some progress in these directions.
   Glenn Galau
   Public Information Officer
   Oglethorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association

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Douglas Spencer taught a 40 hour course, HazMat Awareness and Ops at Athens Tech - Elberton.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


A brief summary of the 2016 incidents, as recovered from 911 Central Dispatch and other sources, has now been added to the desciptions of individual incidents on the 2016 Incidents page. The full taxonomy of the incidents is available as 2016incidentsummary2.pdf. The brief summary is reproduced below.

Department Calls + SR

Arnoldsville 64
Beaverdam 64
Crawford 73
Devils Pond 52
GA Forestry 52
Glade 18
Maxeys 30
Lexington 45
Philomath 15
Pleasant Hill 53
Rescue 23
Sandy Cross 44
Salem 44
Vesta 29
Wesley Chapel 34
Wolfskin 19

Total Calls + SR 659

Total Incidents 226
Complex Incidents 21
Total Coded Incidents 247

SR = Self Responding (No Call)

Primary Incident Type Number   Lower Level Type Number

Vehicle Accident 57   Fire Watch/Traffic Control 52
      Extrication 5
Brush Fire 46   Ignition Not Reported 23
      Deliberate Ignition 7
      Other Ignition Reported 16
False Alarm 53   Brush Fire 19
      Fire or Smoke Alarm 13
      Vehicle Fire 7
      Smoke 6
      Structure Fire 5
      Other 3
Structure Fire 23   Residence 16
      Outbuilding 5
      Other 2
Vehicle Fire 20   Ignition Not Reported 17
      Ignitiion Reported 3
Safety Check 18   Interior Smoke 9
      External Fire 4
      Electrical 2
      Other 3
Good Neighbor 5   Road Cleaning 3
      Restoration Run 1
      Other 1
Power Line Down 5   Fallen Tree 3
      Other 2
Assist Other Counties 4   Brush Fire 2
      Other 2
Other Fires 4   Lawn Mower 2
      Other 2
Natural Gas Leak 4   Accidental Line Damage 2
      Other 2
Code Enforcement 3   Illegal Burn 3
Medical 2   Lift Assist 1
      Landing Zone Prep 1
Other 3   Other 3

Total Coded Incidents 247     247

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Lexington VFD joined the Association at the beginning of 2014, but has yet to receive any funding from the county. Association President Douglas Spencer related that he understood that the County Board of Commissioners (BOC) was considering what amount of support they would provide Lexington VFD during 2017 and from what source that would come. Douglas said that the BOC were thinking of reducing by half what they normally contribute to Crawford VFD and giving the difference to Lexington VFD. That means Crawford VFD would have their county contribution reduced from about $15,000 to $7,500, the remaining $7,500 going to Lexington VFD. Douglas related no reasons or motives of the BOC for this unusual proposal.

The attendees at the meeting unanimously felt that this was very unfair to Crawford VFD. This included the mayor of Lexington, Rick Berry, who was present at the meeting.

[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 19 January 2017]
Additions for clarity, and to correct matters of fact, are in brackets.

Crawford upset with reduction of funds from county for fire dept

   The Crawford Crawford City Council had a lengthy discussion regarding fire departments and county funding at their January meeting. It was held on Tuesday the 10th.
   Oglethorpe County Firefighter's Association President Douglas Spencer was present at the meeting to speak to the council. He is also the director of the Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency.
   Spencer informed the council that the Oglethorpe County Board of Commissioners is considering cutting the funds that are normally given to the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department in half. The other half would be given to the Lexington [Volunteer] Fire Department.
   He explained that the BOC use a map of the county to determine how much money each department gets annually. The amount is determined by the property values in each community.
   Spencer said the Lexington Fire Department is not included on that map because they weren't part of the Firefighter's Association when [the map] was created. The department joined the association about 5 years ago [it was January 2014].
Crawford's fire department receives over $15,000 from the county each year. Thus, Spencer said the commissioners are looking at giving Crawford approximately $7,500 this year, with Lexington receiving the other half.
   The Crawford council members were immediately upset by the news, as was Crawford Fire Department Chief Lynn Shedd. He stated that the BOC should take a portion of the funds from each department to give to Lexington, instead of just from Crawford, and the council agreed.
   Shedd pointed out that the Crawford Fire Department assists many of the other departments in the county with calls. Mayor Jimmy Coile added that the department did not provide service outside the city in the past until the county agreed to help fund it.
   Therefore, he stated that if the county cut the city's budget for the fire department, he thought the department should cut what it did outside the city. Several of the council members noted that Lexington's department had always been run by the city until recently [that has not changed], and it didn't answer calls outside of the city unless the caller was a subscriber [not true after Lexington joined the Association].
   Councilman Seavy O'Neal remarked that the issue sounded like "Lexington's problem, not Crawford's." Shedd mentioned that the department's insurance alone is $5,000 each year.
   Coile said that the city's taxpayers purchased both of the department's fire trucks and all of its equipment. He added that they couldn't take the taxpayer's money and use it outside of the city.
   When asked, Spencer reported that the county provides about $160,000 in funding annually that is divided among 15 [actually 13, not including Lexington] fire departments in Oglethorpe. He said he didn't know yet if the funding cut for Crawford was definitely going to happen, but he believed it would, and he just wanted to make the city aware.
   Spencer noted that he had been trying to revise the financial procedures for the fire departments for a while. He agreed with the council that he didn't think different departments should receive such varied amounts of funding.
   He emphasized that all of the decisions regarding county funding were made by the BOC. However, Spencer remarked that he believed the commissioner's thinking in splitting the funding was that if Lexington is doing half the work in the same area as Crawford's department, then they should receive half the funding.
   O'Neal replied that if Lexington wanted more money, they should find a way to generate more instead of taking it from other departments. Coile added that Crawford's department could not "operate that way" with less funding.
   Spencer estimated that he should know for sure if the county was going to cut Crawford's funding or not around the first of February. The council pointed out that they had already budgeted $15,000 in funding from the county this year, and their budget was "extremely tight" as it was.
   Coile said it was too late for the county to "pull the rug out from under us," and he would be talking with the city attorney about it. O'Neal echoed that it was "bad business" and "disrespectful" of the BOC.
   Mayor Pro Tem Terry Brewer stated that he felt the city needed to "take a stern line" on the issue. O'Neal said the board needed to look at all of the fire department's budgets instead of "taking the easy way out and creating bad blood over $7,500."
   The council was in agreement that the county needed to look into the situation more thoroughly for next year's budget instead of doing it this year. They felt it was too late in the budgetary process for the city's department to receive such a cut.
   Coile instructed Spencer to tell the BOC that Crawford was not in agreement with their fire department's budget being cut. He added that if the county went ahead with cutting their funding, then the city would have to cut their service to areas outside the city limits.
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All four students completed the 95-hr "Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Burn" course by doing live structure fire drills at the Morgan County Fire Training Center. At least seven staff from Morgan County, Madison and Newton County generously conducted the testing and training. They described the students as "excellent" and among the very best they had worked with over many years. All four students also passed a written exam held after the fire drills, so are now Registered Volunteer Firefighters!

The course was taught in Oglethorpe County by Douglas Spencer, aided by Stacy Worley, Chad Harrell, Jay Post, Glenn Galau, Zack Dudley and several others. Maxeys VFD hosted many of the live excercises.
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The students are, from left to right, Christopher Blackwell with Vesta VFD, A.J. Wiles with Pleasant Hill VFD, and Noah Ray and Jonathan Moody, both with Maxeys VFD.

Chad Harell, Stacy Worley, Gene Porter, Douglas Spencer, Corry Lane, Nigel Bullard, David Harper, Noah Ray, Christopher Blackwell, A.J. Wiles and Jonathan Moody
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Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery


In an effort to meet the new training requirements of the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council Rules and Regulations (§205-1-2-.07 and §205-1-3-.04) for 24 hours of training per year; the Oglethorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association provided the following training for calendar year 2016.

Date Place Topic Course Length

     19 March Training Center Scene Size Up and Initial Company Ops    4 Hours
     09 April Training Center SCBA Inspection and Use    8 Hours
     14 May Arnoldsville Ventilation    4 Hours
     11 June Training Center HazMat Awareness    8 Hours
     25 June Training Center Meth Lab Identification    4 Hours
16,17 July Training Center Rescue Specialist  16 Hours
     06 August Training Center Smoke Reading    4 Hours
24,25 September Training Center Crash Victim Extrication  16 Hours
     15 October Vesta Vehicle Fires    4 Hours
     19 November

Rec Department

Hose and Nozzles (David Bullard)
PPE Required
   4 Hours

     03 December

Morgan County
Training Center
Structure Fire Drill
PPE and SCBA Required
   6 Hours

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[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 03 November 2016]

County EMRs outfit van as emergency response vehicle

    An upgraded van recently joined the ranks of vehicles that can respond to emergencies in the county. The vehicle was outfitted by members of the Oglethorpe County Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) and will be used by them going forward.
    Tim LaFlam is the EMR coordinator for the county. Emergency Medical Responders are what were previously known as First Responders.
    The name was changed a few years ago for several reasons, including education and the broad nature of the term, according to LaFlam. EMR members provide pre-hospital care to patients on medical calls.
    Several months ago, an old van belonging to Oglethorpe County Rescue was given to the EMR program by Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency Director Douglas Spencer. LaFlam said he wasn't sure why the vehicle was originally purchased, because it didn't really fit Rescue's needs.
    Because of that, the unit sat unused for quite some time. Spencer and LaFlam met about the van earlier this year, and Spencer agreed to transfer it to the EMR.
    Since then, LaFlam and Dugh Bach have been working on converting the van so it can be used by the EMR. The vehicle was originally sold as basically a plumber's van, he noted.
    Everything in the van had to be fabricated to be converted into a medical unit. Over about four months, they outfitted the basics for maintaining a patient, including an automated external defribrillator (AED) unit, a fracture pack, and airway equipment, along with medical supplies.
    LaFlam said about $1,700 was spent on retrofitting the van. An additional $4,570 of donated labor and other materials were put into it as well.
    "It was intended for what we're doing with it, so it took us a while to get it ready, working on it in our spare time,: he added. Now, LaFlam said the vehicle is essentially a basic life support medical unit.
    "It's sole purpose is what is now written on the van," he said, "Community support and community driven."
    The vehicle will be stationed at every major community event from now on, LaFlam noted. It is also at every home football game at the Oglethorpe County High School.
    The Oglethorpe County EMS will also use the van when needed for medical calls. That will allow the advanced life support (ALS) medical unit to be freed up for more serious emergencies which might occur at the same time.
    The county currently has two ambulances that are in operation every day, and LaFlam said they are occasionally called out to incidents at the same time. In those cases, if response is needed for a third emergency, Oglethorpe has to call on a surrounding county to respond.
    Now, with the converted van, an EMR volunteer can respond to any call and maintain the patient on-scene until one of the county's medical units is able to get there. "It's a tremendously expanded role, and it prevents us from having to keep calling on other resources," LaFlam said.
    The EMR vehicle will also assist local fire departments when they respond to incidents. The unit will be on scene to provide care to any fire fighters who may need it.
    LaFlam emphasized that operating the van will not require any additional funds from the county or anyone else. EMR volunteers will man the vehicle whenever it is in use.
    He stated that anytime a group wished to have the EMR van at their community event, they could contact him or Oglethorpe County EMS Director Jason Lewis. "We're really looking forward to reaching out to the community so everybody can get a chance to see it," LaFlam said.
    LaFlam noted that the change in the volunteer program came with the "complete support" of Oglethorpe County Board of Commission Chair Billy Pittard and County Administrator Josh Hawkins, along with Lewis. They have seen the importance of the EMS program, and it feels good to have them backing us," he said.
    The training that is provided for EMR members is the same as what was orginally classified as basic EMT training. LaFlam said the education for EMR members has been increased so that volunteers can do even more than they could in the past as First Responders.
    He stated that EMR members do everything from trying to revive people who have stopped breathing to actually delivering babies on the scene, "and everything in between," LaFlam added. Though he pointed out that the work isn't for everyone, he said more volunteers are always need for those who want to give it a try.
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County firefighters are welcome to attend Smoke Drill training in Elbert County on 12 November and Live Fire training in Morgan County on 05 December. Both of these events are part of the Basic Firefighter with Live Fire course. Also, there will be training in hoses and nozzels for small departments on 19 November at the Recreation Department.

Central in now able to send text messages along with the normal pages, as long as a CAD report is being created. These texts include links to maps. Experience so far has been favorable. Contact Douglas Spencer to be added. Phone number and carrier are needed.

Elections were held for officers for the next two years. No nominations were offered from the floor, leaving Douglas Spencer as the President. Josh Tucker defeated Justin Sanders for Vice President and Christopher Owensby defeated Jehu Post for Secretary/Treasurer.
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Standard NFIRS Incident Numbers: The present reporting systems for incidents request entry of other departments who responded and the incident numbers that these departments have used for that incident. At present, each department has its own method to determine its incident number, so in order to accurately complete this section, departments must contact each other to discover what incident numbers each department has or will assign to the same incident.

After a discussion by Glenn Galau and Nancy Bryan, it was moved and approved that the following method will be used so that all departments can predict the incident number that will be used by any particular department.

A department's incident number will be what is now called the "Call #" at the top of the Oglethopre 911 Cad Call Card (the CAD report). This number is reported at the end of the short summary of each incident that is posted on the Incidents pages of the Association's website. It will be followed by a dash and the two-digit station number. Station numbers can be found in the left sidebar of the website. For instance, for the following incident reported on the 2016 Incidents page:

Friday, 30 September at 2:44 pm. EMS, EMR, Devils Pond VFD, Beaverdam VFD, Pleasant Hill VFD and the Sheriff's Office were sent to a Smithonia Road address upon report of a structure fire. The fire was confined to a deck and was extinguished without further loss. [CAD 2016-14638]

the incident numbers would be
14638-09 for the Devils Pond report
14638-10 for the Beaverdam report
14638-05 for the Pleasant Hill report

Nominations for 2017-2018 Association Officers Nominations were invited from the floor, to be voted on during the November meeting of the Association. Additional nominations from the floor will be welcomed immediately before that vote. According to the 2013 By-Laws, the President must be a Chief of a member fire department and the other three officers must by an officer (undefined by the By-Laws) of a member fire department. No Association officers may be from the same department.

It was moved and approved that the office of Secretary and Treasurer be combined, as has been the long-time custom of the Association.

For President: Douglas Spencer (Incumbant)
For Vice-President: Justin Sanders (Incumbant), Josh Tucker
For Secretary and Treasurer: Chris Owensby (Incumbant), Jehu Post
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Thirty-two county Volunteer Firefighters recently gave up their weekend to attend a sixteen-hour course on how to extricate patients from wrecked vehicles. Many of them have had earlier extrication training, but vehicle construction and composition is constantly changing and rescue training has to keep up with the resulting challenges in getting patients out of newer vehicles. Five of the fourteen fire departments have some rescue equipment on their trucks and there are two dedicated rescue vehicles at the EMS/Rescue Center.

Some of the students are already members of the Volunteer Rescue Department (Rescue) or the Volunteer Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) or the Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Unlike EMS, Volunteer County Firefighters, Rescue and EMR members are not paid for their training or the service they perform on incident calls.

The Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency coordinated the instruction. The excellent instruction was by Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) Instructors Barry Church and Mike Young. The classroom instruction on Saturday was kindly hosted by the Oglethorpe County Farm Bureau and the live practice was hosted on Sunday by Greg Gabriel.

Teams of students on Sunday systematically took apart six vehicles with hand tools, electrical reciprocal saws and hydraulic-powered tools such as spreaders (the Jaws of Life), cutters and rams. Many scenarios were presented and topics included: rescue team and patient safety; continued stabilization of the vehicle as parts are removed; selecting extraction techniques based on available tools, vehicle position and construction, and patient position and condition; and safe closeout of the incident.
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GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016
GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016
GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016
GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016   GEMA Vehicle Extrication Class; Oglethorpe County GA. September 24 2016

Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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The Oglethorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association recently started a Basic Volunteer Firefighter course for new firefighters. The description of the course, the schedule and supporting documents and forms are contained in the Training Packet. This course is identical to the 95-hour course which is taught at the Fire Academy at GPSTC in Forsyth GA.

Douglas Spencer is the lead instructor, with the assistance of Chad Harrell, Stacy Worley, Jay Post and Glenn Galau. Maxeys VFD is hosting many of the practical parts of the course.

The students are Christopher Blackwell of Vesta VFD, A.J. Wiles of Pleasant Hill VFD and Jonathan Moody and Noah Ray, both of Maxeys VFD.

On Monday, 19 September, the students were shown how to safely do tasks at night on the Maxeys rescue pumper and how to don Personal Protective Equipment.
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Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD   Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD   Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD
Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD   Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD   Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire; Oglethorpe County GA. September 19 2016 at Maxeys VFD

Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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The Lexington Baptist Church Lexington Baptist Church held a recognition luncheon on September 11 2016 honoring local first responders. This was on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The following is transcribed from the 15 September 2016 Edition of The Oglethorpe Echo:

911 remembered: Oglethorpe County First Responders Honored

   "Honoring Our Unsung Heroes" was the theme of a special day to remember the 15th Anniverary of the Terrorist Attacks and to Honor the more than 350 local First Responders in Oglethorpe County. The event was held at the Lexington Baptist Church.
   A large flag flying from the extended ladder of the Lexington Fire Truck with a sign stating "Remembering 9-11" was parked in the church parking lot greeting those who attended the day's events.
   The agencies honored included: Sheriff's Department, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Forestry Division, Community Emergency Response Team, Oglethorpe Emergency Management Services, Coroner's Office and the counties' 14 volunteer Fire Departments.
   The day included recognition of those present in the worship service, a specially prepared video presentation, a luncheon and program in the afternoon.
   Each guest was given a special "goodie bag" prepared by the children of Lexington Baptist Church. Those bags not given out on Sunday will be distributed to agencies across the county.
   The video included messages from local mayors, the Chairman of the County Commission, the church's pastor, Georgia Secretary of State Bryan Kemp, Governor Nathan Deal and Congressman Jody Hice. The video also included a tribute to the local agencies.
   A program was held during the afternoon with lunch provided for nearly 100 guests representing all of the agencies. The local chapter of the Woodmen of the World, under the direction of Lanier Burden, presented new flags to representatives of the 14 fire departments of the county.

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Four firefighters from Oglethorpe county attended courses at GPSTC. They were Charleen Foott and Glenn Galau from Wolfskin VFD and Douglas Spencer and Dale Jett from Vesta VFD.
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A 16-hour Rescue Specialist Course was offered at Oglethorpe County EMS/Rescue/Training Center at 892 Athens Road (Highway 78) in Crawford. It should count toward the 24 hours of Professional Development now required per year for maintaining Registration for Volunteer Firefighters.
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The Fire Association meeting was held at 7 pm on 12 July to accommodate holiday schedules. The meeting was moved to the Lexington Baptist Church (103 West Church Street, Lexington, 30648). The Church offered the Association the use of their Fellowship Hall at no cost.

The subject was the proposed development of an Association Fiscal Policy. Should the Association establish the scope and criteria for interacting with the Board of Commissioners (BOC) regarding their yearly contributions to the expenses of the fire departments beyond what has been required for the last few years? A history of the recent criteria for these distributions by the county is presented Below. At present, the Association collects individual budgets, conveys them to the BOC and distributes checks from the BOC to the departments under the rules imposed by Motion 3 approved by the Association during its March 2015 meeting. The recent distributions among the departments are based on the tax digests of the fire districts as of several years ago, not on the present tax digests or of the needs of the fire departments.

An Association Fiscal Policy would probably include rules regarding transparency, financial responsibility, and other fiscal matters for itself and for its departments. It would probably include how the Association should distribute money to the departments if it had that authority to do so. Criteria could include the number of calls responded to, time spent in training, or other metrics that may try to capture the needs and effectiveness of a department. Purchase of new equipment with county or county-generated grant funds, and its distribution, could also be an Association decision. This could result in the distribution of county funds and other assets among the departments based on criteria much different than are used at present.

At the meeting, County Manager Josh Hawkins asked for comments from each department. He asked that they speak to: 1) what they understood the objectives of a proposed fiscal policy to be; 2) what they thought would be good about it, if established, and 3) what they thought would be bad about it, if established. Most departments supported more cooperation and unity and were in favor of at least establishing a proposal that could be discussed by the Association. In order to ensure sufficient time for departmental comments, questions from the audience to department speakers were not allowed.

After these comments, a motion was proposed and seconded. The motion was that Douglas Spencer and Josh Hawkins were to select a committee to draft a proposal. The committee was to be comprised of one member of the Association and 5 or 6 members from the community. No time line was included, nor were there any further specifications about the committee members.

A roll-call vote resulted in all votes in favor of the motion. All departments cast two votes except for Pleasant Hill casting only one vote and Crawford not in attendance. Because Rescue is now funded by other money, it did not have a vote in this matter.
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Ken Pirkle and an assistant from Broadway Technologies spent Saturday reprogramming radios at the Training Center. One goal was to add back the ability to talk directly to Central 911 dispatch through our original transmission frequency. This would be useful if the repeater on the Fire Tower failed or otherwise could not be contacted. Ken also took orders for replacement parts and in some cases checked the performance of radios.
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The antenna for the Association radio repeater on the GA fire tower has been raised. This action was approved during the 03 May 2016 Association Meeting. Below are the before and after pictures.

Georgia Forestry Fire Tower, Oglethorpe County GA, April 30 2016    Georgia Forestry Fire Tower, Oglethorpe County GA, June 06 2016

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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


An eight-hour HazMat Awarness Course was offered at Oglethorpe County EMS/Rescue/Training Center at 892 Athens Road (Highway 78) in Crawford at 9 am on Saturday 11 June 2016. About ten Oglethorpe County firefighters attended as did several from other counties.
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


Much of the 07 June 2016 Association Meeting was a discussion regarding potential increases in the fiscal responsibility of the Association and how to formulate draft proposals on how to do it for the consideration by the Association.

The subject is hardly new or hidden, regardless of claims by the Chiefs of a few departments. The events of the March 2015 Association Meeting should have made it clear to the membership the direction that the BOC was taking at least 2.5 years ago. Part of that meeting included a unanimous agreement to Motion 3, which recognized a fundamental change in how, as early as 2014, the BOC paid the departments:

Motion 3: As of 2016, each department must submit its budget to the Association at or before its January Meeting. If that is done, then the County Contribution to that department will be available at the February Association Meeting. If that Contribution is not picked up by the department by the end of the March Association Meeting, the County Contribution will be forfeit.

In April 2015, the Association was informed of the distribution of equipment paid in part by or otherwise supported by the BOC through a newly-formed EMC. In August 2015, the Association cooperated with the GA Forestry Commission to purchase and distribute army trucks.

Most recently, as very accurately reported by The Oglethorpe Echo in its 05 May 2016 Edition (which was transcribed and reported here in these pages on about 09 May 2016), Chairman Billy Pitard reviewed the history of the funding formulas for the fire departments since about 2008. He proposed to the Board that the Association be given the responsibility of deciding how to distribute county funds to each department. This would require the Board approving a proposal by the Association, approved by its membership, on how to do so. No action was taken by the Board, but the informal response to Pitard's comments was positive.

Click Here for the submitted minutes.
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In response to requests made at the 07 June 2016 Association Meeting, on 17 June 2016 President Douglas Spencer sent the following to the some 57 email contacts in the usual Association email list. I have added links which I think are useful to document reality - Glenn Galau

Douglas Spencer's Email:

I was asked to provide a written statement explaining the events that lead to the proposal of a fiscal policy for the Fire Association.

In January of 2014, I provided a Strategic Plan for the Fire Association. Goal number three focused on funding.

The first task under this goal is to provide accountability for the county tax funds currently allocated to the Fire Association members. Individual departments had been submitting a budget directly to the Board of Commissioners (BOC), and receiving an allotment of funds usable by request and tracked by purchase orders in the BOC accounting system. This process was revised to allow individual departments to receive checks at the beginning of each calendar year from the BOC, again after submitting a budget. The Fire Association became the intermediary between the BOC and the individual fire departments specifically in the process of collecting budgets and distributing checks. Accountability continues to be hampered by departments not using the BOC provided budget template.

The third task is to develop capital expenditure estimates and a county wide budget. The objectives of the Association as listed in the By-Laws include recommend equipment and supplies and to assist in securing more and better equipment. To accomplish this task the Fire Association has representation on the Emergency Services Commission (ESC).

The ESC, consisting of Sheriff, Emergency Medical Service, Fire Association, Emergency Management, Forestry, Road Department and the Board of Commissioners, was setup to prioritize the needs and concerns across each county department. The group began a long term process to upgrade shared infrastructure, specifically radio and dispatching equipment. To date, the ESC has completed the purchase and installation of computer consoles and software to interface with radio equipment and received approval from the BOC to purchase new software and hardware to replace the current computer aided dispatch system. These actions were deemed critical, by the ESC, to improve reliability and interoperability among all emergency services in Oglethorpe County and surrounding areas.

In 2015 the ESC used Special Local Option Sales Tax funds to purchase limited amounts of equipment. Three thermal imagers were purchased and allocated through Oglethorpe County Rescue. The thermal imagers were provided to Crawford, Sandy Cross and Glade as noted in the April 2015 Association meeting summary posted online. [Also noted at that meeting was that ... a] breathing air compressor was also purchased in 2015 through Oglethorpe County Emergency Management with a grant from the Georgia Emergency Management for use by Fire Association members.

In light of these fiscal successes and with information provided in annual reports, which are posted online at www.oglethorpefirerescue.org [2014, 2015], the BOC in May 2016 endorsed the Fire Association to create a fiscal policy to provide structured accountability and continue capital improvements. It was mutually agreed by the BOC and myself that collective input from the Fire Association would provide a better mechanism for future funding modifications. It is important to remember, first, that nothing has yet changed - and cannot change without consensus from the Fire Association; second, that the BOC still holds ultimate authority for the distribution of tax funds.

I hope this clears up the issue and my intentions. A structured forum at the next Fire Association meeting will provide each member department the opportunity to speak, uninterrupted for two minutes, before the decision is made whether to move forward.

- Douglas Spencer
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Oglethorpe County Fire Rescue Icon


The Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Office led a training exercise on Thursday, 26 May 2016 at the Oglethorpe County Primary School. Its purpose was to test parts of the Oglethorpe County School System Emergency Preparedness Safety Plan, according to Douglas Spencer, Director of the Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). The EMA organizes at least one training event each year to test the ability of the many paid and volunteer staff of the county to respond to a variety of challenges at the individual, local, county and state levels.

This exercise focused on the interactions of the school staff and the Sheriff's Office. In a larger exercise or during a real incident of this type, a much larger response would be required, including traffic and crowd control, larger search teams, medical services for emergency responders and students, and extensive communications and protocols to unite students with their parents.

About 43 persons participated as part of the response of their county agencies, as formal observers for other agencies or as volunteer actors. Included were the Sheriff's Chief Deputy, the Superintendent of Schools with Central Office staff, school Principals and staff, school custodial staff, the Oglethorpe County Administrator, officers of the Emergency Management Agency and the Chief Ranger of the Georgia Forestry Commission. Also taking part in the exercise were members of the Oglethorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Oglethorpe County Emergency Medical Services (EMS), volunteer Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) and the volunteer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
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Exercise participants leave the Oglethorpe County Primary School after the end of the simulation.

Photo by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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As part of its weekly training sessions, on the second Thursday of the month Wolfskin VFD holds training sessions that count towards the 24 hours of Professional Development now required to maintain Registration status for Registered Volunteer Firefighters.

On 12 May 2016, five firefighters practiced various drafting techniques with the Wolfskin Engine 4 and Tanker 4. The final setup had the vacuum tanker drafting from Lake Oglethorpe with its vacuum pump and delivering that water to a drop tank with a discharge hose from its fire pump. The engine then drafted from the drop tank while supplying two attack lines with water.

The steamer connection on Engine 4 is fitted with a one-way, self-regulating, intake valve called a Pre-con Automatic Inlet Valve. If there is some water in the tank, the fire pump can draw water up a hard suction drafting hose through the Pre-con Valve with both the Tank to Pump valve open and the Tank Fill valve open. The primer pump is not required to obtain a prime.

Closing the Tank to Pump valve and with the Tank Fill valve still open or closed, the fire pump moves water from the drop tank directly to discharge. With the tank at 50% fill and the Tank Fill valve open, the engine drafted and discharged for at least eight minutes, without change in tank level, before the excercise was terminated.

If the water source is compromised, opening the Tank to Pump valve provides an alternative water source to maintain the discharge. The system is very similar to an engine being fed by a pressurized water source (hydrant or another engine) through the 2 1/2 inch intake connection.
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Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016   Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016   Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016
Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016   Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016   Wolfskin VFD Training, Drafting; Oglethorpe County Firefighters Association 12 May 2016

Photos by Glenn Galau
More photos are in the Photo Gallery

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Central 911 Dispatch and fire fighter radios have in the past both received and transmitted on the same single frequency. If the culture of Central was to always verbally repeat incoming transmissions (one of the three recognized steps in ensuring error-free verbal communication), a radio repeater would not be necessary. Sadly, that is not the case nor, from long experience, is it likely ever to be so. The objective of installing a radio repeater is to be able to hear fire fighter transmissions to Central 911 Dispatch.

The first radio repeater has been in place on the GA Forestry fire tower for about a month and many radios have been reprogrammed to use it. The radio was donated by the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department and it is state of the art. The present antenna for the radio repeater extends from about 65% to 85% of the height of the fire tower plus its cabin. That antenna was installed by the Association, not by the contractor, and was the heighest that could be safely accomplished by the volunteers who installed it.

The new programming of fire fighter radios changes only the transmission frequency of the radio's Channel 1, the Fire Dispatch Channel, to allow it to talk to the radio repeater. All radios, reprogammed or not, will still receive transmission from the radio repeater and Central 911 Fire Dispatch because both of these transmit using the original frequency of Channel 1.

The radio repeater is supposed to function as follows: 1) Radios transmit to the GA Forestry fire tower radio repeater on a new, unique frequency, the repeater
     frequency, on Channel 1.
2) The radio repeater receives on that frequency (no other radio receives that frequency).
3) The radio repeater boosts the signal and transmits it on the original Central 911 Fire Dispatch
     frequency to Central and all fire fighter radios.
4) Central 911 receives the signal, as do all radios, reprogrammed or not, because all still receive
     the original Fire Dispatch frequency on Channel 1.
Experience so far suggests that there are several areas in the county in which reprogrammed hand-held or apparatus radios do not reliably transmit to the fire tower repeater. The data are suspect in that the test radios were not recently tuned.

Ken Pirkle of Broadway Technologies, Inc., Pelser, South Carolina, our contractor, attended the regular monthly meeting on 03 May 2016. He had two alterative solutions to the apparent problem of poor reception by the fire tower radio repeater antenna: 1) Raise the present antenna several tens of feet to above the cabin on the fire tower. Ken dentified an
     individual who he believed could do this for a modest fee, perhaps including any changes in the
     mounting equipment to do so.
2) Install radio repeaters on other towers, as was originally intended.
Ken said that to do option 2 (multiple radio repeaters) would require either 1) Programing an additional channel for each repeater or 2) Construct a Voter Decision setup in which all radio repeaters communicate with each other via copper line, fiber optic line, or microwave link to decide which repeater would forward the transmission to Central and the county radios. Ken said that this would be complex, expensive and not certain to provide a reliable solution, but if successful would not require multiple channels to talk to Central, which channel to use being determined by the radio's location in the county.

A motion was approved, without dissent, to employ a professional to raise the antenna on the fire tower. It was understood that the function of the repeater would then be tested over the county with tuned radio or radios.
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Georgia Forestry Fire Tower, Oglethorpe County GA, April 30 2016


Most of the members of the Association's Executive Committee attended the regular meeting of the Oglethorpe County Board of Commissioners on Monday, 02 May 2016. President Douglas Spencer gave the Board a summary of the Association's activities for 2015 and objectives for 2016 and beyond. The PowerPoint slides are available as a pdf file Here.

Chairman Billy Pitard reviewed the history of the funding formulas for the fire departments since about 2008. He proposed to the Board that the Association be given the responsibility of deciding how to distribute county funds to each department. This would require the Board approving a proposal by the Association, approved by its membership, on how to do do. No action was taken by the Board, but the informal response to Pitard's comments was positive. Ralph Maxwell, Editor of The Oglethorpe Echo, gave his summary of the meeting on the Opinion page of the 05 May 2016 edition of the paper. A transcription of that article can be found Here.
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Oglethorpe BOC meeting, May 2 2016   Oglethorpe BOC meeting, May 2 2016

Photos by Glenn Galau
Larger photos are in the Photo Gallery

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Douglas Spencer taught several county volunteer firefighters an 8-hr course on the use of Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) at the Fire Fighter/Rescue Training Center in Crawford. Douglas is the county EMA director, President of the Oglethorpe County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association, Chief of Vesta VFD and an Instructor II for state emergency service organizations.

SCBAs have high pressure air cylinders which allow firefighters to work for 20 to 40 minutes in super-heated and toxic-air environments during search and rescue and offensive interior fire suppression. They are not easy to use, they must be correctly maintained, and there are many different models used in the county that make it difficult to confidently use another department's SCBA on the fire ground even with prior cross training as provided by this course.

Students and their volunteer fire departments included Stacy Worley and Michael Nelms from Crawford, Kevin Worley from Devils Pond, Christopher Owensby from Lexington, Glenn Galau from Wolfskin, David Huff from Pleasant Hill, Dale Jett and Nicole Spencer from Vesta, and Cody Post and Danny Hicks from Beaverdam.

Students were also trained in filling SCBA air cylinders at the County EMA building. It houses an air compressor with an attached cascade system that can fill both 2,100 psi and 4,500 psi cylinders. It was purchased about a year ago with $8,000 in FEMA funds and $8,000 in county funds. The county investment will pay for itself in a few years as departments use it instead of paying large bills for air and rental of cylinders from third parties.
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SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue
SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue
SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue
SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue   SCBA Training, 09 April 2016, Oglethorpe Fire and Rescue

Photos by Glenn Galau
More and larger photos are in the Photo Gallery

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John Hill died 31 March 2016. He was a veteran of the United States Army and was a chief of the Lexington Volunteer Fire Department. He was honored by the Lexington Fire Department who transported his flag-draped casket on its engine from the fire station to the site of the graveside service at the Clark Cemetery in Lexington.

Leading the Lexington engine were six apparatus from Lexington, Crawford, Beaverdam, Devils Pond and Wolfskin Volunteer Fire Departments. Many private vehicles followed at the end of the cortege. A large number of mourners were already at the site.
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Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill
Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill
Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill   Funeral Cortege for Former Lexington Volunteer Fire Department Chief John R. Hill

Photos by Glenn Galau
More and larger photos are in the Photo Gallery

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Douglas Spencer has prepared the 2015 Annual Report to The Board of Commissioners. It includes summaries of our 2015 incidents, apparatus, membership, accomplishments and goals. The contents were presented to the Board on 02 May 2016.
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Six county firefighters attended the 8-hour course, Pipeline Emergencies: Company Officer Tactics (PECOT). The course is described Here. It was held at the Athens Technical College - Elbert County Campus.
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Blake Beckhan from the Georgia State Fire Marshal's Office had a good news/bad news kind of presentation at the regular 01 March 2016 Association meeting.

So, the bad news first. If you (the fire department) do not report fire calls to the state, then the Chief of said fire department can face up to 5 years in jail and $1,000 a day in fines.

Good news - the state has paid for ImageTrend software to help make reporting easier.

The system is web based, so you will need to get online somewhere. Blake demonstrated a basic structure fire report in about 20 min. You can designate anyone you like to have access to the database to make the reports - one person can report for multiple departments. Although this law has been in place for a number of years; the state has allowed fire departments leniency; enforcement began 01 January 2016. So, you won't have to go back to previous years. (It would be a good idea though to complete 2015, especially if considering applying for a FEMA grant.)

Below is a link to a flyer that has details about ImageTrend and contains Blake's contact information. Click the image to save or view the pdf.

The best way to proceed is to email him and request a login and follow the instructions on the site for entering department details.

Blake Beckham, Georgia State Fire Marshal's Office
470 725 5722, bbeckham at fm.ga.gov

Other things of note from the meeting:
1) The association voted to reinstate Dues beginning in 2017 to cover the cost of equipment maintenance, equipment insurance and firefighter training. They will be $200 per member department paid at the March meeting. Payment of Dues will be a condition for voting as was done previously.

2) The equipment for the new fire repeater has been shipped. Any department that has not paid their $1,500 share should do so at the April 5th meeting or forfeit rights for using the new repeater.

3) Justin Sanders, Chief of Salem and Vice-president of the Association, displayed the remains of one of three medical oxygen cylinders that exploded during a recent structure fire.
-- Douglas Spencer
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Photos by Glenn Galau
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A brief review of the Fire Repeater saga includes authorization during the January 2015 meeting for the purchse of three repeaters, locations not defined because permisions had not yet been obtained. Permissions to use water towers of Maxeys, Arnoldsville and either Lexington or Crawford (in Sandy Cross) were to be sought later that month.

For a substantial fee, request for three repeater licences was subsequently sought from the FCC. During the FCC review of the application, a mistake in an earlier licence application was discovered in the location of the transmission tower at the EMS/Training/Rescue Facility. This caused a substantial delay in processing the request of the three licences, but it was eventually granted.

It was then suggested to use the Fire Tower at the GA Forestry Station. Permission was granted and a computer prediction of coverage from that tower alone was produced by the contractor from wattage of the transmitter, the height of the prospective repeater on the Fire Tower and topo data of the area. It is reproduced below (click the image to view the full-scale image): the black outline being a crude approximation of the county boundaries; green being full coverage; yellow being marginal coverage; and white being no coverage.

Radio Coverage using the GA Forestry Fire Tower; Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue

The predicted coverage by this single repeater was said to be at least as good as that predicted by having the combination of three repeaters in Arnoldsville, Maxeys and Sandy Cross, for which permission had been granted. Documentation of this claim is not in hand. However, the frequencies granted by the FCC would interfere with the GA Forestry frequency already in use on the tower. Consequently, for another cost of somewhat less than one thousand dollars, a modification of the request to the FCC was made to obtain a frequency that could be used on the Fire Tower. This has been granted.

In summary, the Association has three licences and four authorized sites. Two of these sites, Arnoldsville and the Fire Tower, already had their own power paid for by their owners and there would be no monthly operating costs to the Association. The other two sites, Maxeys and Sandy Cross, would have monthly power costs. If any of the licences have not been used within one year of their granting by the FCC, they are lost. Finally, in any area of the county were the repeater(s) is/are ineffective, one can always switch back to the present Central 911 Fire frequency, the performance of which would not be affected by use of the repeater(s). That is, we will not lose our present capability with the use of the repeater(s).

A motion was proposed to pursue installation of a repeater at both the Fire Tower and at Arnoldsville. It was understood that both repeaters would be functional and that the Arnoldsville repeater by itself would probably not well serve the eastern and southern parts of the county but it would function as a partial backup of the Fire Tower repeater should it fail. A quorum was present and the motion passed without dissent.
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To continue as a registered Volunteer Firefighter (both Suppresive and Support), each year the firefighter will have to complete at least 24 hours of 'professional development'. To aid departments who do not now conduct that number of hours of such training, the Association plans to sponsor at least 30 hr of county-wide training that qualifies, and coordinate with other agencies to provide opportunities for additional hours. The intent is that any firefighter in the county will be able to complete the required 24 hours from a menu of departmental, county and extra-county courses.
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A draft of the summary of the number and type of incidents calls for 2015 from the 2015 Incidents Page is reproduced below. A full taxonomy of the calls is available as 2015 Incident Summary.

Department Number

Crawford 75
Arnoldsville 72
Beaverdam 63
Devils Pond 46
Lexington 45
Rescue 41
Pleasant Hill 41
Sandy Cross 41
Salem 35
Glade 31
Vesta 31
GA Forestry 27
Wolfskin 26
Wesley Chapel 23
Maxeys 22
Philomath 9
Winterville 6
Comer 1

Total Calls & Responses 635
Total Incidents 256
Total Coded Incidents 268


Primary Incident Type Number   Lower Level Type Number

Fire 105   Brush 50
      Structure 33
      Vehicle 22
Vehicle Accident 55   Standby/Traffic Control 47
      Extrication 8
      [Vehicle Fire 1]
False Alarm 45   Fire or Smoke Alarm 14
      Brush Fire 12
      Structure Fire 6
      Vehicle Accident 5
      Other 5
      Smoke 3
Roadway Hazard 33   Tree Debris 17
      Power Line 9
      Flood 7
Safety Check 16   Possible Fire 14
      Chemical Fumes 2
Medical (Non-Vehicle) 7   Type Not Reported 3
      Injury 3
      Coroner 1
Rescue 4   Rescue 2
      Search and Rescue 2
Good Neighbor 3   Restoration Run 1
      Road Cleaning 1
      Transport through Flood 1

Total Incidents 268     268

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After at least six inches of rain falling across the county in the prior ten days, an additional five to six inches of rain fell on Wednesday, 30 December, with most of that before midafternoon. This led to severe flooding of many roads and the overtopping of several bridges, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the county. There were also reports of several structures hit by lightning. Along with other county units and volunteers, volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel protected and rescued motorists and residents.

There were several articles and photos, an editor's comment and a letter to the editor in the 07 January 2016 Edition of The Ogletorpe Echo. The following is a transcription of one of the articles.

Just grateful flooding wasn't worse

    The severe rain and flooding that inundated Oglethorpe County last Wednesday kept many county workers, emergency personnel, and volunteers busy throughout the day.
    Oglethopre County Emergency Management Agency Director Douglas Spencer said the weather was unlike anything the area has experienced in a long time.
    He said, "We haven't seen rain like that in probably 10 years, and even then, it was spread out. The intensity of the rainfall last week in such a short period of time had such an impact because of the runoff it created, which started causing all of the problems."
    Spencer is also the president of the Oglethorpe County Firefighter's Association. As his regular job, he works for a company that exclusively markets the hydropower that is built and operated by the Georgia Corps of Engineers, so he keeps track of the rain patterns throughout the year.
    About lunchtime on Wednesday, Spencer got a call about a pond on Bill Cowart's property tht had failed and was causing an "imminent danger" to the bridge on Centerville Road. Because a paved road was being threatened, Spencer had to report it to the state.
    He then took the rest of the afternoon off work to be in Oglethorpe to monitor the rest of the day's events. Spencer inspected various other bridges around the county and made reports about them as well, "but you can't do much about while it's still flooded," he noted.
    Later that night, he drove around the county again with some of the rescue personnel to double-check some of the earlier issues. "Fortunately, the water was starting to recede by that point. Otherwise we would have had more significant issues if we'd had standing water at night, which is a huge problem." he said.
    During the day, the local 911 received a call that a home on Grove Creek Road was starting to flood, but the family was unable to leave because the road was also flooded. Spencer said sheriff's deputies and other personnel were also unable to reach the house because of the flooding.
    It was perfect timing as far as county response capabilities, because a few months ago, the county acquired some surplus Army trucks. We planned to set them up to be used in different capacities, such as emergency situations like this," Spencer said.
    He noted that the original intent was for the trucks to be able to ford some of the creeks in the county, such as on Ruffs Road and Arnold Caldwell Road. One of the trucks went to the Glade Volunteer Fire Department, and they had just finished setting the vehicle up to go into service when needed, Spencer said.
    The military truck turned out to be exactly what was needed for the situation last Wednesday. The department responded to the home on Grove Creek Road and evacuated six family members, along with several pets, to safety. [See the Photo below.]
    Spencer was told that the house did not suffer any major damage from the flooding. Once the waters receded enough for the road to be passable again by regular vehicles, the family returned to their home.
    He echoed Oglethorpe County Board of Commissioner Chair Billy Pittard's praise for the response from county employees and emergency personnel through the day last week. Spencer said a number of volunteer firefighters responded to various calls on Wednesday, while others helped survey roads or actually blocked them off when the road department ran out of barricades.
    Specer is officially a member of the Vesta Volunteer Fire Department. However, he responds to almost every fire department call, especially if its a more significant issue such as a working structure fire or an emergency situation like last week.
    "I think all in all, it went pretty well," Spencer said. "We had the usual communication issues and confusion at times, but we were still able to get people where they needed to be and get everything done."
    Pittard wished to use last week's events to especially thank Spencer for his work with the county. He said, "Whether it's with the fire departments, local roads, first responders, I can't say enough about what Douglas does. He gets paid a little bit of money, but it's not a dollar an hour compared to what he puts in."
    He continued, "His effort is just absolutely amazing. Not only is he willing to help and get involved, but he's very competetent, and he's going to do the right thing. He's a wonderful individual and a tremendous asset to the county, and I probably don't tell him thank you enough."
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Among many other responses by Volunteer Fire Departments and Rescue to incidents in the county, Glade VFD responded to a flooding home on Grove Creek Road and evacuated to safety six family members, many dogs and two cats. See summaries of the day's events at the end of the 2015 Incidents Page.

The image below is a view from the Glade VFD 6x6 Army vehicle during the Grove Creek Road rescue. Photo by Wesley Chapel Chief Tommy Paul. Thanks to James Burt. The picture is said not to do the situation justice! This photo was not published by The Oglethorpe Echo.

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Staff from the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council (GFSTC) inspected the County Fire Departments during the afternoon of 15 December 2015. All departments passed inspection and received new Certificates of Compliance.

The staff held an information session that evening at 7 pm at the Oglethorpe County Farm Bureau. The main subject was a summary of upcoming changes to the Rules and Regulations for Georgia fire departments and fire service personnel but most of the time was spent in discussion of present Rules that are not at issue. Our departments are unaware of several of the present Rules and Regulations that were established in 1975 and possibly modified later. The primary challenge for our departments is to understand and comply with the Rules, regardless of when they were established.

Attending the informational meeting from GFSTC were: Gordon Henderson, Executive Director (Office 478 993 4521, Cell 706 766 4260, Fax 478 993 4511, ghenderson at gfstconline.org)

Britt Brinson, Public Safety Training Manager II (Office 478 993 4517, Cell 229 942 3294, Fax 478 993 4511, bbrinson at gfstconline.org)

Mike Hancock, Public Safety Training Manager (Office 478 993 4681, Cell 678 859 4329, Fax 478 993 4511, mhancock at gfstconline.org)
Regarding Rules and Regulations, the agency website leaves much to be desired. One could use stronger, and more accurate, descriptions of its deficiences and how it does not meet minimum expectations of a state organization. Clicking through the 'Rules' tab takes you to the 'Current Rules' Page. It contains only two documents without any history, explanations or executive summary as to their meaning. There is some information on the website's Homepage that suggests a recent history.

The first document, entitled Proposed Draft Rules with Strike Through.pdf, is an annotated copy of the present Rules and Regulations. These Rules date from 01 January 1975 and apparently have not been changed in the subsequent 41 years (although undocumented verbal statements indicate that it was in fact revised in 2013). A copy of this document, downloaded on 19 December 2015 and with the addition of page numbers not visible on the web version, is available Here. The annotations indicate the proposed changes to the 1975 Rules, revised on 30 July 2015. There was at least one earlier proposal but it is not available on the website. Proposed deletions are indicated by black font strike through
Proposed additions are indicated by red font
Earlier proposed additions subsequently withdrawn are indicated by red font with red font strike through
The meaning of the single instance of blue font is not obvious
The second document is entitled Proposed rules.pdf. It is a summary of the high points of the 1975 Rules and proposed changes and is dated 30 June 2015. A copy of this document, downloaded on 19 December 2015, is available Here. The document is not a Summary of the 30 July 2015 version of the Proposed Draft Rules with Strike Through.pdf (the first document described above) but rather a summary of an earlier version of the Proposed Draft Rules. Do not bother to look at this second document.

A more recent version of the Proposed rules.pdf was distributed at the 15 December 2015 meeting. It appears to be a Summary of the 30 July 2015 Proposed Draft Rules with Strike Through.pdf although it is still dated as the 30 June 2015 version. This document is not on the website.

The following presentation of the present and proposed Rules is based on: the putative 30 July 2015 version of the Proposed rules.pdf that was handed out; the downloaded and paginated Proposed Draft Rules with Strike Through.pdf; and comments made at the 15 December 2015 meeting. Quotations with line numbers are from the Proposed Draft Rules with Strike Through.pdf.

Background Checks (GCIC and/or NCIC) for all New Appointments after a date not yet decided
817         (c) Not have been convicted of a felony in any jurisdiction within ten years prior to
818               appointment (except as provided in O.C.G.A. §25-4-8).*
819               1. For registration of volunteer personnel, original or certified copies of the original
820                   criminal history search made of local and state databases to disclose any criminal
821                   record.

824               3. It is recommended that a search of national criminal information databases be
825                   conducted on all applicants in addition to the local and state search.
826               4. Criminal history documents used to determine eligibility for fire service personnel
827                   must be current.

836         (d) Have a good moral character as determined by investigation of the criminal history of the
837               candidate to verify that there are no recent patterns of criminal involvement or intent
838               related to stealing, cheating, lying, or other offenses that may indicate a disregard for the
839               law or ethical and moral conduct.

Fire Departments Must Register their Appointed Personnel with GFSTC
767   205-1-3-.02 Registration
768   (1) All active fire service personnel, except civilian personnel, must be registered with GFSTC.
769   (2) All members of any fire department operating in the State of Georgia must be registered with
770         GFSTC immediately upon appointment with the fire department. As of the approval date for
771         this document [unknown?], within 30 days the fire department shall review its roster and ensure that all
772         personnel are registered in the GFSTC database. If personnel are already in the database, the
773         department may correct the roster electronically on the GFSTC website or may submit a
774         Candidate Initial Registration form for all members not currently in the GFSTC database.
775         The registration process is not completed until a Registration or Certification Application
776         form is submitted for each individual to GFSTC.
777         (a) The fire department shall verify the status of all fire service personnel on their roster in
778               the GFSTC database as assigned to one of the following categories:.
779               1. C - Career Firefighter
780               2. P - Part-Time Firefighter
781               3. V - Volunteer Suppression Firefighter
782               4. S - Volunteer Support Firefighter
783               5. I - Inmate Firefighter
784               6. R - Recruit
785               7. O - Student in Technical College/Private School

840   (3) To complete requirements for registration of volunteer fire service personnel, the fire
841         department shall complete, and maintain for on-site review, a Volunteer Registration
842         Package and complete and submit the Volunteer Registration Application.

One Year to complete Training after Appointment to a Fire Department
870   (4) Regardless of out of state certifications held by candidates, the Georgia Firefighter Standards
871         and Training Council requires firefighters be tested for Volunteer Support, Volunteer
872         Suppression Firefighter, or State Certified Firefighter. Upon As a condition of appointment /
873         or employment Registration or Certification, candidates have one year from the initial of
874         hire or appointment date to complete the required training and test with the GFSTC.

Structure Fire Control Training required for Registration of Volunteer Suppression Firefighters
1219        (c) A Volunteer Suppression Firefighter shall be required to be trained to the minimum level
1220             of Volunteer Suppression Firefighter to include live structure fire control training within
1221             one year of appointment to be in compliance with O.C.G.A. §25-4-9 and Rules &
1222             Regulations of the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council.
1223             1. Structure fire control training:
1224                 a. Volunteer fire service personnel registered as Volunteer Suppression Firefighters
1225                     since July 1, 2005 shall successfully complete a Structure Fire Control class as
1226                     approved by the Council.

Annual Training Requirement for Continued Registration of Volunteer Firefighters
1262       (g) Volunteer fire service personnel shall meet requirements to continue their status each
1263             calendar year following the year of registration:
1264             1. Records shall be developed, maintained, and available for review by GFSTC at the
1265                 local department. The professional development shall consist of:
1266                 a. Successful completion of a total of 24 hours of professional development each
1267                     year as approved by the Fire Chief is required for maintenance of
1268                     registration/certification(s).
1269                 b. "Professional Development" means training that meets a national or state standard,
1270                     or addresses a specific area of local service delivery (this does not include daily
1271                     duties such as maintenance, territory study, equipment checks, etc., unless it is
1272                     for a recruit or probationary personnel) and performed in a classroom, at a
1273                     conference, a drill field setting, etc. with instruction by an individual deemed to
1274                     be qualified by the fire chief. Such hours may be credited toward the
1275                     maintenance of registration/certification(s) as approved by the Council.
1276             2. Documentation of this training shall include the subject, date, time, description of the
1277                 training, objectives of the course, and signatures of students and instructors.

At Least Four Volunteer Suppression Firefighters per Fire Department
468         (c) Be Staffed with a minimum number of trained Volunteer Suppression or State Certified
469              Firefighters who have successfully completed basic firefighter training as specified by
470              the Council.
471              1. Minimum Staffing shall be four (4) Volunteer Suppression or State Certified
472                  firefighters per station. An average of six (6) members per station, of which 2 of the
473                  6 may be Volunteer Support Firefighters, is recommended. The minimum number of
474                  firefighters will be calculated as an aggregate total for the entire department.

NFIRS Fire Reports and Training Reports are required for continued Compliance of a Department
512   (7) Documentation from the Safety Fire Division of the Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire
513         Commissioner indicating that the fire department is, and remains, in compliance with the
514         reporting requirements for fires by of the state law as specified in O.C.G.A. §25-2-
515         32(b) and provided for by §25-3-24.

662   205-1-2-.07 Training Records and Reports
663   (1) The fire department shall maintain required records which can be made available to GFSTC
664         Staff upon request for the purpose of records review.
665   (2) The fire department shall submit an end-of-year training report to GFSTC confirming that all
666         personnel have met minimum training requirements as established by the Council.

At Least Four SCBA per First-Out Apparatus
538         (d) Four (4) self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) Self-contained breathing
539               apparatus to allow for each on-scene Firefighter to safely perform the duties of a
540               Firefighter while engaged in emergency operations
in accordance with the general
541               criteria of NFPA 1981, Standard on Open Circuit Self-Contained Breathing
542               Apparatus (SCBA) for Emergency Services
543         (e) One (1) spare SCBA cylinder for each SCBA carried

On 04 January 2016, Association President Douglas Spencer distributed a copy of the 2016 GFSTC Rules.pdf approved by GFSTC on 10 November 2015 with an effective date of 01 January 2016. This document is not yet on the GFSTC website as of 07 January 2016. We have not yet compared the various documents to discover which proposed changes in the rules were actually approved, but until then we presume from the visit from GFSTC that they were all approved.
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The Salem Volunteer Fire Department hosted a Basic Volunteer Firefighter with Live Fire Course, which certifies students as Registered Volunteer Firefighters. The class met evenings Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and during the day on some Saturdays. The text was Essentials of Fire Fighting and Fire Department Operations (6th Edition). Douglas Spencer was the instructor. Three firefighters took the course. They were Tyler Dickens and Darrius Tompkins of Salem and Kelly Huff of Sandy Cross.
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Volunteers from Sandy Cross and Salem completed their Registered Volunteer Firefighter training with a live fire exercise in Morgan County on 05 December 2015. They are shown here with some of the Madison Fire Department staff who conducted the training. From left to right are Gene Porter of the Madison Fire Department, who served as Proctor, Tyler Dickens and Darrius Tompkins of Salem, Kelly Huff of Sandy Cross, and three other members of the Madison Fire Department.

Photo by Douglas Spencer
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03 DECEMBER 2015

The Spencers were recently profiled by The UGA Grady School of Journalism Blog GRADY/NEWSOURCE. The article includes a short video.

Douglas is President of the Oglthorpe County Volunteer Firefighters Association, Director of the Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Chief of the Vesta Fire Department and an EMR Volunteer. His wife, Nicole, is a member of the Vesta Fire Department and also an EMR Volunteer.

Photo by Scott Thaxton
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The web site for fire departments is ISO Mitigation. Although our speaker did not mention it, there has been rebranding at ISO. What used to be called an ISO Rating or ISO Class is now a 'Public Protection Classification (PPC)'. The comprehensive description of the criteria used to determine a PPC is still called the 'Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS)', but there has been a revision of it. A 15-page summary of the changes in the FSRS, called a Rules Filing was filed with state departments of insurance in December 2012 with a target date of implementation of July 2014.

Fire Chiefs can get a free copy of the entire new Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, which otherwise costs $ 100. We urge our Fire Chiefs to do so. Step one is to register on Fire Chiefs Online. Step two is to go to the Obtaining FSRS and BCEGS Documents Page, which apparently will load only if you are registered, to obtain the document.

The FSRS landing page provides entry to pages devoted to a variety of subjects. According to one of them, Items Considered in the FSRS, there are now five components to determining an ISO / PPC Rating: Emergency Communications (10 Points); Fire Department (50 Points); Water Supply (40 Points); and the new components, Community Risk Reduction (5.5 Points) and Divergence (Reduction in total Points when Points for the other components are wildly divergent of each other) for a total of 105.5 Points.

Jared Harris, Field Representative, Community Hazard Mitigation, Insurance Services Office (ISO) talked to the Association meeting about how ISO ratings are done under the new rating system. He can be contacted at jharris at iso.com. Jared concentrated on water supply. For most of the county, this would be 'hauled water' rather than hydrants, and how its distance to the incident and the capabilities of the fire departments impact the points awarded under the Water Supply component.

Not having yet seen the new FSRS but only various summaries of it, the following comments are only tentative. 1) For the Fire Department and Water Supply components, the personnel, engines and tankers from automatic aid departments can usually be counted.
2) Important is the time from Alarm to flowing 250 gal/min on scene.
3) Total time of flow at 250 gal/min may have been reduced from 2 hr (30,000 gal) to 1 hr (15,000 gal) for single-family dwellings.
4) Drop tank setup time and fill and dump times must be documented for each apparatus.
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There was an interdepartmental training meeting on Saturday 15 August 2015 at 6:00 pm at the Beaverdam Volunteer Fire Department. Association Training Officer Stacy Worley organized the event. Steven Bray of Arnoldsville and Rockdale County and Jay Post of Beaverdam were instrumental in the training event. Beaverdam provided the space and had long ago constructed a simulation of the corridor and window that was required of the training.

The subject was the Denver Drill. After failure of extensive efforts to get a downed Denver firefighter out a window at the end of a very narrow corridor, resulting in the death of that firefighter, subsequent trials developed methods to do it. The subject firefighter was found on his stomach, head towards the window.

In the original method, two rescue firefighters are required. They drag the subject far enough away from the window to allow one firefighter to climb over the subject to seat himself on the floor and against the window wall, his legs on either side of the subject. The two firefighters then turn the subject over so that he is on his back with his BA on the floor. The window-side firefighter uses his arms to drag the subject by his BA harness up on top of his own legs and body with the help of the foot-side firefighter. The two firefighters then elevate the subject and move him forward so that other firefighters outside the window can grap and drag him out the window. In our attempt to use this method, all of these steps were very difficult even in only moderately hot weather without smoke or hot gases, and not having to breath in BAs. The original foot-side firefighter in our exercise became exhausted and went into rehab. He was replaced by another firefighter who was able to complete the exercise.

There are several modifications of this method which are claimed to be easier. In the modification tried during the training event, firefighters outside the window inserted a narrow, collapsible, ladder into the corridor through the window. A single rescue firefighter positions the subject at least partway up the firefighter's end of the ladder. Here, it was by turning the subject over and dragging him up the ladder only as far as required to use the fittings on the subject's BA air cylinder to anchor the subject to the end of the ladder. Extraction then required the rescue firefighter to lift and push his end of the ladder with the aid of the exterior firefighters pulling their end of the ladder down and out. Still very demanding but not nearly as demanding as was the orginal method.

In discussion afterward, it was agreed that it was very unlikely that this exact circumstance would be faced by county firefighters, but elements of its solutions were of more general use. In particular: how to convert a BA harness into a body harness to drag out a downed firefighter; use of a collapsible ladder as a rescue tool; and how to rotate and elevate bodies.
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Following the orginal Denver Drill, two firefighters position themselves on each end of the downed subject, rotate him so his BA is towards the floor, and then postiion him on top of the window-side firefighter. Finally, they elevate the subject towards the window where outside firefighterfires pull him out.

In the first photo in the second row above, the three firefighters in the corridor are, from front to back, A.J. Wiles (Pleasant Hill and Beaverdam), Cody Townsend (Beaverdam) and Steven Bray (Arnoldsville and Rockdale County). Looking from above, from left to right, are Charleen Foott (Wolfskin), Stacy Worley (Crawford), Jay Post (Beaverdam), Kevin Worley (Crawford and Devils Pond) and Michael Nelms (Crawford).

In the ladder method, a ladder was inserted from the outside and one rescue firefighter positioned the subject on the end of it. Show above is the extraction of the subject by moving the ladder out of the window.

In the last photo of the first row above, from left to right, are Cody Townsend, Joel Harvey (Beaverdam and Athens-Clarke County), Michael Nelms, Steven Bray, A.J. Wiles and Kevin Worley.

Photos by Glenn Galau. Larger images are in the Photo Gallery
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Several firefighters recently took a trip to Hunter Army Air Field near Savannah, GA to retrieve surplus Army trucks. The trucks have been transferred to the fire departments through a cooperative program with the Georgia Forestry Commission. The program allows local volunteer departments access to federal surplus property that can be used for fire defense or disaster response. These trucks will be outfitted with water tanks and used for brush fires and to shuttle water in areas without hydrants. Pictured left to right: Nicole Spencer (Vesta), Greg Gabriel (Arnoldsville), Jehu Post (Beaverdam), Jesse Carter (Arnoldsville), Josh Tucker (Glade), Mike Eidson (Arnoldsville) and Dale Jett (Vesta). Association President Douglas Spencer also participated.
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Photo by Douglas Spencer. A larger image is in the Photo Gallery
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Presiding Officer Vice-President Justin Sanders directed the 04 August 2015 Association Meeting. The major items of business were deciding on the use of the upcoming repeater frequencies by EMR, signing of a document concerning radio frequencies, and discussion of a document designed to satisfy ISO of existing automatic and mutual aid agreements between county fire departments.

EMR and Third EMS Outcall pages are presently paged out on the fire department radio channel. Subsequent radio traffic between EMR members and EMS (their parent organization) is normally on the EMS channel and do not use the fire department channel.

With activation of the new repeater firefighter frequencies, representatives of EMS and EMR at the meeting requested that they have access to those frequencies, essentially so that EMR members, most of whom are both firefighters and EMR responders, need attend to only one rather than two channels to recieve pages for both their responsibilities. That is, the present situation would continue unchanged upon activation of the firefighter repeaters.

Two motions were proposed and both were approved by a quorum of seven fire departments and Rescue that was present. Under the first motion, EMR will have access to the repeater frequencies, thereby effectively maintaining the present system of paging EMR on the firefighter channel with subsequent radio traffic expected to be on the EMS channel except for exceptional circumstances.

Under the second motion, EMR will not be required to contribute the one-time $ 1,500 toward establishing the repeater system that is required from 13 of the fire departments and from Rescue (of the fiveteen fire departments and Rescue, GA Forestry is exempt and Lexington is contributing in kind rather than in cash). Because one fire department has yet to make their contribution and because of this will not have access to the frequencies and possibly not be able to be paged at all, there was a lengthly discussion about the second motion prior to its passage. It was generally agreed that, because their very limited use of repeater frequencies for only paging would allow EMR members to better serve their responsibilites to the county citizens in both their firefighter and EMR roles, no charge would be required from their parental EMS organization. Furthermore, this decision was thought to have no real or potential implications regarding the expectations for the hold-out fire department.

ISO has requested automatic aid agreements of the fire departments covering at least one address in Oglethorpe County. A draft of a legal document was offered that was designed to comply with that request. It was noted that it was very similar in intent to one that was signed many years ago (records not available) and that the present draft document addressed only mutual aid agreements, not any general or particular automatic aid agreements. Furthermore, automatic assignments of the three fire departments to a particular address is determined by Central 911 Dispatch, most often by assignments in its MSAG (see Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue Stations for details), that assignment is not necessarily authorized by its listed departments, and in any event these assignments are not easily condensed into a general document. Further consideration of the document was tabled.
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Arnoldsville VFD held a training session on vehicle fire suppression on Wednesday evening, 01 July 2015, open to all county emergency service organizations. Twelve firefighters attended. It was hosted by Greg Gabriel and instruction was provided by Rescue Captain, Arnoldsville VFD and EMR member Jesse Carter.

The subject was the use of foam in suppressing vehicle fires. There are various types of foam ranging from no bubbles at all to those similar to shaving cream. The surfactants in weaker types of foam improve the penetrating power of the stream. The bubbles in the stronger types of foam can cling to vertical surfaces and better protect or extinguish exposures. In general, foam streams require much less water for fire suppression and can produce novel protective effects.

A car was set on fire and then mostly extinguished with a conventional attack line. After allowing the fire to rebuild, it was again suppressed using a Wolfskin VFD-provided Scotty Fast Foam Applicator/Foam Gun rated for 50 gal per min (Scotty Number 4010-50; about $ 220-270) which uses a 12 inch in-line solid surfactant cylinder to produce a 'foam solution' which is a clear to milky fluid which is mostly water and without bubble structure. Its major advantages are that it can be stored preassembled with a foam stick and very rapidly exchanged with the conventional nozzle on a preconnect attack line and it produces similar foam solutions regardless of flow rate. Its disadvantages are that it cannot produce stronger and dryer types of foam and its optimum flow rate may be somewhat lower than expected by firefighters not familiar with foam systems.

While the fire was again allowed to rebuild, a more conventional foam system was assembled using a liquid foam concentrate and an eductor to add it to the stream of an attack line. These components are stored on most engines in the county. Here, the combination of the particular type of concentrate, the eductor-produced mixing ratio and the nozzle type produced a stream that was between a 'foam solution' and a 'wet foam' which has small to large bubbles but is still mostly water and lacks body. This method has the advantage of being able to produce stronger and dryer types of foam, within limits imposed by the type of concentrate, eductor settings and type of nozzle. Its disadvantage is that it takes time to set up, requires breaking the attack line to insert it and requires high flow rates to bring the concentrate into the stream.

As expected, both types of foam production proved to be superior to just water alone. The Foam Gun was more efficient than the eductor system in terms of time to assemble and possibly the use of water. It is also less expensive to use.

Finally, the eductor attack line and a conventional attack line were both used to completely extinguish the fire just before a heavy thunderstorm broke.

The vehicle, Tim Faust setting it alight after using an accelerant and signs of a successful ignition

Vehicle on fire and its partial suppression by Jesse Carter using a conventional stream

Jesse Carter, Tim Faust and an Arnoldsville firefighter assemble the Foam Gun and Michael Nelms of EMS and Crawford VFD uses it to almost extinguish the fire. In the lower left photo, George Gabriel gives advice to Michael Nelms. In the last photo, a discussion between Jesse Carter, Michael Nelms and Douglas Spencer of what had just been accomplished

Tim Faust, George Gabriel and an Arnoldsville firefighter assemble the eductor system of foam production under Jesse Carter's direction. Jesse Carter and Michael Nelms uses its stream to suppress the fire and then they use both it and a conventional stream to put it out

Photos by Glenn Galau. More and larger images are in the Photo Gallery
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A Landing Zone Safety Class was held at the Oglethorpe County Library. Association Training Officer Stacy Worley organized the event. About twenty members of the EMS, EMR and fire departments attended the 2.5 hour discussion of helicopter medivac protocols, landing zone setup and patient loading. An excellent introduction to landing zones and safety around an operating helicopter.

The discussion leader was Joe Pardue RN, EMTP. He is a staff member of AirLife GA 10 which flies out of Thomson Georgia and is operated by Air Methods.

There was discussion of when and to where to fly patients. Joe related several stories related to this topic. He assured the class that insurance companies prefered to pay for transport for time-critical patients because it was less expensive to have rapid and correct treatment at a competent center compared to what was likely to result at a local hospital. In response to questions as to where to fly patients with particular conditions, Joe gave general guidelines and directed our staff to guidelines by professional societies, but left it to ourselves to learn which centers are best for particular conditions. He noted that not all trama centers of a particular level are equal. Learn about the capabilities of those to which our patients might be transported in order to make truely informed choices when choices can be made.

When choosing where to place a landing zone, Joe said that they would like to have at least a 100 ft by 100 ft landing zone. Its perimeters may be marked by several methods to be visible from the air. For instance, firefighters at night can have two vehicles at adjacent corners of the square, each pointed at its center, so the cross of the two sets of headlights at least marks the center of the landing zone. The pilots use military-grade night-vision goggles and can detect objects with diffent heat signatures. Joe said that they prefer two-lane, paved, country roads even though they are less wide than 100 feet wide. Apparently they are more predictable then sites such as fields.

The landing zone may contain obstructions or be near obstructions as long as these are clearly evident to the pilot. To determine if there are obstructions, at the center of a potential landing zone hold one's hand at a 45 degree angle and rotate around. Anything above one's hand is likely to be an obstruction. Park a vehicle under any nearby overhead electrical wires; no pilot would attempt to land on top of a vehicle. Otherwise try to mark these obstructions so they may be seen from the air.

When choosing a potential landing zone, also consider that helicopter pilots prefer to land and take off into the wind. Indicate to yourself and the pilot the direction and strength of the wind with several feet of flagging tape or scene tape attached to an antenna or a hand tool driven into the ground or held erect by a firefighter.

Secure the landing zone. Prevent any unauthorized entry by bystanders or vehicles. Joe related a story of a distraught mother who drove her vehicle at high speed around road blocks into a landing zone with a helicopter evacuating her daughter. Only the normal routine of checking scene safety for takeoff prevented loss of the helicopter and potentially several lives.

For many reasons, the helicopter will normally not shut down when on the ground. Joe had only one, very dry, dry marker for the white board, but he managed to make his points on how to approach a helicopter with both rotors spinning. The last figure below is an edited version of his figure.

The tail rotor is spinning but very difficult to see. Approach the helicopter in front of the back ends of the skids (to the right of the olive line in the figure below) to avoid any potential contact with the tail rotor.

The main rotor is spinning and may not be spinning parallel to the ground. That means it may not be obvious how high it is off the ground at any position around the front or sides of the aircraft. Approach the helicopter from the front (between the green lines in the figure below) and make eye contact with the pilot to ensure the pilot sees you and controls the forward pitch and the side roll of the rotor blade to keep it as high as possible above the ground in front and on the left side where patients are loaded and unloaded. That may mean it is lower than expected on the right and back sides of the helicopter. Do not approach a helicopter from its right side or (again because of the tail rotor) its back side.

The weather was predicted to be unstable and the planned flight of a helicopter from Thomson to Oglethorpe County was called off. The intent was to bring groups of two or three from the front side to the left side of the helicopter to let persons experience the distracting noise, vibration and wind. It was suggested that such a demonstration might be done during a regular meeting of the Association.
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Photos by Glenn Galau. Larger images are in the Photo Gallery
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Oglethorpe County Rescue sponsored a Functional Exercise on Saturday June 6 2015. It provided the participants with an opportunity to assess capabilities, plans, policies, and procedures. Concentration was on decision-making, coordination, and integration between organizations during a Missing Person Search. The exercise strengthened interagency communication and provided experience to review current protocols for emergency services notification.

The exercise began at 9 am Saturday June 6 2015 at 1093 Elberton Rd and comprised a search for a missing hunter.
1. Jane called to report that her husband Randy was missing. Randy left for his leased hunting camp two days ago. Typically Randy calls three times a day, but he has not called since 1 pm yesterday. His cell phone rings before going to voicemail. Jane is worried because Randy hunts alone and may be injured. She is unfamiliar with the area and only knows the camp is on an old farm north of Lexington.

2. The Sheriff's Office discovers a pick-up truck at 1093 Elberton Rd - registered to Randy. There is a farm house on the property, but an initial search failed to locate anyone in or around the house.

3. Emergency Management Agency director Douglas Spencer was contacted and he directed a county-wide response. At 9:14 am Central 911 Dispatch phoned the Community Emergency Response Team and then paged out Rescue, Sandy Cross VFD, Vesta VFD and Wesley Chapel VFD and shortly thereafter Emergency Medical Responders. About an hour later, EMR was again paged and a page went out to all remaining fire departments for additional manpower. On a second search, the hunter was located at about noon. EMS attended throughout the training event. There were no injuries to any of the participants.

4. Randy had fallen from a tree stand. He has sustained a compound fracture of the left tib-fib, fracture of the left wrist and head strike indicated by a contusion on the left parietal.
CERT provided the command trailer, rehabilitation tent, chairs and tables for hydration and medical supervision of the two ground search teams. A VFD member was on site to program radios with a common training frequency for all the participants. CERT and VFD personnel made up the two ground search teams. Medical evaluation of the search teams and their rehab was under the direction of EMS and EMR. Rescue provided two ATVs, and EMR provided another. Lunch was provided by Sanders BBQ in Vesta.

The exercise was judged a success. Communication was effective, safety was enforced and the missing hunter was discovered. Douglas Spencer acted as Incident Command, while Rescue Captain Jesse Carter provided Operations Command. Stacy Worley and Chris Owensby were instrumental in providing organization for the event with the help of many others. About thirty five persons attended. Special thanks to Roy Dyer for allowing the use of his property for the exercise.

The following agencies, organizations, and individuals participated in the exercise: Emergency Management Agency (lead)
Emergency Medical Services / Emergency Medical Responders
Community Emergency Response Team
Sheriff's Office / Central 911 Dispatch
Volunteer Firefighters Association
County Volunteer Firefighters
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Participants checked in with personnel in the CERT van and left ID as a record of who attended and who checked out at the end of the exercise. Safety Officer Tim Laflam is in the vest at the left. The ATV was brought by Jesse Carter. On the right, Dale Jett programs radios with the new Training frequency using software purchased by Vesta VFD

On the left, EMS and EMR partipants discuss protocols for checking vital signs of returning searchers. A fan powered by a rescue generator provided some relief from the hot weather. At right, several members of the two search teams discuss strategy before leaving for a second attempt

Team 1 members were Seth Robinson, Alice Williamson, Kevin Worley and Nicole Spencer. Team 2 members were Sam Hogan, William Nation, Patricia Allen and Robert Dyer

Checking vital signs, getting lunch from Sanders BBQ, and finding a place to eat it in the Rescue Gator. Randy did not seem to mind not being offered lunch

Photos by Glenn Galau. More and larger images are in the Photo Gallery
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Firefighter Weekend is held every year by the Georgia Fire Academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. The Weekend is described Here.

Glenn Galau and Charleen Foott from Wolfskin and Douglas Spencer, Nicole Spencer and Dale Jett from Vesta attended courses on both Saturday and Sunday.
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Tracy Graham, Senior Chief Ranger of the Oglethorpe County Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission, retired at the end of May 2015.

During the regular monthly 05 May 2015 Association meeting, Training Officer Stacy Worley presented Tracy with a plaque of appreciation for his service to the County. At the end of the meeting the members enjoyed cake provided by Tim Laflam.


Photos by Glenn Galau. Images are also in the Photo Gallery
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During the 05 May 2015 Association meeting the members were notified of the purchase of three FLIRS-brand thermal imaging cameras to be housed at Crawford, Sandycross and Glade. This was with Emergency Services Commission funds. A breathing air compressor has also been purchased and is presently at the EMA building at 866 Athens Road. It was paid for by the State and EMA/Rescue funds. Insurance premiums were discussed.

Training Officer Stacy Worley presented President Douglas Spencer with a jacket and a plaque of appreciation for his service to the county and the Association.
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During the 03 March 2015 Association meeting, the Association voted on three motions related to an unusual development in 2014. Maxeys Fire Department failed to pick up their 2014 County Contribution to their department in a timely fashion. In December 2014, the County gave a check in that amount to the Association for their own purposes. The Association cashed the check.

After a lengthy meeting on Sunday 01 March, the Association Executive Committee proposed three motions for consideration by the Association. The exact wording of the motions is in the 03 March 2015 Minutes.

Motion 1: Maxeys Fire Department should receive the equivalent of their 2014 County Contribution from the Association.

Motion 2: If Motion 1 passes, Maxeys Fire Department must elect a Treasurer under the supervision of the Association.

Motion 3: As of 2016, each department must submit its budget to the Association at or before its January Meeting. If that is done, then the County Contribution to that department will be available at the February Association Meeting. If that Contribution is not picked up by the department by the end of the March Association Meeting, the County Contribution will be forfit.

Each department had two votes. No proxies were allowed; each separate vote was from a department member present at the meeting.

The vote regarding Motion 1:
1 Yes   0 No   Lexington
1 Yes   1 No   Crawford
0 Yes   2 No   Glade
2 Yes   0 No   Wolfskin
0 Yes   2 No   Vesta (Association President and Vesta Chief Spencer not voting)
0 Yes   2 No   Beaverdam
0 Yes   2 No   Arnoldsville
2 Yes   0 No   Maxeys
2 Yes   0 No   Philomath
2 Yes   0 No   Sandy Cross
2 Yes   0 No   Salem
1 Yes   1 No   Devils Pond
0 Yes   2 No   Pleasant Hill
1 Yes   0 No   Wesley Chapel
0 Yes   0 No   Rescue (Abstained)
Motion 1 was approved by a vote of 14 Yes to 12 No.

Motions 2 and 3 were each approved by roll-call vote without a negative vote.

Senior Chief Ranger Tracy Graham of The Georgia Forestry Commission, Oglethorpe Unit distributed to each department revised Memoranda of Understanding regarding mutual aid. These supersede those signed late last year. Department Chiefs should sign and return to Tracy.
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During the 03 February 2015 Association meeting, about one-half of the fire departments delivered checks for their contribution of $ 1,500 toward the Association's installation of three repeater antennas in Arnoldsville, Maxeys and Sandy Cross, reprograming of radios, and obtaining FCC licences for the repeaters.
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[Transcribed from The Oglethorpe Echo, 08 January 2015]

Firefighters need donations to install antennas on tanks

    Over the past couple months, Oglethorpe County Emergency Management Agency Director and the Firefighter's Association President Douglas Spencer has been meeting with the various city councils in the county.
    He has been seeking permission to install antennas on water towers to improve dapartment communication.
    Spencer said that radio communications is the number one problem in the county for the fire departments. He noted that the county is aware of the issue, but it will be years before they are able to upgrade the system.
    Until then, local fire departments are looking into other options to try and improve communications. One of the ways they can potentially help the situation is to install additional repeaters throughout the county to increase signal distance.
    The county has already done a coverage study and received recommendations from Motorola for the best locations for the antennas. Some of those areas have fire stations while others don't.
    Spencer plans to install repeaters in Arnoldsville, Sandy Cross, and Maxeys. Antennas will be placed on the water tower near Arnoldsville City Hall, the Lexington water tower in the Sandy Cross community, and the Maxeys water tower.
    The cities of Arnoldsville and Maxeys have already given their approval to install the antennas on their water towers. The City of Lexington has its water towers under contract with a vendor that has already placed antennas on at least one of the city's towers.
    Therefore, Spencer has to provide more specific information to Lexington about the fire department repeater to be passed on to the vendor. However, he doesn't believe that there will be a problem with placing an antenna on that water tower either.
    Before any construction can begin, though, the Firefighter's Association must raise the necessary funds to purchase and install the repeaters. Each repeater costs about $ 6,000, including all materials and equipement.
    "We'll handle the funding the same way we do anything else, which is through local fundraisers," Spencer said. He said the next association meeting, which will be held this week, would include discussion of when and how to start the fundraising.
    Spencer anticipated that future fundraisers would include raffles and boot drives, as they have in the past. He did note that this was the first time that he knew of that the Association had tried to do a fundraiser across the entire county, instead of individual departments holding their own events.
    The entire county fire budget is about $160,000, according to Spencer. The repeaters could not be budgeted because all available funds are used for operating costs, including insurance, he said.
    Spencer pointed out that each repeater should help not only the individual departments located closest to the towers but other surrounding ones as well. "It will significantly improve our current situation, but it's still an intermediate step to what the county is planning to do in the future," he added.
    The association will eventually install a small antenna on each of the three water towers in question. The repeaters need elevation to work properly, and putting them on the city's water towers prevents the Firefighter's Association from having to build towers just for the antennas.
    Spencer said the antenna should have no impact on a city's water system or water tower as long as it isn't welded to it. He added that they should be able to bolt it to the handrail on the tower, because the antennas were not large.
    The Firefighter's Association will cover all the expenses related to the repeaters and will be in charge of maintaining them as well. Specer said he would like to install more antennas in the future if the county can receive additional funding.
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During the 06 January 2015 Association meeting, the Association voted to require each of its members to bring to the 03 February 2015 Association meeting a check for $1,500 as their contribution towards the purchase and installation, by the Association, of three radio repeaters to be installed on water towers, probably in Arnoldsville, Maxeys and either Sandy Cross or Lexington. This contribution includes the cost of programing radios in order for them to use the repeater frequencies. Estimated total cost to the Association is about $ 20,000. Lexington's contribution will be in kind. Members who do not contribute will not be able to use the repeater frequencies.
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A county-wide training was held at the Oglethorpe County Elementary School on 01 November 2014 with the goals of deploying and filling drop tanks, connecting two separate drop tanks with a suction hose, and drafting from a drop tank, all skills that in their abscence inhibit the use of water shuttles with drop tanks. It was organized by Training Officer Stacy Worley, who mostly left it to the firefighters to accomplish what on paper were very simple goals but most of which were, prehaps predictably, difficult to accomplish. Nobody claimed Incident Command and towards the end only a few knew what what was being attempted and why. Unfortunately the debriefing did little to clarify. But the training should be rated a success; some lessons were learned and subjects for additional training easily identified.

Wolfskin, Maxeys, Vesta, Beaverdam, Crawford and Lexington were represented at the training.

More at 2014 Training.
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Deploying and filling the two tanks was relatively easy. Wolfskin brought its 2,500 gal vacuum tanker with its 3,000 gal drop tank and, once the tank was deployed, emptied all of its water into it within three minutes. Maxies also rapidly partially filled a second drop tank from its 900 gal fireknocker

It was difficult to establish a two-way connection between the two adjacent drop tanks with a hard suction hose so that they would operate as one larger tank. Trying to fill the hose by its submersion in one tank and then moving one of its ends into the other tank failed so badly that it should be rejected for use in the field unless an air-tight cap could be placed on the end to be moved. More successful was to use an attack line from the Beaverdam pumper to force a continuous column of water through the hose already in place between the two tanks. That worked perfectly, but of course requires a near-by pumper with some water

Stacy then drained the Crawford pumper and asked for anyone to refill it. It was understood that the water should probably be from the drop tanks

Maxeys took the challenge but was unable to draft from their fireknocker until one of their crew discovered the function of a small pet-cock in one of pump's several narrow accessory lines. More than one of the observing veterans was then reminded of this one of the many peculiarities of the fireknocker pump. Maxeys then returned their drafted water back to the drop tanks. Someone had suggested another way to fill the Crawford pumper

Beverdam was able to draft with ease, their priming pump apparently being up to specs and their crew familiar with the procedures. It was not clear why they deployed two suction hoses. Perhaps one was drafting and one was draining it back into the tanks

Vesta brought a Venturi device that can be used to establish a draft, but its deployment was frustrated by an incompatabilty in the size of its fittings and those available on the pumper which was to drive the device. This was probably Beaverdam, since Crawford was drained by Stacy. Once a coupling was found it worked amazingly well. Another instance where having water is necessary to get more water. But too many hoses and few knew what was happening

Breakdown and rolling hose. Who do they belong to?

Assistant Chief Charleen Foott wonders how to fill their tanker (it leaves empty), Beaverdam slowly fills the Maxeys fireknocker with a 1.5 inch attack line (yes, they have to be filled by holding a hose into a top hatch), and at present with four hoses attached and several sections of suction hose on the ground, Crawford eventually leaves clean but empty

Photos by Glenn Galau. Larger images are in the Photo Gallery
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Modified 15 October 2017

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