HOME PAGE OF OGLETHORPE COUNTY FIRE AND RESCUE

01 July 2015, Suppression of a Vehicle Fire with a Scotty® 50 gal/min Foam Gun; Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue   15 August 2015, Denver Drill Training at Beaverdam VFD; Oglethorpe County Fire and Rescue   05 December 2015, Structure Fire Control Class at Morgan County Training Facility; 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 fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm at the Oglethorpe County EMS/Rescue/Training Center at 892 Athens Road (Highway 78) in Crawford. Rescue members from each department meet every fourth Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm, also 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




2016 ASSOCIATION-SPONSORED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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 will provide the following training for calendar year 2016. All courses start at 9 am unless otherwise specified. There will be additional classes. You will be notified via email when, what, and where they will be/are. There are more than the required 24 hours scheduled for those that are not able to attend one or more of them. You will be receiving a certificate of completion at the end of each session. The training schedule is as follows:


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. Register Here  16 Hours
Class starts at 9:00 am both days
     15 October Vesta Vehicle Fires    4 Hours
     19 November Training Center Hose and Nozzles (David Bullard)    TBA
     10 December


Additional classes may be added. I will email the updated schedule when this occurs. Please keep in mind these classes are for your mandatory training hours per the state. If you would, please give me a head count per department when a class is approaching; this is for the instructors to make sure enough material is provided. -- Stacy Worley, Training Officer
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24, 25 SEPTEMBER 2016 - GEMA CRASH VICTIM EXTRICATION CLASS

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.
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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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12 SEPTEMBER - 03 DECEMBER 2016
BASIC VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER WITH LIVE FIRE

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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SUNDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2016 - RECOGNITION LUNCHEON - LEXINGTON BAPTIST CHURCH

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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10-11 SEPTEMBER 2016 - FIREFIGHTER WEEKEND - FORSYTH

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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16-17 JULY 2016 - GEMA RESCUE SPECIALIST COURSE   CRAWFORD

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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12 JULY 2016 ASSOCIATION MEETING
AUTHORIZATION TO ESTABLISH A FISCAL POLICY DRAFT COMMITTEE

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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SATURDAY 09 JULY 2016 RADIO PROGRAMMING   CRAWFORD
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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JUNE 2016 - RADIO REPEATER ANTENNA RAISED ON THE FIRE TOWER

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

11 JUNE 2016 - GEMA HAZMAT AWARENESS COURSE   CRAWFORD

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

07 JUNE AND 17 JUNE 2016 - MONTHLY ASSOCIATION MEETING AND FOLLOWUP - FISCAL POLICY

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

26 MAY 2016 - COUNTY SCHOOL EMERGENCY EXERCISE

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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12 MAY 2016 - WOLFSKIN TRAINING - DRAFTING WITHOUT A PRIMER PUMP

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 Engine4 and Tanker4. 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 Engine4 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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03 MAY 2016 - MONTHLY ASSOCIATION MEETING - FIRE TOWER RADIO REPEATER

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


02 MAY 2016 - PRESENTATION TO THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

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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09 APRIL 2016 - COUNTY PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - SCBA TRAINING

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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02 APRIL 2016 - HONORING FORMER LEXINGTON VFD CHIEF JOHN HILL

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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17 MARCH 2016 - 2015 ANNUAL REPORT TO BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

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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SUNDAY, 13 MARCH 2016 - PIPELINE EMERGENCIES: COMPANY OFFICER TACTICS

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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01 MARCH 2016 MONTHLY MEETING - NFIRS / IMAGE TREND

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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05 JANUARY 2016 MONTHLY MEETING - FIRE REPEATERS

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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05 JANUARY 2016 MONTHLY MEETING - MEETING GFSTC TRAINING STANDARDS

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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2015 INCIDENT SUMMARY

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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WEDNESDAY 30 DECEMBER 2015 - THE FLOODS

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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WEDNESDAY, 30 DECEMBER 2015 - GROVE CREEK ROAD RESCUE

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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TUESDAY, 15 DECEMBER 2015 - GFSTC VISIT
RULES AND REGULATIONS ABOUT DEPARTMENTS AND FIREFIGHTERS

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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12 DECEMBER 2015 - BASIC VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER WITH LIVE FIRE   SALEM

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
DOUGLAS AND NICOLE SPENCER PROFILED BY GRADY/NEWSOURCE

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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03 NOVEMBER 2015 MONTHLY MEETING - ISO RATINGS

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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SATURDAY 15 AUGUST 2015   COUNTY-WIDE TRAINING   DENVER DRILL

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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12 AUGUST 2015   SURPLUS ARMY TRUCKS

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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TUESDAY 04 AUGUST 2015   ASSOCIATION MEETING - EMR TO USE REPEATER FREQUENCIES

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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WEDNESDAY 01 JULY 2015   COUNTY-WIDE TRAINING IN VEHICLE FIRE SUPPRESSION

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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SATURDAY 27 JUNE 2015   COUNTY-WIDE LANDING ZONE SAFETY CLASS

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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06 JUNE 2015   COUNTY-WIDE SEARCH AND RESCUE TRAINING

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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16-17 MAY 2015   GEORGIA FIREFIGHTER WEEKEND   FORSYTH

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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05 MAY 2015 ASSOCIATION MEETING - TRACY GRAHAM RETIRES

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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07 APRIL 2015 ASSOCIATION MEETING - THERMAL IMAGING CAMERAS AND AIR COMPRESSOR

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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03 MARCH 2015 ASSOCIATION MEETING - MAXEYS FIRE DEPARTMENT

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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03 FEBRUARY 2015 ASSOCIATION MEETING - RADIO REPEATERS

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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08 JANUARY 2015   FIREFIGHTERS NEED DONATIONS TO INSTALL ANTENNAS ON TANKS

[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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06 JANUARY 2015 ASSOCIATION MEETING - RADIO REPEATERS

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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01 NOVEMBER 2014   COUNTY-WIDE TRAINING: DROP TANKS

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 20 September 2016

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