Walker County Fire Victims Remembered at Georgia State Capitol

Atlanta, GA – The annual swearing in ceremony for Fire Marshals and Fire Inspectors at the Georgia State Capitol took on new meaning this year for Walker County Fire Marshal Paul Linder.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office displays shoes on the Capitol steps to represent the lives lost to fire during the previous year.  This time, five of those pairs of shoes were from Walker County, including one pair representing a 12-year old girl.

Fire Marshal Linder wondered how many of those fatalities might have been prevented by working smoke alarms.  The State Fire Marshal’s Office held the shocking answer.  In 2018, there were 83 fatal house fires across Georgia.  Only four of the 83 fatal fires had working smoke alarms.

Walker County Fire Rescue recently doubled its efforts to promote its free smoke alarm program with public service announcements, a billboard and neighborhood installation blitz along Dry Valley Road, where four of the five local fatalities occurred in 2018.  Only 21 smoke alarms were installed in 2017.  In 2018, the number increased to 228.  One month into 2019 and nearly 90 smoke alarms have already been installed.

Linder hopes one day when he attends the swearing in ceremony, there won’t be any shoes on the Capitol steps.  Do your part by calling 706-539-1255 and requesting a free smoke alarm installation or by sharing this information with friends and loved ones.

Also in attendance from Walker County to be sworn in was Jeffrey Roerdink, our new Fire Inspector.  Roerdink recertified through the Georgia Fire Academy this month.



Walker Fire Rescue & American Red Cross Plan Smoke Alarm Blitz

Rossville, GA – Walker County Fire Rescue and the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia will be going door to door on February 2nd to improve fire safety in the Chattanooga Valley community.  Teams will be canvassing the Dry Valley Road area to install smoke alarms at no charge, conduct a home safety survey and identify potential hazards in the home.

Four people died in two unrelated fire incidents on Dry Valley Road last year.  Fire investigators did not find working smoke alarms in either home.

“Our greatest obstacle with our free smoke alarm program is getting people to sign up,” said Chief Blake Hodge.  “In my 25 year career, I have not worked a residential structure fire that resulted in serious injury or death, when there were operating smoke alarms present.  Smoke alarms save lives!”

Walker County launched a public service campaign last year that resulted in firefighters installing 228 smoke alarms.  Only 21 smoke alarms were installed in 2017.  “With over 68,000 residents, it’s important to diversify our communication efforts and approach, so this information gets to all our citizens,” added Chief Hodge.  “We hope by adding this one-day blitz, we can increase participation.”

Volunteer opportunities are available for community members who would like to be part of this home fire preparedness campaign.  To learn more or to register, contact the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia at 706-728-3424 or email Carla Maton at carla.maton@redcross.org.

Any Walker County resident in need of free smoke alarms should contact Walker County Fire Rescue at 706-539-1255.

How Walker Works – Free Smoke Alarm Program

While most people associate Walker County Fire Rescue with fighting fires and emergency response, the department also actively works to prevent fires.  Regina Dorsey, Life & Fire Safety Educator said, “Because we want to save lives. That’s just the bottom line. We want to save property, but we want to save lives.”

Along with visits to schools and community events, building inspections and safety training for local businesses, this County department also offers a free smoke alarm program.  “We’re going to go out to your home. We’re going to do a home safety survey and we’re going to make sure you don’t have any hazards in your house and we’ll put up the smoke alarms that they need. It’s just that easy,” said Dorsey.

Smoke alarms are given out and installed for free.  There are no income restrictions.  You just have to make the call to receive a potentially life saving device.  Dorsey said, “If you need them, we will come install ours. If you have them, can afford to buy them and you have them, we’ll come install them for you. If you don’t need to climb on a ladder because you’re elderly, we’ll do that for you.”

In 2018, Walker County Fire Rescue worked 89 building fires.  Tragically, two of those incidents resulted in fatalities and fire investigators did not find working smoke alarms in those homes.  Dorsey added, “The ones we have are good for 10 years, they have a sealed battery. You don’t have to change the battery. All you have to do is push the button once a month and test them and make sure they are working. If your smoke alarms aren’t working, you may as well not have them.”

Walker County firefighters installed 228 smoke alarms in 2018.  If you need one, make the call, make the call — dial 706-539-1255.  The life you save may be your own.



Fatal House Fire this Afternoon in Walker County

Rossville, GA – A fatal house fire this afternoon on Dry Valley Road in Walker County claimed the lives of two people.

Firefighters with Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) received a call at 2:14 p.m. concerning a fire at 1477 Dry Valley Road. Eight units responded to the scene and found flames coming from the home, which was roughly 30% involved.

Fire officials say the two victims were located in a heavily burned section of the home. Their bodies will be sent to the GBI crime lab for autopsy, which is standard procedure. The names of the victims are not being released at this time.

The Walker County Fire Marshal, along with the state Fire Marshal, are investigating the cause of the blaze, which is currently undetermined. Fire investigators did not find any working smoke detectors in the unburnt section of the home.

Teddy Bears to Help Answer Emergency Calls Involving Children in Walker County

Rock Spring, GA – Fire trucks in Walker County are now transporting a furry friend to the scene of a traumatic event involving a child.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) recently received a donation of 30 teddy bears from State Farm Agent Mike Herndon and his team in Rock Spring.  The bears have been distributed to every career fire station in Walker County for firefighters to give to children during an emergency situation, like a wreck or fire.

“Teddy bears can provide a sense of comfort and security during a turbulent time,” said Fire Chief Blake Hodge.  “I hope these friendly faces will remind our youngest patients that the community cares about their wellbeing and make a scary situation a little less frightening.”

Along with the bears, Herndon donated 150 sets of coloring books and crayons for WCES’ Fire Prevention and Education Department to be used in local schools and daycares.

Tennessee American Water Awards Firefighting Support Grant to WCES

Chickamauga, GA – Tennessee American Water awarded a $500 Firefighting Support Grant to Walker County Emergency Services (WCES).

The funds will be used to purchase the ExamView computerized testing module to assist in the training and preparation of WCES firefighters. The module will generate random exam questions needed for new firefighter training, continuing education and promotional testing.

WCES operates 19 fire stations, serving over 68,000 residents in a 462 square mile area.

Pictured are Deputy Chief Nathan Farrow, Crystal Woods, Chief Blake Hodge, Drew Watson and Adam Chrnalogar from Tennessee American Water, Sgt. Caleb McRae and Lt. Dan Mims

Fire Prevention Week in Walker County is October 7-13

Chickamauga, GA – Commissioner Whitfield recently signed a proclamation designating October 7-13 as Fire Prevention Week in Walker County.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ­to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The campaign will focus on educating the public about basic, but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

“Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives,” said Chief Blake Hodge. “We need to do a better job of teaching people about the potentially life-saving difference of escape planning and practice.”

This year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:

  • Look for places fire could start
  • Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm
  • Learn 2 ways out of every room

Sparky the Fire Dog and a FriendWhile WCES and the NFPA are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply virtually anywhere. “Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Chief Hodge. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

WCES will host a series of events in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, including visits to local schools to reinforce the message with our children.

Smoke Alarm InstallationAlso, if you need a smoke alarm for your home, call or email Regina Dorsey at 706-539-1255 ext 111. She will schedule a time for a firefighter to come to your home and install an alarm for free. WCES does this as a community service with our partner, American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia.

Walker County Firefighters Investigate Early Morning Fatal Fire

Rossville, GA – Firefighters with Walker County Emergency Services responded to a house fire early this morning. The blaze was reported around 1:15 a.m. at 306 Dry Valley Road.

When first responders arrived, they found the home already 80% involved.

The bodies of a 12-year old girl and a 51-year old man were found inside. Fire investigators believe both victims died before firefighters arrived. Investigators also did not find any working smoke alarms inside the home.

The bodies of the two victims have been sent to the GBI crime lab for autopsy. Their names are not being released at this time. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Walker County Plans 9/11 Remembrance Service

LaFayette, GA – On the 17th anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attack on our nation, Walker County will hold a public 9/11 Remembrance Service on the steps on the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette.

The service, led by Walker County Emergency Services, begins at 8:30 a.m. and includes the ringing of a bell at 8:46 a.m. to recognize the locations this country was attacked.

Students from LaFayette High School’s JROTC and chorus programs will be participating in the program, along with Walker County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Blake Hodge, LaFayette Fire Services and Emergency Management Director Stacy Meeks and Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield recently signed a proclamation recognizing September 11, 2018 as Patriot Day in Walker County, encouraging citizens to observe this day with patriotism and thankfulness.

WHAT:           9/11 Remembrance Service

WHEN:           Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE:         Walker County Courthouse steps (103 S Duke Street, LaFayette, GA)

Small Fire at Walker County Landfill Kept Contained

Chickamauga, GA – A small fire, about the size of two basketball courts, ignited this afternoon at the Walker County Landfill.

The fire occurred around 3:30 p.m. in a contained area. Landfill crews used dirt from a nearby stockpile to smother the fire and create a break to prevent it from spreading.

Firefighters with Walker County Emergency Services arrived a short time later and set up a coordinated water shuffle to douse the flames. The process involved seven fire trucks hauling water to a staging area to continually fill two 3,000 gallon portable water tanks.

Once the fire was under control, crews built a berm around the area and removed other potential fuel sources. The Walker County Landfill handles construction and demolition waste, such as lumber, tile and brick.

Crews will remain on site overnight conducting a fire watch to be immediately alerted should the fire rekindle.

Georgia EPD has been advised of the incident and is monitoring the situation.