High Fire Danger Could Impact Open Burning Season

LaFayette, GA – With the arrival of October, Georgia’s seasonal burn ban, which impacts Walker and 53 other counties, comes to a close.  While burning is allowed from October 1st through April 30th, residents need to obtain a permit and be aware of what is legal and illegal to burn.

Fire Inspector Jeff Roerdink with Walker County Fire Rescue says “the things that you can burn right now are pretty much going to be natural vegetation. Which means, if you had a tree fall down on your property you can burn those limbs, you can burn those leaves.”

Burning construction materials, like treated lumber or shingles, is prohibited… as well as tires, plastics and household garbage.  “Garbage is a definite no go,” says Roerdink.  “There are a lot of chemicals in the trash we generally throw out, like plastic bottles, that would put off gases and smoke into the atmosphere that is harmful for people to breath.”

There is no cost to obtain a permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission. Simply visit GaTrees.org or call 1-877-OK-2-BURN. Permits are good for one day, from 8:00 a.m. to sundown. If caught burning without a permit, you could be fined.

This year, due to drought conditions, Georgia Forestry will be issuing permits on a day to day basis in an effort to prevent wildfires.  The decision to burn will be based on the weather and permits may be restricted due to the fire danger forecast.

“There’s a five step fire danger system used nationally, and right now Georgia is in the four to five categories, indicating very high fire danger,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells.

When you do burn, Roerdink suggests taking a few precautions to keep your burn pile from getting away from you.  “Keep it down to a small pile. And keep a 25 foot clearance around that area so if you are burning, it’s not going to get away from you. Make sure it’s down to the soil, bare dirt.”

You should also keep water and a shovel close by and never leave your fire unattended.

For additional information about open burning, permitting requirements and fire conditions, visit GaTrees.org.

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Walker County to Hold Patriot Day Service on 9/11

LaFayette, GA – Walker County will hold a Patriot Day service to recognize and remember first responders on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

The service, led by Walker County Fire Rescue, begins at 8:15 a.m. and includes the ringing of a bell at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. to signify the moments when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

Students from LaFayette High School’s JROTC and chorus programs will be participating in the program, along with Walker County Deputy Fire Chief Nathan Farrow, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson and LaFayette Fire Services and Emergency Management Director Stacey Meeks.  Taps will be performed by Ridgeland High School student Tyler Bailey.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield recently signed a proclamation recognizing September 11, 2019 as Patriot Day in Walker County, encouraging citizens to observe the day with patriotism and pause for a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m.

WHAT: Patriot Day Service
WHEN: Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 8:15 a.m.
WHERE: Walker County Courthouse (103 S Duke Street, LaFayette, GA)

View last year’s ceremony:

How Walker Works – Taxing Authorities

LaFayette, GA – Local governments rely on property taxes to provide a substantial portion of the funds necessary to offer services that enhance the quality of life and safety of its citizens.

Every year, property owners receive a bill in the mail spelling out their total taxes due.  The amount differs based on where you live, due to the number of taxing authorities in each community and the funds each entity needs to operate.

In Walker County, there are eight main taxing authorities:

-Chickamauga City Schools
-City of Chickamauga
-City of Fort Oglethorpe 
-City of LaFayette
-City of Lookout Mountain
-City of Rossville
-Walker County Board of Education
-Walker County Government

A Downtown Development Authority also has taxing authority.

In Georgia, each taxing authority has the ability to raise or lower taxes on its own, without approval from any other authority.  For example, school systems — which make up the majority of taxes owed in most communities — do not need the approval of a city council or county commission, in order to set their portion of the millage rate. 

So, what do you get for your property taxes?  Schools use these funds to put teachers in every classroom… and pay for things like technology, supplies and buildings.  Cities and Counties use property taxes to fund law enforcement and courts, animal control, land use planning and zoning, fire protection, road and stormwater maintenance, code enforcement, transit and library and health department operations, among other services. 

Not every citizen will use every service available… but the combined offerings help build a community we can be proud to call home.

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How Walker Works – Fireworks Safety

Chickamauga, GA – Many Americans celebrate Independence Day with a parade, picnic or BBQ and of course, fireworks.  “It’s enjoyable, but they are dangerous. They can hurt and they have hurt so just be very cautious when you do fireworks,” says Walker County Fire Inspector Jeff Roerdink.

Fireworks were involved in over 9,000 injuries that required a hospital visit in 2018, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Roerdink offers a few recommendations to keep you from becoming a statistic this Fourth of July.  “If you have a firework, don’t hold on to that firework.  That firework is considered an explosive and it can remove fingers and cause all sorts of damage.  Be smart with what you are going to do with these fireworks.  Don’t shoot them at each other.”

Here are a few other safety tips:

  • Shoot fireworks off from a solid surface, like a concrete pad, so they won’t fall over
  • Never try to relight a dud
  • Keep a bucket of water close by to douse spent fireworks
  • Think twice before letting small children hold sparklers, which burn hot enough to cause third degree burns

On the subject of sparklers, Roerdink has some additional perspective.  “To put it into perspective, wood generally burns at 300 to 400 degrees fahrenheit, so a sparkler is 1200 degrees fahrenheit, that temperature is enough temperature to actually burn some metals.”

Roerdink says the best way to take part in a fireworks display is as a viewer… letting professionally trained pyrotechnicians handle the show.  “I just want to make sure everybody has a safe and happy Fourth of July from Walker County Fire Rescue.”

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Walker County Fire Rescue Responds to Early Morning Fire at Landfill

Chickamauga, GA – A recently filled area of the Walker County Landfill caught fire early this morning.

Around 2:00 a.m., material that had been brought to the landfill Tuesday flared up in the Construction and Demolition section, where building waste such as lumber, glass and brick is disposed.

Firefighters with Walker County Fire Rescue used about 35,000 gallons of water to contain the blaze, which covered about a fourth of an acre.  Landfill and Public Works crews also smothered the area with dirt to further combat hot spots.

Crews will continue to monitor this area in case the fire rekindles.  A cause for the fire remains undetermined.

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

Walker County Fire Rescue Crews Bring Injured Hiker to Safety

Lafayette, GA – Units with Walker County Fire Rescue helped bring a hiker with a broken leg to safety late Saturday afternoon.

Emergency crews received a call around 5:30 p.m. that a 30-year old woman had fallen at the Keown Falls overlook.  The hiker was about eight-tenths of a mile down a trail.

When rescue crews reached her, the hiker informed them she had pain in her right leg and could not walk on it. After immobilizing her leg, fire personnel placed her on a backboard and carried her up a series of steps to the base of Keown Falls.

The hiker was then placed on a utility vehicle and brought back up the trail to a staging area, where an ambulance waited to transport her to the hospital.

Walker County Fire Chief Blake Hodge Receives Executive Fire Officer Designation

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Fire Chief Blake Hodge received local and state recognition during last night’s Commissioner meeting.

Hodge successfully completed the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy’s four year Executive Fire Officer Program. The EFOP focuses on leadership development, lifelong learning, being proactive instead of reactive and utilizing research and analytics to reduce risk, among other skills.

Chief Hodge is one of only 72 Executive Fire Officers in the state of Georgia.

Along with a local proclamation to recognize this accomplishment, Chief Hodge received a proclamation from Georgia’s Insurance & Safety Fire Commissioner for the county’s campaign to install smoke alarms in every home in Walker County at no expense to citizens.  305 smoke alarms have been installed so far in 2019.

Ironman Foundation and Walker County Team Up to Provide Emergency Resources to Local Community

Tampa, FL/LaFayette, GA – The IRONMAN Foundation® will provide a $160,000 grant over the course of five years to Walker County in advance of the Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN® 70.3® Chattanooga presented by McKee: A Family Bakery on May 19 and the Little Debbie IRONMAN® Chattanooga presented by McKee: A Family Bakery on September 29. The community grant will help install 40 new fire hydrants in needed locations, providing additional coverage for Walker County first responders to handle emergency situations.

“It is the mission of the IRONMAN Foundation to create positive, tangible impact in our race communities through grant funding and volunteerism,” said Sarah Hartmann, Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation. “With this partnership, we are able to directly impact the safety of Walker County residents. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Walker County and honored to support the community.”

“We are honored and delighted to continue hosting IRONMAN events in Walker County,” said Shannon Whitfield, Walker County Commissioner. “This prestigious and global event provides us with an outstanding opportunity to showcase our beautiful county. We appreciate our IRONMAN partners making this investment in our community.”

IRONMAN athletes will experience the beauty of Walker County as they ride through the area on the bike course for both Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga presented by McKee A Family Bakery and Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga presented by McKee A Family Bakery. This bike course was voted as one of the top 10 courses on both the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 global circuit in the 2017 and 2018 Athlete Choice Awards.

“IRONMAN provides a valuable economic benefit to Walker County far beyond just this investment,” added Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County. “We have already enjoyed numerous return visits from previous IRONMAN athletes who eat, shop and stay in Walker County. They have all discovered why Walker Rocks!”

The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteerism grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series® events are held. This year’s grant funding brings the total giveback to more than $633,000 in the Chattanooga and North Georgia regions. In 2019 the IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than $1.7 million in grant funding to support the needs of IRONMAN race communities across North America.

For more information on IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation, please visit www.ironman.com and www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About Walker County, Georgia

Walker County, GA is part of the thriving Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA, featuring a population of more than 68,000 people.  The county, formed in 1833, is also home to some of the most scenic and stunning outdoor adventure destinations in the Southeast, including Rock City, Lula Lake and Pettyjohn’s Cave.  The county boasts a labor force in excess of 31,000 workers with nearly 39% of local jobs in the service industry. To learn more, visit: walkercountyga.gov and walkerrocks.com.

About the IRONMAN Foundation 

The IRONMAN Foundation® creates positive, tangible change in race communities by engaging athletes and volunteers to participate in programs that demonstrate service through sport and commitment to community. Since 2003, over $50,000,000 has been provided through IRONMAN charitable giveback programs including the IRONMAN Foundation to more than 7,800 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series athletes are powerfully linked to the community and together we leave the IRONMAN legacy behind in our race communities long after event day. For more information on IRONMAN Foundation programs, including Team IMF, Community Fund, Rock This Town, Your Journey Your Cause, and Women For Tri, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About IRONMAN 

As part of Wanda Sports Holdings, the IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the UCI Velothon® Series, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, premier marathons including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, trail running like Ultra-Trail Australia™, and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 230 events across 53 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Wanda Sports Holdings 

Wanda Sports Holdings is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media & marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.

Walker County Maintains 3/3Y ISO Rating

LaFayette, GA – Walker County maintained a 3/3Y ISO rating following a rigorous review of fire services in the unincorporated areas of the county and city of Chickamauga.

The 3/3Y classification by the Insurance Service Office will benefit homeowners and business owners.  Insurance companies use ISO ratings in their calculations to determine insurance rates in a community.

“This validates all the hard work being done by our team to improve fire service in Walker County, while reinforcing the fact that our efforts provide a financial savings too,” said Chief Blake Hodge.  “These surveys take a lot of time and effort to coordinate. It’s not easy to attain this mark.”

The ISO evaluation looked at all aspects of the fire department, including equipment, manpower, training, number of stations and response times.  ISO also evaluated area water authorities, 911 communications, public education, fire prevention efforts, code enforcement and inspections, among other areas.

Walker County received high marks for communications, water supply, fire hydrants and firefighter training.

ISO rates communities one on a scale of 1 to 10.  A lower number means fire service in a given area is better equipped to put out a fire and save a home or business.  The ISO 3 rating, which is good for four years, places Walker County in the Top 12% in the nation for fire protection, ahead of more than 37,800 other cities and counties.