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.

Georgia Search and Rescue Task Force 6 Conducts Cave Rescue Training in Walker County

LaFayette, GA – Members of Georgia Search and Rescue Task Force 6 spent two days conducting cave rescue training in Walker County last week.

The team, which is based out of the Calhoun Fire Department, includes members from various departments throughout the region, including nine members from Walker County Emergency Services, which also has its own Cave & Cliff Rescue Team.

The Task Force journeyed about an hour into Pettyjohn’s Cave to experience the wet, rocky and narrow confines they may have to work in. They then packaged a volunteer patient and installed a rigging system to bring that patient to safety.

This highly skilled, highly trained team completes quarterly training on specialties such as rope rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue and collapse rescue. Members are also trained in wilderness search and rescue, along with water rescue.

Task Force 6 deploys regionally and statewide on rescue calls and disasters. Their most recent large scale deployments came during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma.


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Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation Grant Aids Walker County Firefighters

Chickamauga, GA – The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has awarded Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) a grant valued at $14,385. The funds will be used to purchase 21 Seek Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) and accessories.

WCES currently has eight TICs in its inventory, but only six are operational and in service. “With 19 fire stations serving an estimated 458 square miles, our current number of TICs does not meet our need to supply every firefighter with this live-saving technological tool,” said Fire Chief Blake Hodge.

The new cameras are smaller and lighter than their older counterparts, and can be attached to a firefighter or their gear. WCES will strategically place TICs at career and volunteer stations throughout the county, as well as Station 8 at Walker State Prison. “The addition of these cameras will improve the safety of our firefighters and improve our ability to locate fire victims and injured firefighters,” added Chief Hodge.

Along with their lifesaving capabilities, thermal imaging cameras can help firefighters search for missing persons, identify fires hidden in the wall of a house and locate hot spots in electrical and mechanical components.

“I’d like to thank Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for their continued support of public safety organizations. Their contributions improve the services provided by first responders in Walker County and other communities,” said Chief Hodge.

In 2005, the Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment, and educational opportunities to first-responders and public safety organizations. Through the non-profit 501(c)(3), Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has granted more than $35 million to hometown heroes in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, including more than $2.3 million in Georgia.  

FM Global Grant Keeps Sparky the Fire Dog Programs in Walker County

Chickamauga, GA – Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) received a $2,700 fire prevention grant today from FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers.

Dale Miller, a field engineer with FM Global, presented the award to Fire Marshal Paul Linder, along with other WCES team members.  The grant will fund the purchase of a new Sparky the Fire Dog costume, which will be used at schools and community events to promote fire prevention in Walker County.

“At FM Global, we strongly believe the majority of property damage is preventable, not inevitable,” said Michael Spaziani, assistant vice president – manager of the fire prevention grant program. “Far too often, inadequate budgets prevent those organizations working to prevent fire from being as proactive as they would like to be. With additional financial support, grant recipients are actively helping to improve property risk in the communities they serve.”

Fire continues to be the leading cause of property damage worldwide, which is one reason why FM Global has contributed millions of dollars in fire prevention grants over the past 40 years.

Pictured are: WCES Deputy Chief Nathan Farrow, WCES Fire Chief Blake Hodge, FM Global Field Engineer Dale Miller, WCES Fire Marshal Paul Linder, WCES Fire Educator Suzanna Tingle, WCES Capt. Robert Stephenson, WCES Firefighter James Bass and WCES Administrative Assistant Crystal Woods.

Rossville Police Make Arrest in Copper Theft Oil Spill Case

Rossville, GA – Rossville Police arrested 46-year old Christopher Shane Nichols today in connection with the theft of copper at the Coats American building that resulted in an oil spill.

Christopher Shane NicholsNichols currently faces a felony charge of second-degree burglary in Walker County, but additional charges are possible.  He also stands accused of auto theft in East Ridge, TN in an unrelated case.

Sunday night, authorities discovered an oily sheen near the Coats American building on Maple Street.  Once inside, they found an industrial transformer, containing a PCB warning label, had been tipped over in order to remove a copper coil.

Transformer in Coats American buildingThe vandalism caused an oil spill that prompted a hazmat response, due to the potential release of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl.  Other transformers inside the Coats building had also been vandalized in order to steal copper, but those devices did not contain the same warning label.

Rossville Police found a couple of bags of copper, tools and clothing left behind at the crime scene and tracked Nichols with the help of area scrap metal dealers.  “We deeply appreciate the tireless efforts of Rossville Police Chief Sid Adams and his team to find those responsible for this selfish act that endangered our community,” said Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “Officer Dewayne Llewellyn should be commended for his quick action and resourcefulness in this case.  His decision to make fliers and pass them out at area scrap metal locations helped develop leads that might not have materialized.”

As for the spill, SRT Safety, an environmental clean-up company, contained the oil to an onsite containment area at the Coats property and placed booms along a half mile stretch from Williams Street Tributary to State Line Road to absorb any residual oil that made it into the storm water.

Walker County, which owns the Coats building, continues to cooperate with the EPA and Georgia EPD to address any concerns created by the oil spill.  Testing in and around the building is being conducted to help determine a plan for remediation.

Reward Offered to Find Copper Thieves Who Caused Oil Spill at Coats American Building in Walker County

Rossville, GA – Copper thieves vandalized an industrial transformer at the Coats American building prompting an emergency response Sunday night.  The incident began after a resident noticed an oily sheen and notified a Rossville police officer, who traced the source to the Coats building on Maple Street.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) responded around 7:15 p.m. and discovered a transformer inside the building had been vandalized in order to steal copper.  The transformer was labeled PCB, meaning oil inside the unit likely contained polychlorinated biphenyl, a chemical used for electrical insulation.  The vandalism resulted in an oil spill.

Walker County notified Georgia EPD and their counterpart in Tennessee.  Chattanooga Hazmat also responded and confirmed the presence of PCB in the oil.  SRT Safety, an environmental clean-up company, was brought in to contain the oil that spilled from the transformer.

SRT contained the oil to an onsite containment area at the Coats property and placed booms along a half mile stretch from Williams Street Tributary to State Line Road to absorb any residual oil that made it into the storm water.  The oil that leaked beyond the Coats property is believed to be small, similar to the amount of residual oil that would run off from a big box store parking lot during a rain shower.

WCES and SRT continue to coordinate with Georgia EPD and the EPA, following their guidelines for containment and cleanup.

Anyone with information concerning this crime should contact the Rossville Police Department or Walker County Sheriff’s Office.  The thieves left behind a bag filled with copper and some tools.  A reward of $1,000 is being offered by Walker County Government for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.