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.

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.

Realignment of Public Safety Resources Improves Response Times in Walker County

LaFayette, GA – Walker County residents are already experiencing an improvement in emergency services following a recent realignment of public safety resources.

Walker County increased the number of 24/7/365 fire stations from 4 to 6 on October 1st. Existing staff and equipment were relocated to enhance services in the Villanow, Cane Creek and Kensington communities.

Last month, firefighters at Station 14 saved more than 13 minutes responding to calls in Villanow, while the average response time from Station 15 in Cane Creek was nearly cut in half.

Walker County Emergency Services Chief Blake Hodge said, “This is a drastic improvement in our department’s response times. Considering a fire doubles in size every minute and irreversible brain damage can occur within four to six minutes, response times are critical.”

Station 14 in Villanow posted an 8:42 mark in October, significantly improving on the previous average response time of 22:10. Station 15 in Cane Creek established a response of 6:18 last month, compared to its previous average of 12:33. “Currently, there are no ambulances stationed near Villanow. The closest is 12 miles away in LaFayette. We’re now arriving approximately ten minutes before an ambulance to provide initial patient care,” added Hodge.

Station 20, near Highway 136 and Cove Road, had not been staffed by career or volunteer firefighters prior to October 1st. Initial data shows an average response time of 9:06.

Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield pointed out, “This is all being done with less funding. The fire department’s budget was cut by $50,000 compared to what was spent in 2016. I commend Chief Hodge and his team for finding new methods to better manage taxpayer money.”

The realignment followed the successful transition of Station 2 in Flintstone in July to a 24/7/365 operation. The county’s other full-time fire stations are in Rock Spring and Chickamauga.

Walker County also plans to focus on developing automatic aid agreements with neighboring jurisdictions to further strengthen response times and improve services.

Walker County Adds 3 Quick Response Vehicles to Reduce Response Times and Save Taxpayer Money

A Quick Response Vehicles used by the fire department

Lafayette, GA – Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) placed three Quick Response Vehicles (QRV) into operation last week. One QRV has been added to each of the county’s three full time fire stations: Rock Spring, Chickamauga and Lafayette. These vehicles can respond to any incident, but will primarily work medical calls and motor vehicle accidents.

In their first 48 hours in service, firefighters used QRVs to respond to 23 out of 24 service calls. The one call where a Quick Response Vehicle was not used came while a QRV was already dispatched on a medical call. WCES used a QRV to respond to 39 of 44 calls last week.

The addition of these QRVs comes at no added expense to the taxpayer, and will provide Walker County residents with significant savings. WCES repurposed trucks used to battle brush fires. In addition, the department relocated medical and extrication equipment from fire engines for this new service.

QRVs are more cost effective to maintain than fire engines, get twice as much gas mileage and will improve response times. They also allow WCES to extend the life span of existing fire engines, since these 35,000+ pound units will now be used to primarily respond to residential and commercial fires.

Each QRV is staffed with a minimum of two firefighters.