Former fire chief says 24-hour department eventually needed

News
David Sellers

UPDATED

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – David Sellers, a former fire chief with Towns County Fire & Rescue, presented the history of the local fire department this week at the Towns County Courthouse, wrapping up the discussion with closing words for the public.

“We have full-time firefighters in Young Harris and Hiawassee, and they’re there for the day, Monday through Friday,” Sellers said. “But then on the weekends and at nighttime, the firefighters have to get up out of their beds, get their clothes on, get in their car, get to the fire station, and get a truck out and hope that some other firefighters are going to show up – which they will. But what we need eventually is full-time firefighters, 24-hours every single day so that there’s somebody there to bring that truck out whether it’s rescue or fire. So let’s hope the county can work on that, and one day we’ll have that soon.”

Sellers served as a firefighter for the City of Young Harris in the 1980s, which later incorporated the City of Hiawassee through a mutual aid contract. Towns County Fire Department was formed in 1985 with Sellers appointed as chief by former Commissioner Truman Barrett. Present-day Fire Chief Harold Copeland initially served as Sellers’ assistant chief. Copeland attended the courthouse presentation.

Towns County Fire Rescue

Local firefighters, circa 1960.

Click to view Towns County Fire & Rescue Activity Reports

Towns County Fire and Rescue consists of six fire stations strategically located throughout the jurisdiction. Volunteer firefighters are primarily assigned to the station located nearest their residence, paid-on-call in the event of emergencies. Volunteer firefighters are registered with the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council and must complete a live-fire training requirement to become Registered Volunteer Firefighters.

 

FetchYourNews.com attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach. Approximately 15,000 viewers visit FYNTV.com – If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

“Ready-Set-Go” develops dialogue between fire departments and citizens

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Executive Director of Chestatee-Chattahoochee RC&D Frank Riley encouraged the community to take action against wildfire danger, a viable threat to the forest lands of Southern Appalachia. The highest hazard months for wildfires in North Georgia traditionally occur in November, March, and April due to low humidity and high winds, leaving dry vegetation vulnerable to sparks of ignition, Riley said.

Riley explained that precautions can be taken to lessen the risks associated with wildfires by participation in the “Ready-Set-Go” program. Ready-Set-Go is administered by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and aims to prepare first responders and citizens for wildfires. The program’s tenets help residents be “Ready” in understanding preparedness, become “Set” with situational awareness when fire threatens, and to “Go” early when evacuation is necessary.

“Look at what happened in Towns and Rabun Counties a couple of years ago,” Riley reminded. “A raging wildfire bringing in firefighters from all over the world, air tankers, bulldozers, and many dollars for all the tools necessary to protect property from raging wildfires. We were not really prepared, but that should have been a wake-up call for all of us to be prepared for the next round of wildfires in our neighborhood with programs such as Ready-Set-Go.”

Used in conjunction with FireWise principles, lives and property can be saved, Riley said in part. “Ready-Set-Go also bring fire departments and residents together to build important understanding, preparedness, and action. Our Firewise programs here in Northeast Georgia are making a difference by making our residents aware of the wildfire risks all around them and the numbers prove it. We have held full scale Ready-Set-Go evacuation exercises in 2015 in Towns County, and in 2016 in White County with very good results. The emergency responders practiced what they do best; protect property from wildfires under controlled conditions, and residents experienced what it would be like under a real fire threat.”

Riley provided valuable tips in reducing wildfire risks, such as clearing debris and maintaining landscape within a 100 to 200 foot radius of structures, offered recommendations for fire-resistant home design, and stressed the importance of community engagement in taking a fire-adapted approach to wildfire risks.

For further information on how to become Firewise and develop a Ready-Set-Go action plan, contact Chestatee-Chattahoochee RD&C Council at www.info.ccrcd@gmail.com

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report: 8/28-9/10

Incident Report
Towns County Fire Rescue

Incident Report provided by Towns County Fire and Rescue:

8/28/17

Medical assist (3)
Assist other agency (1)
Fire alarm (1)

8/29/17

Medical assist (4)
Landing zone (1)
Assist other agency (1)
Public service (1)

8/30/17

Medical assist (5)

8/31/17

Medical assist (5)
Public service (1)
Fire alarm (1)

9/1/17

Medical assist (3)
Landing zone (1)
Unauthorized burning (1)

9/2/17

Medical assist (3)
MVA (1)
Landing zone (1)
Fire alarm (1)
Public service (1)
No incident found on arrival (1)

9/3/17

Medical assist (3)
MVA (3)
No incident found on arrival (1)

9/4/17

Medical assist (4)
MVA (1)
Landing zone (1)

9/5/17

Medical assist (2)
MVA (2)
Public service (1)
Controlled burn (1)

9/6/17

Medical assist (2)

9/7/17

Medical assist (3)
Fire alarm (1)

9/8/17

Medical assist (3)
Fire alarm (1)

9/9/17

Medical assist (3)
MVA (1)
Fire alarm (1)

9/10/17

Medical assist (6)
Landing zone (1)

Overnight Fire Destroys Hiawassee Home

News

Hiawassee, GA – Towns County 911 dispatched Fire and Rescue to 1383 Konahetah Drive in Hiawassee at approximately 11:28 pm on Monday night, July 24, in response to a fully involved structure fire.

The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on scene.

There were no human injuries although the family’s dog sadly perished. The home was completely destroyed, a “total loss.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Fetch Your News will provide more details as they become available.

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report: 7/31 – 8/6

Community, News
Towns County Fire Department

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report:

7/31/17 — Medical assist (5)

8/1/17 — Medical assist (2)
Controlled burn (1)

8/2/17 — Medical assist (1)
Assist other agency (1)

8/3/17 — Medical assist (4)
MVA (2)
Smoke investigation (1)
Assist other agency (1)
Public service (2)

8/4/17 — Medical assist (4)
MVA (1)
Landing zone (1)
Assist other agency (1)

8/5/17 — Medical assist (3)
Trail rescue (1)
Illegal burn (1)
Brush fire (1)
Assist other agency (1)

8/6/17 — Medical assist (4)
Illegal burn (1)

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report

Incident Report, News
Towns County Fire Rescue

 Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report : 9/25 – 10/1

9/25/17  

Medical assist (5)

Controlled burn (1)

MVA (1)

9/26/17 

Medical assist (9)

Landing zone (1)

9/27/17 

Medical assist (1)

9/28/17 

Medical assist (10)

MVA (2)

Assist other agency (1)

Public service (1)

9/29/17   

Medical assist (4)

MVA (1)

9/30/17  

Medical assist (1)

Landing zone (1)

10/01/17

Medical assist (2)

Landing zone (2)

Fire alarm (2)

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

 

Burglary Suspect Apprehended After Lake Pursuit

Press Release
Nathan Brice Garrett

Hiawassee Police Department

Resort evacuated overnight, Highway 75 south suffers erosion

News
Highway 75 South

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Heavy rainfall from subtropical storm Alberto resulted in the flooding of Enchanted Valley RV Resort, located off Highway 75 south, during the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Towns County first responders arrived on scene to assist in evacuation efforts. The mobile home park borders the Hiawassee River.

Towns County CodeRed emergency alert system began notifying residents of impending danger shortly before midnight Tuesday, May 29.

Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland told FetchYourNews he has never seen water rise to such levels so rapidly.

Enchanted Valley RV Resort

“The water was waist high in some areas, and I am 6 foot 3. I’ve never seen water run so fast,” Copeland said. “We cut off power as a safety precaution, and evacuated between ten to a dozen people.” Copeland said some residents were walked out while others were evacuated via a county vehicle. Approximately 30 residents were sheltered at Macedonia Baptist Church and Towns County Recreation Center overnight. Electricity was restored to the area at approximately 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 30.

Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) has reported that Highway 75 south, north of Helen, between Robertstown and Unicoi Gap, is currently closed to traffic due to erosion from the recent rainfall.  Motorists are being diverted to a detoured route while road crews repair the damage.

Abundant moisture will remain across the area today with periods of showers and thunderstorms. Additional rainfall of one to 1.5 inches is expected, with higher amounts in localized areas. Some of these amounts could fall within a short period of time. Creek and river levels are already above average, and it will not take much additional rainfall to cause levels to rise above bank height. High waters may not recede until well after the rain has ended. A flood watch remains in effect until further notice.

 

 

[Feature photo: Highway 76 south, credit Georgia DOT]

[Enchanted Valley RV Park, credit Ella Whelchel]

 

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report: 8/7 – 8/13

News
Towns County Fire Rescue

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report – August 7 – August 13, 2017

8/7/17
Public service (1)

8/8/17
Medical assist (4)
MVA (1)
Assist other agency (1)

8/9/17
Medical assist (3)

8/10/17
Medical assist (8)
Assist other agency (2)

8/11/17
Medical assist (2)
Landing zone (1)
Fire alarm (1)
Smoke/odor removal (1)

8/12/17
Medical assist (2)
Fire alarm (1)

8/13/17
Medical assist (3)

2017 Towns County Fire Corps Fundraiser

Community, News

HIAWASSEE, GA – Towns County Fire Corps is requesting donations from the community to purchase much needed equipment. As recent wildfires raged in northern Georgia and throughout several southern states, Towns County Fire and Rescue recognized a need for standard wildland gear. The Fire Corps hopes to purchase a Polaris 6×6 Utility Vehicle in order to travel the rugged trails and abundant off road areas throughout the county.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Additional funds raised will provide training and safety products for the firefighters.

57 volunteer firefighters serve Towns County and 2123 calls were dispatched in 2016 alone, an increase of 350 additional calls from the previous year. In addition to managing structure, brush and wildland fires, Towns County firefighters also assist Emergency Medical Services, perform vehicle extrication and hazardous material mitigation, and conduct land/lake rescues. The Appalachian Trail winds through the eastern portion of the county and hiker assistance is a common occurrence.

To join the Flame Fighters Club, send your sponsorship donation to:

Towns County Fire Corps
PO Box 118
Hiawassee, GA 30546

Platinum Sponsor $300.00
Gold Sponsor $200.00
Silver Sponsor $100.00
Bronze Sponsor $50.00

The Fire Corps appreciates contributions of any amount. All donations are tax deductible.

Towns County Fire Rescue Incident Report: 8/21-8/27

Incident Report
Towns County Fire Rescue

Towns County Fire and Rescue Weekly Incident Report

 

8/21/17

Medical assist (8)
Fire alarm (1)
Assist other agency (1)
Public service (1)
No incident found on arrival (1)

 

8/22/17

Medical assist (4)
Landing zone (1)
Controlled burn (1)
Public service (1)

 

8/23/17

Medical assist (7)
Landing zone (1)
Controlled burn (1)
Public service (1)

 

8/24/17

Fire alarm (2)
Medical assist (1)
Assist other agency (1)

 

8/25/17

Medical assist (4)
Fire alarm (1)
Vehicle fire (1)

 

8/26/17

Medical assist (3)

 

8/27/17

Medical assist (4)

Suspect arrested for arson and burglary

News
Austin James Shook

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – During the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, a structure fire was reported at a residence located on Glassy Mountain Road in Bald Mountain Park.  The residence was not occupied at the time of the fire.  Upon further investigation, it was determined that the residence was burglarized prior to the start of the fire.

Towns County Sheriff’s Investigators executed a search warrant at a suspect’s residence located near the scene of the fire and burglary, recovering evidence related to the crime.  Sheriff’s Investigators arrested Austin James Shook, 19, of Hiawassee, Georgia, charging him with two counts of burglary in the first degree, one count of possession of burglary tool, and one count of arson in the first degree.

The investigation is active and ongoing at this time.  As the investigation proceeds, additional charges are likely.

Towns County Fire and Rescue Disaster Drill

News

Towns County EMA Deputy Director Brandon Walls and GEMA Homeland Security Coordinator Dave Shakes

Towns County, GA – Towns County Fire and Rescue participated in an emergency preparedness drill on Monday, August 14. The drill was implemented and evaluated by local and state Emergency Management Agencies (EMA). This year’s mock scenario was a tornado disaster which touched down at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.

Under the supervision of their Pack Leaders, Towns County Cub Scouts, Den #407, played the role of “victims” to provide realistic training for the firefighters involved. The scouts, along with other volunteers, gathered at Anderson Music Hall located on the fairgrounds. Each participant was assigned “injuries” ranging from broken legs to serious trauma by an EMA director.

The group then positioned themselves throughout the dimly lit music hall shortly before 5 p.m. and awaited the arrival of first responders. The firefighters involved were unaware of the situation and the location of the drill until their “tones dropped” at the start of the exercise. The dispatched call relayed a tornado had touched down during a weather event which resulted in the structure of the arena collapsing.

Towns County Cub Scouts, Den #407

Firefighters arrived on scene, assessed the situation, and suited up in their gear to begin the search for “victims” of the tragedy inside. Those who were able to walk were lead to a triage station outdoors. Those who could not were triaged inside of the concert hall.

Fetch Your News correspondent, Robin Webb, was invited to play the role of a “pesky reporter”, along with other reporters who covered the drill, by EMA Deputy Director Brandon Walls. She was instructed to hinder first responders by attempting to learn information and gain access to restricted areas in order to test the response of firefighters. After a short time inside the arena, she was asked to remain in the parking area.

The media is typically prohibited from passing beyond the set perimeter of real life emergency scenes.

Meanwhile on Lake Chatuge, which borders the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, a secondary scenario was taking place. The training consisted of a search and rescue effort conducted by the Towns County Fire and Rescue Dive Team.

Towns County Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Harold Koppell

According to Captain Terry Parker, three boaters were said to have been on the lake when the tornado tossed them into the water. One boater was still with the vessel, another, simulated by a mannequin, was said to have been seen clinging to a fence, while the third boater’s whereabouts were unknown. Cadaver dogs were called while a land search ensued. The male “victim” was located in a ditch, alive but “injured”.

When asked how he thought the crew performed, Battalion Chief Harold Koppell said he felt they did well for the first drill of this type. “It took a little while to get in there, but in a real life situation you don’t want to go in like gangbusters. That’s how people get hurt,” Koppell explained.

The exercise ended with a group briefing attended by Fire Chief Harold Copeland and Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw.

Chief Copeland tells Fetch Your News the purpose of the exercise was to test the firefighters strengths and discover aspects which could be improved upon.

“We never stop training,” Chief Copeland affirmed.

Towns County Fire and Rescue Activity Report

Incident Report, News
Towns County Fire Department

Towns County Fire and Rescue Incident Report –

5/21/18 – 6/3/18

 

5/21

  • Medical Assist – 1
  • Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) – 1

5/22

  • Medical Assist – 3
  • Fire Alarm – 1

5/23

  • Medical Assist – 3

5/24

  • Medical Assist – 3
  • MVA – 2

5/25

  • Medical Assist – 2
  • Public Service – 1

5/26

  • Medical Assist – 1
  • Public Service – 1

5/27

  • Medical Assist – 3
  • Propane Leak – 1

5/28

  • Medical Assist – 7
  • Fire Alarm – 1
  • Assist Other Agency – 1

5/29

  • Medical Assist – 1
  • MVA – 1
  • Power Line Down – 1

5/30

  • Medical Assist – 6
  • Flood Evacuation – 1
  • Fire Alarm – 1

5/31

  • Medical Assist – 2
  • MVA – 1
  • Controlled Burn – 1

6/1

  • Medical Assist – 1
  • MVA – 2
  • Public Service – 1

6/2

  • Medical Assist – 1
  • Search for Missing Person – 1

6/3

  • Medical Assist – 2
  • MVA – 1
  • Controlled Burn – 1

 

 

New fire station to be built in Young Harris

News

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – A new fire station is in the future for Towns County Fire and Rescue in Young Harris, with a bid package offered on the project as of today.

“We’re going to build a firehouse in Young Harris,” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw stated. “Originally, I wanted to use detainee labor to build it complete, everything. We can’t do that.”

Bradshaw explained that after consulting with Towns County Building Inspector John Paul Peoples, the commissioner learned that 17-foot high walls, and 14-foot doors, are necessary for construction. The initial construction will involve professionals, with detainees joining in the effort thereafter.

“What we are going to do is put a bid package together,” Bradshaw explained. “We’re going to put a metal building out for bid. Not the slab, not the plumbing right now, because we’re going to contract most of that out ourselves to try and save money. Then, of course, we’ll take the best bid when the bids come in, to see who’s most qualified, learn their history.

“Then after that, we will use detainee labor to go in and frame the walls for the bathroom, the front office, and then we are going to have like a day-room,” Bradshaw continued. “We are going to build the building with the future in mind that if we ever had a full-time fire department that there would be a shower there with a bathroom, and then a room with a bed, and stuff like that. It’s a lot cheaper to try and do it now than add on later.”

Commissioner Bradshaw said the county has yet to set a due date for placed bids, but hopes to announce the bids at his July 17 meeting.

“This fire house is going to be a drive-through. It will have two bay doors on the back, big garage doors, and two on the front so that you can drive all the way through. The fire trucks will sit in there bumper-to-bumper, and in case of an emergency, they just hit the button, raise the door, and out they go,” Bradshaw added.

The Young Harris fire station will be built on state Route 66, approximately 1.25 miles from U.S. Highway 76. The current station is located in the former Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) building, a few blocks west of Young Harris College.

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!