HIAWASSEE, Ga. – While the advantages of living in a forested land are plenty, the natural environment also poses risks such as the potential for wildfires. Towns County Firewise President Michael Courey met with the community this week to promote a tool designed to protect homes from such an event.
A gutter-attaching sprinkler system designed by WASP, a Canadian-based company, is designed to spray water on homes, deterring an approaching wildfire from engaging the structure. Courey displayed the product, explaining that a garden hose connects to the device, projecting water over the building and up to 30 feet beyond. “It offers a way of decreasing the risk of a forest fire impacting your home. It’s good for flying embers that go up and lodge themself in the eaves of your home or even around your home in the small crevices. So it will saturate the ground after a period of time and decrease that,” Courey said.
The cost of the complete Wildfire Protection Kit, which includes two sprinkler devices and two hoses, is $175 if ordered directly through the company. The dual sprinklers, however, can be purchased at a lower price without the hose attachments. Courey stressed during the presentation that Firewise does not benefit from the sale of the product, other than gaining peace of mind that homeowners are better protected.
“Many homes lost to wildfire burn from the roof down, started from these windblown embers,” WASP Wildfire Prevention explains. “These spot fires often occur many miles from the fire itself, even if the fire is contained. It makes sense that one of the smartest ways to help protect your home is to keep the roof and surrounding area wet. One of the advantages of the WASP Gutter Mount Sprinkler System is it can be turned on and left on during an evacuation. Deployed by an extendable pole, the lightweight bracket easily and quickly attaches to the existing gutters on most homes. Installs in minutes…no ladder or tools required! Complete with high-quality agricultural grade sprinkler heads rated up to a 33’ (10m) spray radius (Spray radius is dependent on water pressure. Actual results may vary). The head is a tenth the weight of standard brass sprinkler heads and is non-impact, conserving water and able to work with very low pressure. Incredibly durable and reliable! Water is supplied from your home’s existing hose taps.”
Towns County Firewise Communities Citizen Coalition is comprised of local, state and federal fire managers, RC&D, and local officials that promote wildfire education and prevention in the area.
HIAWASSEE, GA. – Towns County Fire and Rescue entered into an annual agreement with the Georgia Forestry Commission last week during a special-called meeting at the county courthouse. Each agency mutually agreed to provide support for fire prevention programs which will increase the public awareness of the hazards and destruction of fire and serve to make the objectives of the memorandum possible.
The Georgia Forestry Commission will dispatch a crew to any known forest, brush, or grass fire, or to any fires of unknown nature. The commission will cooperate with the county emergency structure by responding to wildland fires as dispatched. Towns County Fire & Rescue will additionally dispatch a crew to any known structure fire, wildland fire, or any fire of unknown nature. Upon arrival at the scene, the Georgia Forestry Commission will provide command and control for wildland fire suppression and will coordinate with Towns County Fire & Rescue for protection of life and property threatened by a wildland fire. The state agency will immediately advise the county department of any burning or threatened structure within the area.
Towns County Fire & Rescue will provide command and control for structural fire suppression and will cooperate with the Georgia Forestry Commission for protection of life and property threatened by structural fires. The fire department will immediately advise the state division of any burning or threatened natural cover fuels within the area and request and/or provide assistance as needed. This agreement in no way restricts either agency from taking action in an emergency situation to save lives and property regardless of the nature of a fire, either wildland or structural.
When both agencies are at the same fire, overall command and control of the incident shall lie with the agency concerned most directly with what is burning. If both woods and structures are on fire simultaneously, each agency shall endeavor to initiate unified command and provide support to each other to ensure shared resources are used effectively, public and firefighter safety, and efficient incident stability. All fire organizations involved should endeavor to accomplish wildland fire certifications and provide wildland fire personal protective equipment for firefighters who are subject to respond to wildland fires. Only the Georgia Forestry Commission can authorize the use of backfires. The intended use of state personnel and equipment is to provide protection/suppression relative only to wildland fires; i.e. grass, forested lands, brush, and trees. State fire personnel are not trained, nor do they possess sufficient personal protective equipment to allow them to function in environments other than those listed above.
Each agency agreed to attend, participate, and assist in the other agency’s training program. The authority having jurisdiction will be responsible to ensure that all persons participating in training and wildland or structural fire suppression activities meet established qualifications and are properly equipped
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 email@example.com
NEWS FLASH: WE LIVE IN THE FOREST. Fully 70% of Towns County is Federal or State Forest. And when you live in the Forest, you must be aware of Forest Fires. That’s why we are glad to welcome back dear friend Mr. Frank Riley, he of all things Fire Safety related, as he introduces us to Towns County’s new Firewise Communities Coordinator, Mr. Michael Courey. For the un-enlightened, Firewise is the way to be in these Mountains. Teaming with the County, Communities(such as Wood Lake, where I live) get together, remove underbrush, combustibles and such, and generally agree to keep the Community in good order. Towns County is a leader nationally in the number of Communities that are Firewise and Fire Aware. Get to the Sundance Grill early this Friday, February 15 to learn how you can get your Community involved. Be wise, be Firewise.
Do you belong to a local Organization or are you an Elected Official with information that affects our Community? Then why not join us and fill us in on what’s going on! Everyone is invited to come hear what our weekly Guest Speakers have to say, and we have always had a few minutes for impromptu Speakers with pertinent information. Everyone is invited for Conversation, Information and Breakfast with the Mountain Movers and Shakers. Our Non-Partisan Group meets at 8am every Friday at The Sundance Grill, a great place to meet, and the food is really good and reasonably priced. So come join us… You are sure to find Interesting Speakers, Championship Caliber Youth, and a fine group of Friendly Mountain Folk! The More People Know, the More People Know…
Raging fires have been spreading through dry land in the North Georgia Mountains for weeks. A few sprinkles of rain fell in the past few days but really didn’t make much of an impact.
The local community appreciates the firefighters and a local church in Chatsworth decided to show it on Thanksgiving Day! The First Baptist Church of Chatsworth fed over 400 out of town firefighters who didn’t make it home to be with their families. Locals from various areas including Blue Ridge brought food to the Church to assist in the program to feed the firefighters. Much of the food cooked in their homes and a local Ingles Market also took orders from those who wanted to donate a meal but didn’t have time to cook.
A local man told us, “It’s a small effort to say a big thank you to those firefighters protecting us and our homes.”
Firefighters have been working tirelessly for weeks to battle the wildfires and a home cooked meal of turkey was an extension of the gratitude felt by the folks in the North Georgia Mountains.
Rough Ridge Fire Update
Chattahoochee National Forest
November 12, 2016
Rough Ridge Fire Information: 470.208.2839
An area of high pressure will build into the region from the north and bring east to northeast winds today and freezing temperatures tonight. Maximum Temperature is 62F. Minimum Relative Humidity will 30%. Winds are expected to be East 6 – 11 mph then becoming 4-9 mph around 11am. Smoke will start settling in low areas around 7pm.
Yesterday: The monitor in Ellijay recorded hourly concentrations classified as very unhealthy, while drifting smoke resulted in a moderate AQI in Chatsworth and Blue Ridge.
Today: The upper level winds (5 to 7 miles per hour) are slowly dispersing the smoke in a southwesterly or westerly direction. Communities in the flow of the smoke may experience very unhealthy air quality.
Smoke impacts should be low in most of the communities listed below with the predicted weather pattern and anticipated fire behavior.
Tomorrow: Winds speeds will increase slightly (upper level winds between 6 to 8 miles per hour) and switch direction from Chatsworth/Eton to Benton and Ocoee and then Blue Ridge. These communities may experience an AQI of code orange or red.
Winds will disperse the smoke away from McCaysville.
Smoke will disperse towards Blue Ridge after the sun sets on Sunday.
Winds will disperse the smoke away from Ellijay.
Chatsworth and Eton
Today, already recorded hourly concentrations classified as very unhealthy. Smoke from wildfire dispersing towards Chatsworth and Eton today and a portion of tomorrow.
Benton and Ocoee, TN
Early tomorrow morning the winds shift toward Benton and Ocoee, TN.
Disclaimer: Weather and fire activity may change quickly and alter these air quality predictions. AQI estimates for the communities do not represent a full 24-hour period but, rather, reflect a period within the day where smoke impacts would be greatest.
Air Quality Index
What the Index means for your health with regards to particulates from smoke
Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects.