LAUREL of Northeast Georgia June 22

Page 80

Just Thinking

Rabun County Fire Personnel – Thank You! by Tracy McCoy

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his month we seek to show our appreciation for our local firemen, volunteer and paid. Day after day they stand ready to respond to fires, and aid their comrades at EMS, Rabun Rescue, and our Law Enforcement. While everyone mentioned in that previous sentence deserve recognition and praise, this issue will focus on Rabun County Fire Services. For this article I spoke with the Clayton Fire Department’s Assistant Chief, Justin Upchurch, one of only ten paid personnel at the city’s fire department. It was an interesting interview and I learned many things I didn’t know.

2 firefighters around the clock. Staff works a 24hr on and 72hr off schedule so that there is always someone ready to come to your aid. Each department is equipped with 1 Fire Engine, 1 Tanker, all but one has a Rescue Truck and a Brush Fire apparatus. Our county has two fire boats to protect homes on the lake and to pump water out of the lake to the Tanker trucks to fight fires. When a call comes in no matter where in the county it is one of our paid firefighters come. The first to respond to you will likely be one of our many volunteers who may be able to get to your emergency faster than those coming from Clayton. Many times if the issue is easily resolved the full-time firefighter will be called to turn around if they are not needed. “When Covid-19 emerged, things changed a bit to protect volunteers and the public. Paid staff responded with aid from EMS, either from Clayton or Dillard.” Justin explained.

There are twelve stations in Rabun County, two of which are not controlled by the county. These two stations operated under their own policies and procedures and have their own Chief. The other ten stations are controlled by Rabun County and staffed mostly by volunteers. The Fire Chief of Rabun County is James Reed. What I didn’t know was that to be a volunteer fireman you must complete Justin and I talked about fundraisers, something most departments training that is the very similar to that of paid staff. Paid firefighters have annually. Another thing that Covid-19 changed was that are required to earn their state firefighter certification by completing fundraisers were cancelled for most all departments. I asked if the 340-hour Basic Firefighter Training that had hurt the fire departments at all. “Our Program. This is an option for volunteers but County Commissioners take great care of the is not required. Volunteers are required to be departments. The extra money brought into Thank you each and every physically fit and strong. The job is physically each department helps to purchase extra member of these departments demanding. You can rest assured that your equipment or things the department needs. The for the role you play in volunteer fire department is staffed with men greater benefit of these fundraisers is for folks to keeping us safe. and women who are well trained and fully gather in support of the volunteers. To become capable to respond to the calls. familiar with members and boost morale. Many Station 1 – Clayton “Rabun County takes very good care of their of these fundraisers became traditions and that Station 2 – Warwoman fire departments. All of our departments is their greatest value.”, said Justin. Station 3 – Tallulah/Persimmon have what they need to fight a fire. As All of us at the Laurel and our readers extend Station 4 – Lakemont/Wiley trucks age out, they are replaced and Rabun our gratitude to all of our firefighters and their Station 5 – Valley County has a total of 60 apparatuses over Chiefs in each department in our county and Station 6 – Chechero twelve departments. Seventy percent of our the surrounding counties as well. The sacrifices Station 7 – Tallulah Falls firefighters have completed an Emergency you are willing to make for others is humbling. Medical Responder course. Many of them Station 8 – Satolah The lives you save and the work that you do, well are full time EMT/Paramedics who volunteer Station 9 – Sky Valley there aren’t enough words to express our thanks. at our station.” Justin explained. The Clayton Station 10 – The Lakes A special shout out to Dalton Freeman who is Fire Department is the only one under county Station 11 – Wildcat part of our Laurel family and on staff with Rabun control that is staffed 24/7. The office is open Station 12 – Tiger County Fire Services. Monday-Friday. The firehouse is staffed by 78 - www.laurelofnortheastgeorgia.com - June 2022