County fire dept. ex­pe­ri­ences year of pos­i­tive growth

No fire fa­tal­i­ties were re­ported for 2007

The Covington News - - Front Page - By Rachel Oswald

Though New­ton County Fire Ser­vice re­sponded to 200 more calls in 2007 than it did in 2006, the ma­jor­ity of the de­part­ment’s calls were for emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices.

Fire Ser­vice an­swered 5,106 emer­gency calls last year, ac­cord­ing to the end of year re­port pre­sented by New­ton County Fire Chief Mike Sat­ter­field to the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers at their meet­ing Tues­day night.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, 56 per­cent or 2,866 of last year’s emer­gency calls were for emer­gency med­i­cal help.

Sat­ter­field told the board his de­part­ment re­sponded to the high level of emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice calls by train­ing as many of its fire­fight­ers as pos­si­ble as emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cians.

In its first spon­sored EMT class, fire ser­vices saw 23 of its fire­fight­ers cer­ti­fied last fall.

Sat­ter­field said the de­part­ment has added an EMT cer­ti­fi­ca­tion re­quire­ment to its re­quire­ments for pro­mo­tion within fire ser­vices. The BOC also ap­proved a small pay in­cen­tive for fire­fight­ers who be­come EMTs.

The county’s fire de­part­ment has six full-time fire sta­tions which are op­er­ated 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Fire sta­tions No. 1, lo­cated on the By­pass, No. 9, lo­cated on Mount Zion Road and No. 14, lo­cated on Ga. High­way 212, re­sponded to the high­est num­ber of calls in the year. Those sta­tions are all lo­cated in heav­ily de­vel­oped parts of the county. Fire sta­tion No. 1, which serves as head­quar­ters for Fire Ser­vices, re­sponded to the most calls of any sta­tion: 1,412.

Sat­ter­field said de­part­ment re­sponse times had de­creased slightly over­all com­pared to fig­ures from 2006, though he said av­er­age re­sponse times for 2007 were not yet avail­able.

“Our over­all re­sponse time varies greatly,” Sat­ter­field said.

Sat­ter­field said re­sponse times will con­tinue to de­crease once the sev­enth full-time fire sta­tion on Brown Bridge Road goes on­line later this year.

In 2007, there were only 186 struc­ture fire calls, 302 tree/brush/grass fires and 199 unau­tho­rized burn­ing calls. Fire Ser­vices re­sponded to on av­er­age 14 calls a day.

The de­part­ment saw zero fa­tal­i­ties in 2007 though there has al­ready been one fa­tal­ity this year, an el­derly man who died in a house fire on Elks Club Road in Fe­bru­ary.

Sat­ter­field said the de­part­ment ex­pe­ri­enced a marked in­crease in ve­hi­cle fires last year, 144. Sat­ter­field at­trib­uted the in­crease to car thieves steal­ing cars from out­side of the county and then burn­ing them inside the county’s borders.

Sat­ter­field said a new method of cat­e­go­riz­ing the level of re­sponse to small or non­re­source de­mand­ing calls al­lowed the de­part­ment to in­crease the num­ber of units sent out to struc­ture fires or other po­ten­tially high re­source de­mand­ing calls. Sat­ter­field said this switch also al­lowed the de­part­ment to re­duce costs.

Other high­lights from Fire Ser­vice’s 2007 re­port:

Last year eight ar­rests were made for ar­son with five con­vic­tions and three cases pend­ing.

The de­part­ment’s fire­fight­ers now av­er­age more than 20 hours of in-ser­vice train­ing each month for a to­tal of 9,106 train­ing hours in 2007.

In 2007, Fire Ser­vices gave 303 fire safety lec­tures to var­i­ous civic or­ga­ni­za­tions, busi­nesses and school groups. In Oc­to­ber, 4,719 school chil­dren were given lessons in fire safety dur­ing the de­part­ment’s first Fire Safety Blitz.

A sup­ply build­ing, con­structed by fire­fight­ers, was com­pleted at the end of the year. Con­struc­tion took 14 weeks. Sat­ter­field said hav­ing the build­ing has im­proved the ac­qui­si­tion and dis­burse­ment of needed sup­plies and equip­ment.

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