Woodstock Fire Department stays busy with more than rescues.
The Woodstock Fire Department puts out fires and responds to various emergencies, along with many things that may go unnoticed. At a recent Main Street Woodstock networking event, Fire Chief Dave Soumas, Assist Chief/Fire Marshal Jimmy Eley and Community Outreach Coordinator Sgt. George Williams shed light on other elements of the department’s responsibilities.
- Two-thirds of the 52 fire department members are available for rescue missions on the Taylor Randahl Memorial Bike Trails at Olde Rope Mill Park. While there isn’t a designed bike team, “we have many on each shift, so someone is always available,” Williams said. The trails attracted about 200,000 visitors last year, according to Woodstock Parks and Recreation Director Preston Pooser.
- A partnership with the Home Depot and local homeowner associations ensure that fire alarms in older-neighborhood homes are installed or updated.
- Safety in the workplace sessions are held in local businesses and senior living facilities, helping employees formulate an escape plan in case of fire.
- The department partners with nonprofits in many ways, including Woodstock Public Safety Foundation and Shop With a Hero, providing EMS support for numerous 5K races and trail races within the city, and a partnership with Safe Kids worldwide. Locally, parents can schedule a child safety car seat check online at www.cherokeecountyfire.org or www.safekidscherokeecounty.org.
- A partnership with Woodstock Elementary reaches out to students in kindergarten, second and fourth grades. Fire officials bring the county’s Fire Safety House, where kindergarteners can experience a smoke-filled room, exit and go to a meeting place. Firefighters teach second-graders how to exit their home, stay low and go, who to call for help, and other safety basics. In fourth grade, a 3½-day program through science classes includes time spent studying a workbook, and creating a personal plan that guides students in creating a personal fire safety escape plan and designating meeting places for their families.
- An annual open house at the station on Arnold Mill Road will take place this year 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 13. Open to the community, the day is filled with a free lunch, inflatables, music, games for the children, an extrication demonstration and other activities. More than 3,500 people visited last year.
- Woodstock’s police and fire departments partner to present the Citizen Public Safety Academy, an 11-week course that begins Aug. 30. Meetings are held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays and participants take field trips to the training center to witness a vehicle extrication, and learn how a thermal imaging camera works. A trip to the sheriff’s department training center offers a lesson on judgmental shooting. To apply, visit www.woodstockga.gov.
During a brief question and answer session, Williams explained why a fire truck accompanies an ambulance on emergency visits. “The biggest reason is because there are more fire trucks than ambulances. The equipment on each vehicle is the same, except a fire truck doesn’t have a stretcher,” Williams said. Because the goal is to get care to the scene as quickly as possible, both vehicles are dispatched.
Officials are looking at possible locations for a new fire station in the following areas: Ridgewalk Parkway, Long Drive near BJs Wholesale Club off Highway 92, and Stone Bridge in Towne Lake. “We are closer to locations on Long Drive and Ridgewalk Parkway,” Williams said.
To get more information for visits to your HOA or safety in the workplace for your business, call Williams at 770-592-6000 ext. 1845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Candi Hannigan, executive editor of Around Woodstock