Georgia State Page


 North Georgia Fire Prevention & Education Team Haralson and Polk Counties, GA



Phone: 706-988-6856


 After working on Arson and other local Human Caused Wildfires the Team's focus changes to Education and Awarness in the Wildland Urban Interface. 









·         Mark Wiles                 Team Leader                 GFC, Elberton, GA

·         Don Walker                Team Leader (T)            USFS, Columbia, SC

·         Beryl Budd                 Team Member               GFC, Newborn. GA

·         Denise Croker            Team Member               GFC, Chief Ranger, Cedartown, GA

·         Shawn Diddie             Team Member               GFC, Forester, Statesboro, GA

·         Shannon Dean           Team Member               GFC, Chief Ranger Clarkesville, GA

·         Mark Sparrow             Team Member               GFC, WUI Specialist, Clayton, GA

·         Allison Segrest           Team Member               GFC, Communications Specialist, Macon, GA

·         Patrick Mahoney        Firewise Advisor            NFPA, Firewise Advisor, Florida

·         Eric Mosley                Team Liaison                 Georgia Forestry Commission


Newest reports and info posted first. For previous days reports please scroll down.

Daily Report

  May 22, 2013



The North Georgia Fire Prevention and Education Team 2013 worked to bring the North Georgia Campaign to a close today.  The final report was completed by Allison Segrest for the entire assignment, which included Polk, Haralson and Rabun Counties.  Shannon Dean and Mark Sparrow conducted the community assessment for Bear Gap, and started assembling the Firewise plan to include their recommendations.  Denise Croker wrote thank you letters to all of the supporting parties of the team to include Polk, Haralson and Rabun Counties.  Beryl Budd constructed a map using the Arcmap program to identify all of the communities contacted in Rabun County, which included the 2 Firewise Communities that were recently established in Rabun County.


The team did an excellent job meeting the objectives of their assignment.  Residents of Polk and Haralson are more aware of the real issues behind their wildfire problems, and are empowered with the knowledge that measures can be taken to reduce the number of arson fires in the area.  They also realize that most human caused fires can be reduced by exercising caution, and by utilizing the services of their local Georgia Forestry Commission professionals. The push to create Firewise communities in Polk and Haralson counties will help to secure all neighborhoods, but especially those in the neighborhoods that are plagued with a high number of human caused fires.


The team also played an intricate part in assessing and educating the communities in Rabun County.  We learned that the number of homes in this county that have been built on steep terrain, with limited fire protection is troubling for fire professionals and homeowners alike.  The Firewise program in this region is a must, and following the principles of this program for these property owners can truly make a difference in the event of a wildfire. 


The follow-up plan for this entire campaign is massive, and will extend well into the future.  The efforts of this team have been fruitful, and the hard work and commitment by all is appreciated.                    


Daily Report

  May 21, 2013



The morning safety briefing was conducted by Mark Wiles, the Prevention Team Leader. He cautioned the team to be extra careful concerning tornados in light of the events that recently took place in Oklahoma.  There was a brief discussion on what do if a team member found themselves in a situation involving tornado activity.   


Eric Mosley met with the U.S. Forest Service at Unicoi to discuss the role of prescribed fire and mitigation practices throughout the Southern Appalachians.  He is planning on presenting information on the Fire Adaptive Communities on Thursday.


Shannon Dean met with Mrs. Becky Callahan of the Lake Burtan Community to walk through the process of how to become a firewise community.  Because of the size of the community it will be broken up into several separate communities.  They will be meeting again on June 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm.


Mark Sparrow signed up the Bear Gap Community for the Community Firewise Program.  The application has been completed and the assessment will be conducted tomorrow.


Beryl Budd attended the realtors meeting this morning at the Remax office in Rabun County, where he presented the firewise program to a group of realtors. Denise Croker also presented the program to those present at the Senior Activities Center.






Allison Segrest created a link on the Rabun County website and dropped off firewise brochures and information at the courthouse.  She also will be on the agenda for the Board of Commissioners meeting in June.  In addition she reached out to Clayton Tribune for a follow up article next week.


Beryl Budd and Don Walker dropped off Firewise material at the USFS district office in Lakemont and the state park. This information will be passed out to people visiting these government facilities.


The team gave a firewise presentation during the county fire rescue training session at the Lakemont-Wiley training facility.  All of the county fire stations were represented with over 80 fire fighters in attendance.                                          


Mark Wiles, the Prevention Team Leader ended the day by discussing what was accomplished throughout the day.  In addition he discussed the events that were planned for the next day.




Daily Report

  May 20, 2013



The morning safety briefing was conducted by Don Walker, the Prevention Team Leader (T).  He cautioned each team members that the rainy weather conditions would continue throughout the day and to continue to exercise caution when driving. He requested that the team not only drive defensively but to be aware of other drivers on the road.   Mark Wiles, the Prevention Team Leader also stated that we should be extra careful and that we should slow down because wet roads increase the risk of hydroplaning.  The team also discussed what would be the appropriate action to take should a team member’s vehicle break down enroot to a given location.      


Eric Mosley and Mark Wiles of the North Georgia Fire Prevention & Education Team, along with Bobby Mashburn of the North Carolina Forest Service attended the city council meeting at Sky Valley to discuss the possibility of the Sky Valley becoming a Firewise Community.  There were 24 people in attendance at this meeting. This meeting spurred great interest, and a follow-up meeting with the Sky Valley property owners was scheduled for July 17th.  The Georgia Forestry Commission and the North Carolina Forest Service will work together as partners to usher Sky Valley into the Firewise program.



Mark Wiles of the North Georgia Fire Prevention & Education Team, along with Bobby  Mashburn  at Sky Valley.



Beryl Budd and Mark Sparrow conducted a Firewise Community Assessment of Camp Rainey Mountain Boy Scout Camp.  This community assessment begins the initial steps to making Camp Rainey Mountain a certified Firewise Community.  This assessment occurred on the heels of the annual Camp Rainey Mountain Clean-up Weekend, which occurred on May 17th, 18th and 19th.




Camp Rainy Mountain Boy Scout Camp. 






Scouts conduct clean up week at Camp Rainy



Mark Wiles, the Prevention Team Leader ended the day by discussing what was accomplished throughout the day.  In addition he discussed the events that were planned for the next day.






Daily Report

  May 19, 2013



The morning safety briefing was conducted by Mark Wiles the Prevention Team Leader.  He cautioned each team members to be more careful due to the rainy weather condition and increased weekend traffic. Because the team would be conducting a community wildfire Hazard Assessment, he instructed the team to pay attention to tripping hazards, ticks, the possibility of snakes and other outdoor hazards, since team would be in a field environment.     


Don Walker, Beryl Budd and Mark Wiles met with several homeowners from the Hampton Place Community, in Rabun County.  The team completed several home assessments and a community assessment.  They are in the process of enrolling them in the Firewise Community Program.


(L-R) Don Walker, Mark Wiles, and Allison Segrest discuss the Hampton Place Community assessment.


Don Walker and Allison Segrest conduct a homeowner’s assessment in the Hampton Place Community.


Walker, Budd, Wiles and Denise Croker met with Lake Burton Civic Association Board of Directors to discuss the possibility of Lake Burton becoming a Firewise Community.  The program was presented to 13 of its members and the team was invited back to present the Firewise program in addition to setting up a display during their annual Property Association picnic which general draw more than 200 property owners and their family members.


The Prevention Team presented the firewise program to the Lake Burton Civic Association Board.


Mark Wiles, the Prevention Team Leader ended the day by discussing what was accomplished throughout the day.  In addition he discussed the events that were planned for the next day.


Daily Report

  May 18th, 2013



Don Walker, Beryl Budd and Mark Wiles met with officials at Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Rainey Mountain in Rabun County.  This 500+ acre camp will be assessed by the team to become a potential Firewise community.  Walker, Budd and Wiles also visited with local Billingsley’s Garden Center about the distribution of flyers to their customers promoting the use of plants that are less flammable in their landscape.



Beryl Budd met with the firefighters at station 6 of the Rabun County Fire Department to discuss a possible Firewise training with fire fighters in the unit.  Beryl also had a more in-depth meeting with Boy Scouts of America to discuss future meetings with the nonprofit organization to complete the Firewise certification.  A presentation concerning the Firewise program will be given to the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America at their June meeting in Gainesville


Daily Report

  May 17th, 2013


Beryl made contacts in the following communities and/or subdivisions: WynnGate, Sylvan Lake Falls, Hickory Nut Mtn. and Northridge. Beryl also set up Firewise programs with Senior Center and Boy Scout Camp.   Denise contacted Lake Rabun Association, Ivy Wild and Smoke House Knob communities.   Allison Segrest met with city officials in the city of Tiger and the city of Clayton.  Allison was also able to work with the publisher of Laurel magazine to get a Firewise article published in the coming weeks. interviewed Mark Wiles, Don Walker and Shannon Dean, and actually accompanied the team in a Firewise community assessment in the 3 Shades of Tiger Community.

Denise met with Clayton Tribune Editor Blake Spurney, and gave Firewise press release, which will be in printed next week.  She contacted three banks, Rabun County Civic Center, Rabun Recreation Dept. and Wall-Greens about Firewise message being run on the electronic message boards.  All agreed to display “How Firewise are you?” this weekend and some agreed to display throughout the summer.





 Don, Mark, Denise and Beryl attended Rabun County Carnival and distributed firewise literature to approximately 150 spectators.  Firewise promotional items were provided to the crowd, there was 700 items distributed.


Rabun Carnival Firewise Campaign


Daily Report

  May 16th, 2013



Team members made contact with residents or leaders in the following communities and/or subdivisions:  Lake Rabun Bluff, Lake Burton, Sylvan Lake Falls, Sky Valley, Pinnacle Point, Spruce Creek, Shades of Tiger, and 6 Bear Gap. Four Homeowner’s Associations have agreed to allow Firewise presentations within the next few months.  Patrick Mahoney and Don Walker conducted a Firewise assessment in the Pinnacle Point community. The following cities agreed to meet with team members about the Firewise program:  Sky Valley, Tallulah Falls, Dillard, Tiger, and Clayton.  Allison Segrest scheduled meetings with city officials in the city of Tiger and the city of Clayton.


Radio Station Sky 104 interviewed Shannon Dean.  Dean set up an interview with for May 17, 2013.  Dean also met with the Clayton Tribune to discuss a potential Firewise article for the future.  Dean contacted Habersham Hills Cinema to inquire about showing a 30 second PSA on six screens for 365 days a year and seven days a week. 


Denise Croker created a Firewise press release for the Clayton Tribune.  Croker contacted local businesses and State Parks to place Firewise displays and distribute literature. 



Shawn Diddie presented a brief Firewise program to the Clayton Rotary Club.  45 members were present and 45 Firewise pamphlets were disbursed.  The Clayton Rotary Club extended an invitation for GFC to present a full length Firewise presentation in the future. 


Don Walker, Beryl Budd, and Denise Croker presented a Firewise program to the Dillard Fire Department.  12 people were in attendance and 100 Firewise materials were disbursed.  Community contacts were made in this meeting  for Wyngate and Sylvan Lake Communites.




Beryl Budd, Don Walker and Denise Croker present Firewise program to the Dillard Fire Department.


  Patrick Mahoney was a phenomenal resource to have as part of the team.  He shared excellent resources with team members and provided one on one training to several members.  Mahoney was definitely an asset and essential to many of the success stories for the North Georgia Fire Prevention & Education Team.




Daily Report

  May 15th, 2013



Patrick Mahoney presented a Firewise training program to the team members to introduce basic Firewise concepts.  Patrick Mahoney and Eric Mosley thoroughly answered team member questions related to the Firewise program.  Frank Riley spoke briefly about the Fire Adaptive Community (FAC) pilot project in Townes County that he supervises. Target communities and other sources for Firewise outreach were identified and team members were assigned different tasks to accomplish. The team then formulated a plan for spreading the Firewise message for the coming week.




A kickoff meeting occurred at the Rabun County EMA/Rescue

building in Tiger, GA today. The focus for the next week will be spreading the word about the Firewise program and working in potential Firewise communities.  There were several new members added to the team.  These members include Don Walker, Patrick Mahoney, Shannon Dean, Mark Sparrow, and Shawn Diddie


Daily Report

  May 14th, 2013 




  Team member Denise Croker conducted a live interview on WRGA radio “talk of the town” in Floyd County. Fire prevention and community arson awareness, and well as Firewise concepts were discussed .Firewise and prevention information was provided to the radio station.



Team member Beryl Budd presented a GFC services/Fire prevention program at Tallapoosa Senior Center for 22 residents.  The group was very interested and engaged in program.  Most were aware of the arson issues in Haralson.  Follow-up presentations were requested.

Polk County Unit personnel Tim Sosebee and Tim Jones presented 25-fire prevention programs at Westside Elementry School.  Approximately 625 students, 30 teachers and 31 bags of fire prevention and Firewise literature distributed. Teacher bags also had an assortment of Smokey Bear giveaways that included pencils, stickers, tattoos and bookmarks (1200 items).


Team Member Jenny Bruner and Chief Ranger Jeff Davis conducted fire prevention/arson awareness programs for the entire 6th and 8th grade classes at Haralson County Middle School.  The program hosted 700 students who learned about preventing human caused fires, and reporting arson fires.  There were 1,400 fire prevention promotional items provided to the students to help reinforce the message.


Team members traveled to Dillard, Georgia where they will begin the second half of their fire prevention campaign.  The focus in the Rabun County area will be to promote the Firewise program along with the fire prevention message. 


Daily Report

  May 13, 2013 



Mark Wiles, Beryl Budd and Denise Croker all conducted radio interviews in the Polk and Haralson area.  Denise met with radio talk show host Frank Burgess at WGAA in Cedartown to discuss the fire situation in the area, as well as to deliver the fire prevention message.  Mark and Beryl visited with WKNG in Tallapoosa to talk about the arson issues in Haralson County, as well services provided by Georgia Forestry Commission.


Mark Wiles conducts radio interview at WKNG in Haralson County


Denise contacted local media sources, such as Tallapoosa Journal, Cedartown Standard, and Rockmart Journal to schedule interviews.  Denise also worked with local radio stations to schedule interview dates and times.  The stations were WZOT in Rockmart, WRGA in Rome and WGAA in Cedartown.  Denise will be interviewing in Rome tomorrow morning with 1470 AM.  The interview will inform listeners of the arson issue in the area and will instruct them on what actions to take if they have information on arson related fires.  Denise has coined her message to the listeners as “If you see something…..say something!” which encourages residents to report arson fires.


Boy Scout Campaign Tallapoosa in Haralson County



Jenny Bruner returned to work with the team on school programs scheduled for tomorrow in Haralson County.  Beryl and Jenny met with the local Boy Scout Troop in Tallapoosa to talk to 15 Boy Scouts about the Firewise program and Arson Awareness.  The Boy Scout Campaign was held in the Scout cabin near the First United Methodist Church.  The cabin was dedicated to the late Chief Ranger Benny Vines and his family, who perished in an auto accident several years ago.



Denise with new promotional roadside signs


Denise coordinated the purchase of 35 roadside signs to be placed at road intersections in the areas where arson fires are most prevalent in Polk and Haralson Counties.  These signs display the phone number, and other information for reporting woods arson.







Daily Report

  May 12, 2013



The team coordinated an afternoon of fire prevention and Firewise outreach at the local Home Depot.  The shoppers were very interested in learning more about protecting their homes and property from wildfire.  The shoppers were supplied with flyer information on reporting Arson fires, and information on how to make their property Firewise.  Denise Crocker had roughly 250-300 visitors to the display, and distributed roughly 200 promotional items to the spectators.




Denise Crocker educates youngsters at the Firewise campaign launched at the local Home Depot


Beryl Budd created maps for the local trapline to be downloaded into the final report.  These maps were created using Arcmap technology.  Beryl also updated the contact list and helped confirm parts of the final report.  Denise completed the talking points for the radio broadcast scheduled for tomorrow at WKNG in Tallapoosa, and WGAA in Cedartown.  Talking points will be used to conduct interviews with the local newspapers as well.



  Daily Report

  May 11, 2013 



Beryl Budd and Mark Wiles continued the outreach fire prevention campaign in Haralson County at the 32nd annual Trout Fishing Rodeo, which is sponsored by the Haralson County Wildlife Association.  The event attracted citizens from northwest Georgia and northeastern Alabama.  This event had roughly 3,500 citizens in attendance, with over 1,400 promotional fire prevention and Firewise items distributed.


Beryl Budd and Mark Wiles work Fire Prevention Campaign at the Haralson Trout Fishing Rodeo.


Denise Croker spent the day contacting the media to set interviews with three TV Stations, which were WSB-TV, Fox 5 Atlanta and WGCL CBS affiliate.  These were two radio interviews set for Monday, May 13 with WKNG in Tallapoosa and WGAA in Cedartown. A list of talking points was created by Denise for the upcoming interviews. The products that are being created to address the arson problem will be distributed in the communities with a disproportionate number of arson fires.  The products being developed will be 30 corrugated plastic roadside signs with the arson hotline number.  These signs will be placed at the intersections of roads in the fire active regions. 


Daily Report

  May 9, 2013



  Team member Chris Dunn met with 23 Haralson county residents at the Haralson county Recreation Department in Buchannan. Fire prevention and community arson awareness were discussed and the residents showed great interest and concern. Fire prevention materials were handed out and questions were answered.


  Chris also attended the Tallapoosa Lions Club luncheon and presented a power point focused on fire prevention/education and the goals of the Georgia Forestry Commission for this campaign. There were 17 Lions Club members present and they enjoyed the fire prevention presentation. Also there were fire prevention materials distributed to all the members followed by an informative Q&A discussion.


  A Lions Club member, Mr. Lowell White, who writes for the Tallapoosa Journal and the Haralson County Gateway-Beacon, took notes and conducted an interview with team member Chris Dunn.


Team member Beryl Budd presented six fire prevention PowerPoint programs to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Rockmart Middle School. The presentations were conducted to a total of 132 students in Ms.Jean Evans Career Development classes.


 A contact list for local corporated cities in Polk and Haralson Counties was developed and firewise/ prevention material packets were put together for distribution to Mayors in each of these communities.

Prevention material packets were developed for distribution to educators at Polk County and Haralson County Elementary Schools. 



Beryl Budd conducts fire prevention program for Rockmart Middle School Students in Polk County


 Team member Denise Croker and Polk County Unit personnel Tim Sosebee attended Farm Day in Cedartown.  They presented fire prevention programs to 30 classes of first graders (634 students), 87 teachers and 40 high school FFA students.   Two GFC tractor-plow units were displayed and 31 bags of fire prevention, firewise literature distributed. Teacher bags also had an assortment of Smokey Bear giveaways that included pencils, stickers, tattoos and bookmarks (650 items).


Ranger Sosebee instructs students on good fires and bad fires


Denise has made several attempts scheduling an interview with WGAA 1340 AM, Frank Burgess owner.  She also talked with two local printing companies about campaign signs to be displayed throughout the two counties along main highway intersections.


Team Leader Mark Wiles scheduled programs for 2 Elementary schools in Polk and Haralson Counties for Friday, May 10, and coordinated a Firewise campaign for major incorporated communities in Polk and Haralson Counties.  Team members will contact and meet with community leaders to introduce the Firewise program and to provide guidance in making the certification a reality for the communities.  Follow-up support for the Firewise program in these communities will be provided into the future to insure success.





Daily Report

  May 8, 2013




Team members Chris Dunn and Denise Croker performed a Fire Prevention and Education presentation at the Haralson County Middle School for career day. A power point presentation was given with emphasis on fire prevention, arson fire awareness, and fire control.  The Haralson County Chief Ranger Jeff Davis and Ranger Brandon McGaha brought a tractor plow unit to the school for an outside presentation on fire control. There were 154 sixth graders that were reached through the presentations and they received promotional items on fire prevention as well. Overall the presentations were informative and offered good student interaction with questions and answer sessions.




Chief Ranger Jeff Davis, Team Member Chris Dunn, Team Member Denise Croker and Ranger Brandon McGaha at the Haralson Middle School Career Day.