Georgia's State Prison Fire Stations provide valuable services by responding to fires and accidents in their respective areas. Tristan Willis, Southeast Region Fire Marshal, shared information with Glennville Rotarians at their June 22, 2022, meeting on their responses and services.
Tristan, at the age of 20 years old, was the first fire chief at the newly placed Smith State Prison Fire Station in December of 2015. He is now over the Southeast region for Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) Fire Services. Kody Terrell of Glennville is over the Southwest region for GDC Fire Services.
He introduced Logan Willis, who has been Fire Chief since September of 2021 at Smith Fire Station, but has been employed by the State since December of 2015, with ten years of fire response service.
"Since January 1 of this year until now, the Smith State Prison Fire Station has responded to 113 calls, and these include structure and brush fires and vehicle accidents," said Logan, adding that the Smith Fire Station is one of 19 prison fire stations in the State of Georgia and that Georgia is the only state in the nation that has prison fire stations.
"We spent one day in Gainesville, Georgia, when they had a snowstorm and we were needed to clear roads. We also spent two days in Pembroke recently when the tornado did significant damage there," said Logan.
Devon Lockett, Fire Chief at Rogers State Prison Fire Station, has been a firefighter since 2016. He commented that they have three fire trucks, which include a 1998 1000-gallon truck, a 1985 750-gallon truck, and a 1976 500-gallon fire truck.
"Since January 1 of this year, we have responded to 41 calls, including landing five helicopters. We also deployed to Kite, Georgia, when a tornado struck there, and we helped to clear several roads," said Devon.
The state prison fire departments operate with a staff of six to eight, with those inmates who make application as a prison fire station firefighter carefully screened before being allowed to serve on the prison fire team. These skills learned as a firefighter also prove valuable once these inmates are released from prison. Approximately 85 former inmates are now working on city or county fire departments.