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When
AFC Franklin County Forestry Specialist Scott Daniel took a trip to visit his
local grocery store, he returned with more than just his usual fruits and
vegetables. While walking through the aisles he ran into his friend, Steve Archer,
who works next door to the Franklin County Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC)
office. Both Scott and Steve work in the forestry sector in northwest Alabama,
and upon their discussion, Steve informed Scott that he had a gift for his
neighbors at the AFC.

Steve
is a district manager for American Forest Management (AFM), an organization
that is currently contracted to manage approximately 290,000 acres of forest
land in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee that is owned by The Rohatyn Group
(TRG). TRG acquired the property from International Paper (formerly Champion International)
in 2006 with a large portion of it being in Franklin County. Included in their
purchase were all the remaining assets (tools, equipment, etc.) that were left
on the property by the former owners.


When
AFM took inventory of these leftover assets for TRG, they encountered a hidden
gem located in a storage facility. Still in its original shipping crate was a
pristine 1999 model “Firecracker” water pump that was intended to be used for suppressing
any flame that ignited from natural causes or while performing forest management
work. Archer wasted no time deciding who would be the perfect new owners for
this piece of machinery; the AFC, the state agency tasked with protecting
Alabama’s 23 million acres of forests.He then brought the potential
donation to the attention of TRG managers in Boston, Massachusetts who concurred
that donation to the AFC would be a fitting use of the asset.


Scott
Daniel and AFC Franklin County Forester Alex Horn have been without a reliable
water pumper unit for several years. Despite attempts to get their only existing
unit running, it would not cooperate, making it an unreliable tool for wildfire
suppression. In the past, the only first responders able to assist using water
delivery in Franklin County were local fire departments and volunteer fire
departments (VFDs). Scott and Alex had no form of water delivery system when
they would be dispatched to wildfires . . .  until today.


The
Franklin County duo quickly obliged when Steve offered them this ‘new’ water
pump as a donation. “We rely on the Alabama Forestry Commission for wildfire
protection,” said Archer. “We never have to request their assistance; they just
do it.” Steve knows that this piece of equipment will help him protect the land
TRG owns as well as make a difference to others in need of wildfire protection.


Alex recalled
when he removed the water pump from its shipping crate, he was shocked at how
good of a condition it was in, especially after sitting for more than two
decades. “There have been many times that I have been driving down the road and
stumble upon a brush fire and have no efficient way to extinguish it without
having to return to our office to bring our bulldozer,” said Horn. “Now with this
Firecracker, we can be better prepared for those quick responses.” The Franklin
County AFC noted that the new addition will help them assist local fire departments
and VFDs, which are vitally important partners of the Commission.


This
pump will also be used for educational purposes. The AFC often conducts Forest
in the Classroom
and Forestry Awareness Week Now (FAWN) programs
where elementary students are taught about their local forests, wildfire safety,
and the wildland firefighters that respond to them. Some of the students’
favorite experiences are trying on wildfire personal protective equipment
(PPE), holding firefighter tools, and getting to spray water from one of the
truck-mounted pumps.


This working
relationship between the Franklin County Alabama Forestry Commission, American
Forest Management, and The Rohatyn Group is a shining example of how we may all
stand as a unified front with wildfire mitigation. It takes every one of us to
ensure that Alabama’s 23 million acres of forests remain protected and
beautiful. Relationships such as this one in Franklin County is what makes our
state a wonderful, safe place to explore, and an even better place to live.


     The mission of the Alabama Forestry
Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using
professionally applied stewardship principles and education, ensuring that the
state’s forests contribute


to abundant timber and wildlife,
clean air and water, and a healthy economy.
For more information about the
fire situation in your area or any other forestry related issues, contact your
local Alabama Forestry Commission office or visit the AFC website at www.forestry.alabama.gov


Photo cutline: Pictured (left to right) are AFC Northwest Regional Forester Terry
Ezzell, AFM District Manager Steve Archer, AFC Franklin County Forester Alex
Horn, and AFC Franklin County Forestry Specialist Scott Daniel in front of
their ‘new’ water pump for wildfire mitigation.

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