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Southwest Georgia foresters lead state for area fire protection

Mar. 19—ATLANTA — Landowners in a 15-county area of southwest Georgia can take pride in receiving wildfire protection and much more from the Georgia Forestry Commission's (GFC) "best of the best." Employees in Camilla-based Area 9 have been recognized as GFC's Statewide Area of the Year for FY 23.

"You've heard the saying, 'There is no I in teamwork,'" said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore, "and these men and women personify that motto. They're expert wildland firefighters and prevention experts and have additional capabilities from machinery repair to building construction. They're a shining example of our agency's commitment to service."

This isn't the first time Area 9 employees have been singled out for their performance. The group won this coveted award in 2022 as well, and members pride themselves on rapid response time and versatility for landowners and the agency they serve.

Many of the achievements that earned recognition are wildfire-related, including installing more than a thousand pre-suppression firebreaks, keeping response times to an average of three-and-a-half minutes, and average fire size to under four acres. Employees recorded close to 4,000 prescribed-burn hours and served on eight out-of-state deployments in support of wildfire suppression.

The Area 9 team serves the following counties: Baker, Mitchell, Berrien, Colquitt, Brooks, Cook, Decatur, Seminole, Echols, Lanier, Lowndes, Grady, Thomas, Miller, and Early. The group is credited with excellent community outreach, hosting numerous Forestry Field Days and reaching more than 60,000 people at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie. Skilled in-house construction teams completed projects including unit roofing, remodeling, and driveways. They also established special bearing-repair shops that support efficient heavy equipment maintenance.

"This part of southwest Georgia has had its fair share of fire and storms," said Lowrimore. "We are fortunate to have these professionals at the ready to help, 24/7."

The Georgia Forestry Commission's Statewide Area of the Year for FY23, Area 9, was officially recognized by the state legislature on March 7.

For more information about the many services of the GFC, visit GaTrees.org.