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HFD named regional test site
Firefighters can earn certifications here
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The Hinesville Fire Department is named a regional test site by the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council on Wednesday. From left are HFD Capt. Andra Hart, Chief Lamar Cook, GFSTC public safety manager Chris Cobb, HFD Capt. Chris Kristian Johanson and Deputy Chief Larry Urban. - photo by Denise Etheridge

The Hinesville Fire Department officially was recognized Wednesday as a regional test site for Georgia Certifications and National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) Certifications. This means firefighters from across the state can train and test here for various levels of fire-fighting certifications. The department has a classroom set aside for training and testing on the top floor of HFD Station 2 on Airport Road.

HFD Capt. Kristian M. Johanson said the training site designation will allow Hinesville firefighters to receive state and national certifications locally, which also will save taxpayer dollars.

“Typically, the department would send its members to Forsyth to receive these credentials,” Johanson said. The city of Forsyth is in Monroe County, near Macon.

“It is also a way to provide the same (training) to area departments that cannot afford to send personnel to Forsyth for the testing,” he continued. “This promotes a better level of service to the city of Hinesville and its surrounding communities.”
“Finding strategic locations for test sites is key,” said Chris Cobb, a public safety manager with the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council.

Cobb said GFSTC gave 11,593 fire fighters written tests last year and tested 9,995 firefighters in fire-fighting skills in 2010.

“We couldn’t do this without our regional test sites,” he said. “(This designation) helps this fire department, surrounding departments and the state as a whole.”

Counting the HFD’s new test site designation, Georgia now has 14 such test sites, Cobb said.

He added the need for a regional test site in Coastal Georgia was high. The HFD will serve neighboring fire departments in a 19-county South Georgia region. The other two test sites closest to Liberty County are in Screven and Lauren counties, Cobb said.

“There are 644 fire departments in Georgia and more than 25,000 firefighters in the state,” he said.

The HFD actively applied for the certification site designation with GFSTC, according to Johanson. The department then was evaluated on its involvement in current testing practices by traveling to surrounding communities to assist in GFSTC-delivered tests, Johanson explained.

The HFD captain and public information officer credited the department’s involvement and Chief Lamar Cook’s dedication to providing “the highest level of service possible” for the department’s test site designation.

“Kris is really the one who has been going after this (designation),” HFD Chief Lamar Cook said.

Cook added the department’s designation as a regional test site also will “be a positive for volunteer fire departments.”
“The economy is really hurting them right now,” he said.

Johanson, a certified evaluator and proctor monitor, said the department delivers an average of 500 certification tests a year.

The HFD has 22 national professional, board-certified evaluators, he said.

Georgia firefighters who earn National Professional Board Certification can be deployed to assist other states, such as when Florida experiences hurricanes, Johanson said.

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