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Long team looks at wildfire management
Group recommends burn permit changes
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Fires have ravaged Long County in the past few months, but the Ludowici/Long County Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee recently met to discuss goals that the community could set to help combat fires in the future.
Regarding the fire that burned 4,035 acres in March, the committee reported that the evacuation measures included relocating residents from 60 homes, moving all patients at Coastal Manor Nursing Home and moving all prisoners and staff from Long State Prison. 
The group said the county needs to address the following: improve communication between agencies during a disaster, obtain a mobile command vehicle capable of generating maps in the field, increase the number of tractors available for establishing firebreaks and increase homeowners’ public education on how to reduce fuels for fires.
The committee also said it believes the city of Ludowici needs to revise its burn-permit ordinance to state that the Georgia Forestry Commission would be the agency authorizing permits in the city. 
The committee also reported that better coordination needs to be established with the Georgia Department of Transportation regarding road closures and evacuations during a time of crisis. 
Also on the subject of evacuation, the committee reported that it only took Coastal Manor Nursing Home two hours and 15 minutes to evacuate all of their residents. The committee said a key to the nursing home’s effectiveness was having in place a written evacuation plan and practicing with quarterly drills. 
Another positive note mentioned at the meeting was that a previous controlled burn had helped contain some of the fire spread by reducing the fire load in that area.
After discussing these matters, Georgia Forestry Commission Long County Acting Chief Ranger Paul Robertson said he would go before the Ludowici City Council to request that it make the change to its ordinance at the next
Other members of the hazard-mitigation planning committee include Ludowici/Long County Fire Chief Darrell Ballance, Coastal Manor Nursing Home Director of Operations Elise Stafford, Long County Environmental Health Officer Fredrick Walton and Hazard Mitigation Planner Kathy Flournoy.

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