October 14, 2021

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

Franklin County Neighbors Share in the Name of Wildfire Protection

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.

  • For more information, visit http://forestry.alabama.gov
  • For more state-wide press releases, click here