June 9, 2008

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

AFC Announces Reorganization

In a continuing effort to increase operating efficiencies, Alabama State Forester Linda Casey has announced the recent reorganization of the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC). State coverage by the agency has been divided into six regions, where there were formerly only four. Each region is further divided into four work units, made up of two to four counties.

As a result of the restructuring, the following regional staffing changes were made, effective June 1:

  • Dan Lassetter, currently County Manager in Lamar County, was promoted to North Regional Forester and will have headquarters in Morgan County. Dan has been with the AFC 21 years.
  • Hank McKinley, currently County Manager in Tuscaloosa County, has been promoted to Northeast Regional Forester and will have headquarters in Jefferson County. Hank has been with the AFC for 12 years, after working in the timber management and sawmill business for several years.
  • Otis French, currently Southwest Assistant Regional Forester, has been promoted to Southeast Regional Forester and will have headquarters in Escambia County. Otis has been with the AFC for 23 years.
  • John Pirtle, currently Management Division Director, has transferred to become the Northwest Regional Forester and will have headquarters in Tuscaloosa County.
  • Bruce Springer, currently Southeast Regional Forester, has transferred to the East Central Region and will have headquarters in Montgomery County.
  • Gary Cole will remain as the Regional Forester for the Southwest Region, with headquarters in Escambia County.

Also effective June 1, staffing changes occurring at the Alabama Forestry Commission headquarters include:

  • Dan Jackson, currently County Manager in Walker County, has been promoted to Protection (formerly “Fire”) Division Director located at the State Office in Montgomery. Dan has been with the AFC for 20 years.
  • Walter Cartwright, currently Assistant Management Director, has been promoted to Management Director and will continue to operate out of the State Office in Montgomery.
  • Stephen May, currently Protection Division Director, has transferred to Rural Community Fire Protection Division Director. The creation of this new position will strengthen the partnership between the AFC and the rural volunteer fire departments across Alabama.

“The caliber of candidates for these positions made me extremely proud to be associated with such a group of talented and professional people,” said Casey. “It is my belief that the new Regional Foresters and Division Directors will provide their team members with the kind of leadership that will position this agency to achieve the most effective service to the people of Alabama.”

In a related matter, and consistent with all state agencies, it is absolutely essential for the Alabama Forestry Commission to be as cost effective as possible while remaining steadfast in accomplishing its mission in the safest possible manner. Based on the findings of a detailed cost-benefit analysis, the AFC will relocate all eight of its radio communication centers to a central dispatch center located in Montgomery County.

Restructuring of the agency’s communications operations will provide an opportunity to offer a higher level of protection and safety not only for AFC employees, but also for landowners. The outcomes expected by moving to one centralized dispatch center include:

  • Taking maximum advantage of the safety and operating efficiencies offered by utilizing state-of-the-art communication technology, which is not economically feasible with the current eight dispatch center locations.
  • Capability to have real-time locations of all wildfires and burn permits across the entire state, plus the ability to generate such information to remote locations and other emergency agencies via wireless connection.
  • Ability to provide training and supervision at one location.
  • Substantial decrease in annual maintenance costs. 
  • Increased capacity to leverage dispatchers’ operating schedules which will allow more firefighters to be in the field. Currently, AFC rangers and foresters supply relief for radio dispatchers. This will also ensure that dispatch coverage meets demand while allowing personnel to take their annual leave.

According to Casey, all currently employed dispatch operators will be offered transfers to Montgomery. The AFC will work closely with employees who choose not to transfer to assist them with their efforts to find other employment opportunities.

Casey also emphasized that there will be a gradual implementation to the centralized communications location. “Current plans are to complete the move by the first quarter of 2009; however, no changes in the current dispatch system will occur without thorough testing and being absolutely satisfied that the new system provides for effective and safe communication with firefighters.”

The mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally applied stewardship principals and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water, and a healthy economy. To learn more about the AFC, visit www.forestry.alabama.gov.

  • For more information, visit http://forestry.alabama.gov
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