Fearrington smoky mulch fire

An ALERTChatham / CodeRed notification for smoke in the southeast corner of Fearrington Village was just sent (September 15, 2019) from the Chatham County EOC. Agencies are coordinating the fire management, but it may continue to burn. Here are facts around this:

1.       The mulch fire is contained (NOT spreading) but will likely not be extinguished for some time.

2.       This type of fire is not easily or quickly extinguished.  There is a lot of “fuel” for a fire in a mulch pile.

3.       The smell of smoke tends to worsen at night as the atmosphere cools and the smoke sinks.  It doesn’t mean it’s getting worse, it is likely the same amount of smoke just closer to the ground.

4.       Elevated levels of smoke can impair breathing and aggravate symptoms in people with respiratory problems and irritate the lungs in healthy individuals.  This is a LOW-LEVEL smoke incident, but still may cause irritation for residents.  If affected, they should limit prolonged outdoor activities while these conditions remain.

5.       If someone is having symptoms suggesting lung or heart problems, they should consult their health care provider as soon as possible.

6.       Residents should consider running your central air conditioning system in your home … and if equipped, set it to re-circulate or close outdoor air intakes to avoid drawing in smoky outdoor air.

7.       Fitch Creations (Fearrington HOA) is posting updates to their website at fearringtonfha.org .

Hurricane Checklist

Thanks to everyone who attended the Hurricane and Power Outage CERT meeting on August 28. With Hurricane Dorian forming and strengthening, now is the time to start thinking about preparations to ride out this storm and any more that might come our way this year.

Here is the Checklist for pre-, during, and post-hurricane actions and when power is out.

Remember, if we are hit by a hurricane, take care of yourselves, your family and your neighbors. CERT members don’t self-deploy – wait for a notification that CERT volunteer support has been officially requested.

Firefighter Exercise

A BIG THANKS to the twelve CERT and AuxComm members who participated in the Chatham County Firefighter Exercise on August 17th.

From the Chatham County Fire Chief:

“I wanted to pass on a huge Thanks to each of you and your personnel. Today will go down as a milestone in Chatham County Emergency Services. We have never completed a county wide water shuttle for Office of State Fire Marshal. I know all of you were hot and tired when finished. We could not have pulled today off without your participation. The were 115 personnel on the training roster and 150 personnel fed, so a few missed the roster. No injuries, no damaged equipment, and all of your tremendous willingness to help. This is saying alot, we were filling appratus at 1250 gallons a minute, moved over 418000 gallons of water in 3 1/2 hours, with 43 tankers. All of you were key players.
Please pass on to your staff and CERT for the help and making today a success.

Assembling at 7:30 AM
Transferring water between tankers
Water Cannons

CERT July 2019

What does a county citizen do if they suspect a law enforcement officer needs assistance?

That was the July 2019 topic presented by the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

In a nutshell:
– Call 9-1-1 first! The officer may not have been able to notify his unit, and calling 911 will never hurt the situation.
– Do not take action unless the officer knows you are there, that you are a ‘good guy’, and the officer requests help.
– Don’t startle the officer – make sure they are aware of your presence.
– If you are a concealed handgun permit holder, DON’T draw your firearm unless asked to do so by the officer.
– Sometimes just being an extra set of eyes and ears is all that is needed.

If you come across an officer in their vehicle and they are unresponsive (perhaps due to a medical emergency) grab the vehicle’s radio microphone and call for help!

CERT April 2019

Thanks to everyone who attended our April 24 CERT meeting. We had a great presentation on Wildfire in North Carolina, presented by Justin Query from the North Carolina Forestry Service. You can see his presentation here. Justin also provided a document on how to evaluate your own home’s risk for wildfire damage, and a handout on preparing your home for wildfires.

Many of our CERT members have expressed an interest in Search and Rescue. We are working with the Chatham County Emergency Management office and the Sheriff’s office to build a training program that inserts CERT members into good roles during a search. Some of you may be interested in admin support, others in logistical support, and still others (once trained) would work directly on search teams. Hold the date for an all-day training session on Search and Rescue planned for October 5, 2019 at Jordan Lake.

And BIG NEWS – Chatham CERT has received our 501(c)3 non-profit letter from the IRS! We can now accept donations and can apply for grants. More to follow. (Thanks, Maura!)

CERT March 2019

Thanks to everyone who attended our March 2019 CERT meeting. This month we reviewed the past year (our start-up year!) and discussed meeting topics for the future. From those who attended, here are the top most wished for classes. We will work on getting these scheduled throughout the next year.

  • Search and Rescue
  • CPR & AED training
  • Traffic and Crowd Management
  • Dealing with long-term power outages
  • First Aid certification
  • Land Nav & Compass Reading
  • Food safety, storage, disaster food preparation

We also reviewed gear – what one might carry in their trunk or vehicle as a ‘get-home’ bag for emergencies. You can view that presentation here.

Our April meeting features the North Carolina Forestry Service in a presentation on Wildfire Prevention and Safety around our homes. That will be particularly timely given all the problems we have seen on the west coast with out-of-control fires. We don’t want that here in Chatham County. See you on April 24th at our monthly meeting.

CERT February 2019

A big thank-you to everyone who attend our February 2019 CERT meeting! Our guest speaker was Cheryl Leonard, discussing CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management). Here is a copy of the class handout.

We also reviewed CERT application procedures, the CERT vest ordering website, upcoming training and meetings, personal awareness color codes, and two great learning opportunities: Tree Cleanup and Chainsaw Safety for Disaster Relief, and the RARSFest convention for amateur radio operators. Click here for the presentation containing all this information and more.

Future CERT emergency notifications will come through the Chatham County ALERT CHATHAM notification system to all interested CERT participants. After the initial alert, additional information will be available on our website for reporting instructions, signup rosters, and other items.

We also will start using Zello, a walkie-talkie application for cell phones. Zello allows group conversations in austere environments, because it can communicate with weak cell phone signals or over wireless internet. Find out more about Zello and how to connect to the Chatham CERT Zello group with this set of instructions.

Reindeer Run 2018

Chatham CERT supported the 2018 Reindeer Run in December 2018 with radio communications and other support to the event.

We received a very nice certificate of appreciation from the event organizers. The 2019 Reindeer Run is scheduled for December 7, 2019 and we are looking forward to supporting the event again.

Reindeer Run 2018

Newsletter January 2019


Chatham County CERT will meet on January 23, 2019 at at 6:30 for our monthly meeting. As always, everyone is invited to attend.

This month our meeting is, by popular request, a presentation on what to do if one is near an active shooter event. The Chatham County Sheriff’s office is presenting Run-Hide-Fight, which is the current training response scenario. Continue reading Newsletter January 2019