Deputy Chief and Fire Marshal Stephanie Harpring accepts position at City of Thornton Fire Department



By Captain Violante

“I think the moment she stepped into the station we knew Stephanie Burton (maiden Stephanie and Nephewsname) was serious about her career. Everyone felt like they better push themselves a little to keep up with the new hire. She came from Valdosta and had experience. She came in ready to work.
But she also had an infectious playful side. She kept you on point while making you laugh. Everyone smiles, laughs, and wants a hug from her. You want to be by her side.

What many may not realize about Chief Stephanie Harpring is: her devotion to Janet Jackson is strong, her Diana Ross karaoke impression is stellar, her mad cooking abilities like grilled chicken or ham and beans, a respect and grateful attitude to her mother, her sincere love of her wife and kids, and her uncanny ability to keep the spark going.

Stephanie teachingShe started as a firefighter, went to driver, fire Marshal and Deputy Chief. Most chiefs in the state of Georgia know who she is. Chief Harpring wore two very difficult hats for the last several years. She was fire Marshal -covering plan reviews, prevention, inspections, and investigations. And she was also Deputy Chief – handling personnel matters, operations, trucks, training, and public events. Chief also caught a lot of the stuff that fell in the gaps.

Not only will she be missed by her fire family but every city employee that has ever Stephanie and Ladiesengaged with her will feel a loss to some degree. Stephanie is being hired as the Fire Marshal for the City of Thornton outside of Denver, Colorado. They are excited to have someone who can handle so many issues and saw the value as Stephanie dealt with the City of Decatur’s recent growth. Her last day will be March 20th and she will begin her new job on March 27th. Her family will move after the end of the school year.

14469645_1160060887410146_5628597395198380135_nChief Harpring looks forward to hiking, biking, and ‘attempting’ to ski or snowboard. Stephanie will do exceptionally well in her new position. She loves a challenge and the chance to grow. Stephanie will be missed by many but she is no more than a phone call away.”

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Captain Violante Selected to Present at 2017 Fire-Rescue International Conference


Fire Rescue International has always been an exciting educational opportunity for emergency service professionals from all over the world. The conference is sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs and designed to utilize experts in the industry to develop excellence in fire officers. For Decatur Fire, this year’s expo will be even more exciting. Decatur Fire’s own Captain Violante has been selected to present her submission, “Winning Psychology of Fire Officers.” In her own words, she describes how her presentation was inspired by a book her nephew read in college.

“The Inner Game of Tennis is a book I read. My nephew is a the state champ wrestler and had to read it in college for a psychology class. As an athlete and fire officer, I saw how the concepts of the book would have helped me immensely had I read it in my youth. The part of the book that applies to fire officers deals with how our two selves communicate with one another and affect our performance. In addition, if we understand how we operate, disciplining, taking command, day to day operations can improve. As a Western culture, we are practice so many catch phrases, like ‘don’t mess up again, come on you can do this.’ Instead of focusing on the emotional side of improvement, if we look at the factual side, and use our training, better outcomes are sure to occur. Does that make sense? We should instead say, ‘I (or you) need to change x ,y, and z to get the better outcome.’ It has nothing to do with who you are as a person. If you begin to focus on insecurities and personal issues, you will psych yourself out and become distracted from accomplishing the task. This is obviously a struggle for me and I work hard in retraining myself.”

This year’s conference will be held in Charlotte, NC from the 26th-29th and Captain Violante has not yet received the exact day for her presentation, but has been awarded a complimentary Core Education or Officer Development pass. When the exact day of her presentation is determined, members of her Decatur Fire family are hoping to make the trip up to support her and cheer her on. She has certainly made us proud by receiving this recognition!

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Making a Change

The career of a firefighter is one of the most physically taxing and rewarding jobs in thefile1 world. You have the rare opportunity to help people in their time of need while receiving the respect and support of your community. I have been a firefighter for six years; three years as a volunteer in Metter, GA and three years as a full-time firefighter at Riverdale Fire Services. There comes a time in some firefighters careers where we make a change/switch departments due to multiple reasons. On November 22nd of 2016 I was blessed with the opportunity to become a firefighter for the Decatur Fire Department.

file3In my six years as a firefighter I have experienced three departments with totally different visions and daily functions. One difference I noticed immediately was the structure and morale of my crew. 7:30 am, I walk into the training office for morning muster as my fellow firefighters great each other with hugs, handshakes and smiles ready to meet any challenge headed their way. Our Captains have already structured our entire shift with all training, community activities, and truck assignments for each crew member. The fact that my role and responsibilities for the next 24 hours are already in place is great. It allows us to focus on the task at hand and prepare for the planned events as well as the unknown calls to which we will respond.

The most important change to me is the vision. Chief Washington as well as the other madsen coreyleaders at Decatur Fire Department want me to thrive as not only a firefighter but as a servant to my community. They are not only receptive to new idea and perspectives but they encourage them. Having a positive and supportive crew and vision that resonates with your desires not only makes your working environment enjoyable, it propels you forward due to the support of your peers. It makes you want to excel beyond their expectations of you and make them proud.

Firefighter Kelvonte Byrd

Firefighter Byrd has been with Decatur Fire and Rescue for three months now.

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Meet Your Decatur Firefighters: Lieutenant Jeremy Storey

My name is Jeremy Storey and I was born in SW Atlanta, GA; I moved to Decatur,untitled Georgia      at the age of six, where I was raised. I attended Redan High school, then went to GA Perimeter College, where I received my associate’s degree in Fire Management. I then attended Georgia State University and received a bachelor’s degree in business. My career in the fire service began in 2005 with the City of Atlanta. I have two brothers, one sister and one daughter. My hobbies are reading, sports and physical training!

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Meet Your CAPS Members: Roger Schuppert

We urge everyone to take a moment to check out this edition of “Meet Your CAPS Members.” Anyone who has been to an community event or met CAPS knows Roger. He would help anyone with anything, anytime. We’ve left Mr. Schuppert’s words as he wrote them because they give us some great insight into the life of a fascinating and accomplished community member.

“I have led many lives. Born Feb 14, 1947 in Milwaukee, moved around, spent my high school years in a little Texas town called Floydada and after graduation we moved to 15253445_206173583171655_4587200515605739349_nWaycross, Georgia, a forgettable town close to the Florida border. Shortly after, I enlisted in the US Air Force and ended up in Vietnam where I worked as a civil engineer doing various things, including pest control; I even spent a short stint in the post office. Nam wasn’t the hellhole I pictured it to be and I even got to know some of the local people. I shot no one and no one shot me and I came back in one piece and for, some reason, received the Air Force Commendation Medal.
When I got back I needed to do something so I applied to college-I wanted UGA but they weren’t accepting applications, so it was Georgia State University for me, where I eventually received three degrees,_BA in English, 1972, Masters in Education, 1977, and Masters in Journalism, 2000. I also worked at GSU for 30 years and retired in 2003.
While at GSU I worked with some colleagues who had done theater and film work and they encouraged me to do it. I demurred for the longest time but finally took the plunge and auditioned for a show. I didn’t get the part but I became the props person-the person who has to find pieces of furniture or other things to use in the show; I also became the stage manager for the show. I discovered that I was naturally good at it and at the end of the show I was given an award for technical contribution. You can imagine my surprise when someone who has never done this before gets an award. From that moment on I knew this was something I wanted to do and I did it for 25 years, receiving two more technical awards. I did a little bit of almost everything, from props, to light board op, sound board op, stage manager,crew chief backstage and I even got to be onstage a few times. What I loved most and what I did most, however, was build the sets and take them down again after the show. Some of my finest memories and lasting friendships came from that experience. So that’s a third life.
During my time at GSU I also appeared as an extra in a few films here in Atlanta. It was a lot of waiting around but I got to meet some stars-Gary Busey, John Cassavettes, Lawrence Fishburne and others. Life number 4.
Also while at GSU, I wrote for the student newspaper and had many articles published, mostly about film and theater and I did that for 10 years. I’ve also had some biographical research papers published, so as you can see, I’ve had a busy life.
When I retired, I needed something else to make my life fulfilling, as if it hasn’t been already, so I heard about the CAPS, program, joined the police CAPS eight years ago and fire CAPS 4 years ago; its one of the greatest decisions of my life; it gives my life a purpose besides taking up space and using up food and water. I love doing this work and I love this town.
So there’s a little about me. I am by nature shy and withdrawn but joining this program has definitely made me more sociable.”

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Introducing Our Newest Firefighter, Sebastien Pean

file (4)25 year old FF. Sebastien Pean was born and raised in Haiti before moving to Miami, Florida where he attended Mater Lakes Academy High School. He later played college basketball in multiple states, but settled in Kansas City, Missouri where he graduated from Blue River Fire Academy in August of 2016.

Pean’s family consists of his mother, Alessandra Lemoire, and three sisters: Samantha, Corrine and Chloe. He also speaks French Creole and has moved to Georgia this August intending to start his career as a firefighter.

According to Pean “As a kid my mother always told me that if I knew how to start a fire, I better know how to put it out, and that stuck with me. My passion for the fire service is always in putting others first. I’ve always had that instinct for helping others, and the safety of others has always been a major thing for me. I couldn’t think of a better career to combine fire and safety into one.”

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Introducing the Third of Our Three New Firefighters- Dustin Kurucar

Firefighter Kurucar attended Fayette County High School, then went on to study at file2Southern Crescent Technical College for Fire and EMS. During this time he worked as a landscaper, and a waiter/cook/ driver for a few years as well. This is Kurucar’s first firefighter job, and in his words, “Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a firefighter. This was definitely my number one goal and dream.”

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Introducing the Second of Our Three New Firefighters- Kelvonte Byrd

Firefighter Byrd was born and raised in Miami Florida. He graduated from Miami Lakesfile Technical School in 2009 and moved to Georgia to pursue a career in firefighting. He worked as a volunteer firefighter in Metter Georgia for three years, and earned his EMT-I and Firefighter I certification at Ogeechee Technical College. He found a new opportunity to work as a firefighter in Riverdale, GA working with an “amazing crew, serving the community to the best of our abilities.”

In his own words, “I have always had a passion for helping others while searching for new ways to change the world. That’s what I plan to do at Decatur Fire.”

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Introducing the First of Our Three New Firefighters- Bryan Diamond

Firefighter Diamond was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and raised in Miami, Florida. He file1attended Robert Morgan High School to study his second passion, music. He went on to attend Miami-Dade College for Paramedics/Fire. Immediately after obtaining his EMT certification, he was given the opportunity to work at Mercy Hospital in Miami, as an ER Technician, where his experience and love for the field grew.

As a child, career day at school was always exciting for Diamond because he knew he would get to meet local firefighters ride on the engine. In his own words, “This is the type of job I can see myself waking up to every day and performing. I enjoy helping people and I always love a challenge. What firefighters do has always amazed me. These are true heroes that do it unconditionally, for the love of humanity, and not for recognition. That’s who I’ve always wanted to be. I understand the dangers of this job, but also how gratifying the end result is if you are doing what you love at the end of the day.”

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Fire Department Bio-Captain Ninetta Violante


The following words were written by Captain Violante, who insisted they would require heavy editing. We didn’t want to cut a thing from it.

“I grew up in Tallahassee Florida with a German mother and Italian father on 13 acres, and my infant seat sat under the pizza oven of my parents’ restaurant. Both parents are very hard workers and I am the same height as my father at 5’2, so I never thought I could not do anything because I was female or semi-short. I played sports from the time I could walk- soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball and softball. I was a straight A student and played all five Varsity sports in high school (and was Homecoming Queen –shhhhhh).

I always wanted to help people because that is the personality of my family. I went to Emory and played Soccer, Basketball, Cross-Country and Track. I trained for Officer Candidate School with the Marines and went to OCS between my Junior and Senior year of college. I declined my commissioning to become 2nd Lieutenant and went to California after graduation to work with people with HIV/AIDS. I found out I could not do much unless I volunteered or received my Masters degree. I got my personal training license. I worked in the TransAmerica building with an investment banking company, Montgomery Securities, of which I knew nothing. I saved up enough money to pay a company to let me go to Kenya and volunteer to do HIV/AIDS work.

I traveled more and returned to Emory to get my Masters in Public Health, with an emphasis in Policy because I thought it would be the greatest way to implement change. I went to Cuba to analyze their health care system. I graduated and wanted to work for CARE or WHO or the Carter Center. I could not get a job. I was temping with Randstaad and working for Berth Hunt. I had conversations with people and they suggested I put in for a firefighter position. I never knew any firefighters. I knew nothing of the job. I began thinking of how I could help people and my background in fitness and the medical field may be fitting. I became so excited and nervous about the job.I really wanted it. I interviewed with police, fire, and dispatch but chose fire.

Everybody has challenges at work and in life. Sometimes being short or female has made it hard. Sometimes I see women being compared to each other and increasing the competition between females or being pitted against each other. Even in boot camp, my platoon never came together because we each felt we had so much to prove and no short cuts would be acceptable. I still suffer from my own demons of feeling inadequate at times, of balancing being a mom and a firefighter, and I would not have ever been successful without the support I have received from people and family. It is amazing to me that the City of Decatur Fire Department has an African American Female Fire Chief and Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal and myself in top positions, and we all support one another. I also feel that we care and support the command staff, too. I care about the department and all of its people.

I still have a hard time separating work from my personal life because my job and the department are personal to me. I feel responsible for their behavior, their satisfaction, them. In the future, I want to continue to learn and grow as I feel I am still far from where I want to be as a person, as an employee, and as an officer. It is difficult to care for a son with Down syndrome, have a relationship, work, and go to additional training needed to maintain certifications or to enhance my own performance.

But I will give it all I have.”

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