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.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Safety Tips From the American Red Cross


Cooking is such a part of the holidays that we rarely see how dangerous it can actually be. Many of the alarms, structure fires and injuries that we see are the result of accidents in the kitchen. Take a moment to read this brief article from the American Red Cross to help you avoid additional holiday stress.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Use of Fireworks Banned During Drought


Lieutenant Jennifer Ross of the Decatur Police Department shared the following with us:

“On Monday, November 14, 2016, Governor Nathan Deal issued an executive order banning the use of fireworks in 110 Georgia counties to include DeKalb County due to the current drought conditions. Please discontinue the use of fireworks until the ban is lifted. “

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet your CAPS Members, part 1

We’ve been intending to introduce our outstanding and dedicated Citizens Assisting Public Safety members for quite some time…so without further delay, Gwyneth Butera!

image“I was in the first Fire CAPS class … I heard about the program when I was in Decatur 101 after moving to COD – though I have lived in the county for almost 20 years now (Brookhaven then Pine Lake then Decatur). My “ride-along” day was on the day the department moved into the newly redone station – our first mission was to go to public works to get toilet paper and soap 🙂 I followed with Police CAPS soon after. I also volunteer at the Red Cross. I often wonder how familiar our Fire Department is with the Red Cross and the fire programs (from prevention to recovery $$), and I’d be happy to be a contact.

More than you want to know but I’ll share:

1) I have a scanner and listen to Decatur Police and Fire all day long. I hear the good and the bad. I won’t ever say anything publicly, but I have lots of opinions on the communication gaps.
2) Much to my surprise, my beloved Capt Burton (now Chief Harping) married my HS senior daughter’s guidance counselor (whom we also love). So yes, there’s a bit of a small town feel here, and I love it.
3) I work from home (at the Artisan – 201 W. Ponce even though we are on Commerce — and I know how confusing that is). My smoke detector is unplugged (and yes, I’ve admitted that to Chief Harping) because it goes off when I am boiling water for pasta).
4) I have two teen girls at the high school, a husband (who bikes to Georgia Tech where he is a professor and who volunteers with the Decatur Makers), and various pets.

So, yes, FAR more than you need to know, but maybe it helps you get to know us as enthusiastic individuals….

I’d love to have “ride-a-long” weeks. Open houses for public and CAPS. Events to help DFD, CAPS, and the public to connect.”

We’ll work on that smoke detector issue;)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Redraw the Future

A special firefighter sent me this article about a young girl who wanted to be a firefighter for Halloween.firefighter
The article sparked some conversation over different experiences adult female firefighters have had. It is 2016, and sometimes, even though I was in uniform, I got asked, “Oh and what do you do for the fire department?” I responded that I, too, am a firefighter like the men surrounding me. It has to be clearly stated my job was not to simply get coffee for people or do paperwork. And often, people still stumble for words when they see me. They tell their children and point, “Look there is a fireman, well a firewoman. Oh, I am sorry, what do we call you?” And I respond, “You can call me a firefighter.” Honestly, I did not even realize being a firefighter was an option for females when I was a child. Even when I was looking for jobs, I did not consider it. It was not that I did not think there were females in the occupation or that I could not do the job. I was simply never exposed to it nor saw/heard of any female firefighters. Similarly, I never considered the military until I met someone who was enlisting and he said I should join. I knew nothing about the Marines but the more I thought about it, the more I saw going through Officer Candidate School with the Marines as a good experience. There have been a lot of changes in the world and a lot of change in stereotypes; however, we still have a lot of changes to make. There is a wonderful video on Youtube and it is called Inspiring the Future – Redraw the Balance. This powerful film from MullenLowe London provocatively captures how, early on in their education, children already define career opportunities as male and female. When asked to draw a firefighter, surgeon and a fighter pilot, 61 pictures were drawn of men and only 5 were female. It’s time to #redrawthebalance. Find out how you can support the cause by visiting:

Captain Ninetta Violante

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2016 Decatur Fire Food Drive Invitation

this-is-what-food-banks-actually-need-m3tu1Q-clipartThis year Decatur Fire Department is hosting another Holiday Food Drive. We have always received enormous amount of community involvement and we would like to have Decatur’s young citizens participate as well. Decatur Fire is extending a friendly competition among the young citizens by conducting a Food Drive campaign within our elementary schools. The class which collects the most non- perishable food items in pounds in each school will receive an Arts & Crafts Party courtesy of The Decatur Fire Department. The goal is to have each Elementary School be a part of this competition for a worthy cause.

The Food Drive will be held for one week: November 8-November 14. Decatur Fire Department will collect and weigh-in food items November 17th. The principal will be notified of class collection amounts by lunch time. The Arts & Crafts Party with the firefighters will be held before the Thanksgiving Holiday Break on November 19th or 20th, 2015 pending the class preference.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 2016 Smoke Alarm Blitz Completed!


Smoke Alarm Blitz October 2016 is done and we want to thank all of our FORTY SIX amazing volunteers! We had help from Georgia State University students, Decatur High JROTC and National Honors Society, Emory University SORT team, Church of Latter Day Saints, American Red Cross and Citizens Assisting Public Safety.
Because we had all of this help, we were able to visit 293 homes, install 62 new alarms, inspect 86 current alarms, and serve 117 community members in Decatur.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Have a SAFE and Happy Halloween!


14666305_1179825098767058_5357658300847401089_nWe all know how much the kids (and parents) look forward to Halloween. Everyone is excited to get out there and see the costumes and the decorations and the kids are thinking of nothing but how much candy they’ll get at the next doorway.

As much as we would also like to focus on all the fun of the holiday, it’s much more important for us to prevent than to respond to emergencies. With this in mind, we also  have to remind everyone that this night has tremendous potential for a tragedy if we aren’t practicing safe trick-or-treating. The following is a list of Halloween do’s and don’ts from the Safe Kids webpage. Remember that this page has safety information for numerous situations, not just Halloween!

Halloween Safety Tips:
Walk Safely
• Children under 12 should trick-or-treat and cross streets with an adult. Cross the street
at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
• Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
• Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
• Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
• Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
• Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
Trick or Treat With an Adult
• Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
Keep Costumes Both Creative and Safe
• When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
• Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
• Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision.
• Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
Double Check Candy and Costumes
• Check treats for signs of tampering before children are allowed to eat them.
• Remind children to eat only treats in original, unopened wrappers.
• Candy should be thrown away if the wrapper is faded or torn, or if the candy is unwrapped.
• While glow sticks are good for visibility, remember that the liquid in glow sticks is also hazardous, so parents should
remind children not to chew on or break them.
• Look for non-toxic designations when choosing Halloween makeup.
Drive Extra Safely on Halloween
• Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
• Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
• Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
• Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
• Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment