|Devon Dartnell- Director of Field Operations|
It took 14 moves, five continents and 17 years for Devon Dartnell to get back to his home state of Georgia.
"It's good to be back in Georgia," said Dartnell, director of field operations for the Georgia Forestry Commission. The oil business is what led Dartnell to his globe-hopping pursuits. With a degree in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech, Dartnell held various management and engineering positions with Schlumberger Oilfield Services. He established field offices in Canada and Venezuela, along with running projects in Africa, Alaska and offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
"There are no oil wells in Georgia," said Dartnell, "but my wife and I wanted to give our kids a home town and the chance to know their grandparents."
Ten years ago, Dartnell returned his family to home turf and accepted a job as ranger 1 with the GFC in Newton/Rockdale Counties. Since that time he has been chief ranger in Morgan/Walton/South Gwinnett, staff forester and biomass program manager in the Marketing & Utilization Department, and Rapid Process Improvement champion. In October of 2012, Dartnell was promoted to lead GFC's field operations.
"All of our GFC field personnel support forest protection and forest management functions," he said. "Protection works on wildland fire suppression and fire prevention; the Management Department deals with water quality, forest health, forest inventory and the management of state timber. It's our job in Field Operations to keep good synergy with all the departments, by working to support their goals."
As 2013 unfolds, Dartnell said he wants to improve employee training and development across the GFC.
"That maximizes employee morale and self esteem," he said. "We want our team to have the tools and knowledge they need, for efficiency, for safety and for personal growth."
An example of the tools that will help protect employees as they serve customers is the "Automatic Vehicle Locator" (AVL) system, which will be installed on GFC firefighting tractors. Satellite positioning systems track the vehicles, so they can be dispatched to fires with greater efficiency and can be located quickly if an operator gets into a dangerous situation. Rugged laptops mounted in the tractor will allow operators to see their exact location and aerial imagery to help fight fires more safely and efficiently. Strike team leaders and chief rangers will use real-time positioning information and aerial imagery to see the exact position of each tractor on a fire, enabling them to direct suppression resources the safest and best way possible.
Another improvement Dartnell is pleased to see being phased in across the GFC fleet is environmental cabs on tractors, which provide air filtration systems, greater climate control and safety from yellow jackets for operators. "We began acquiring these five years ago, and now about 25-percent of our fire suppression tractors have environmental cabs," he said.
Dartnell believes strongly in the value of cross training and is an ardent supporter of GFC's "Career Development Increment" (CDI) program.
"Today's workforce is highly mobile," said Dartnell, "so any time you can improve the skills in your toolbox, you become more marketable. CDI and cross training enhance our workforce and provide great opportunities for self-development and learning new skills. These are win-win opportunities for all our employees and the GFC."
When Dartnell is not leading the charge toward an ever-improving GFC, he can be found on his family tree farm, where he likes to saddle up one of his three quarter horses and go for a trail ride.
"We raise a vegetable garden and cut and bail hay for our horses," he said. "I enjoy working on the land and like to fish and hunt when time permits."
Dartnell's wife, Maryann, teaches high school physics and science in Morgan County where their daughters went to school.
"Camilla and Malin are both at Georgia Tech now," said Dartnell.
As proof that apples don't fall far from the tree, both girls are majoring in environmental engineering. And while it's unclear whether their careers will take them far away, the Dartnells agree that no place rivals their home sweet home in Georgia.
by Stasia Kelly, GFC Writer
Professional Profile highlights GFC's workforce and the variety of services they provide to Georgia.