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Heroic ‘Bucket Brigade’ saved Alabama high school from being consumed by fire

(Video Above: Georgia Pacific employees and members of the Choctaw County High School community discuss the fire, and how GP helped make the school whole again.)

BUTLER, Ala. — Located less than 20 miles apart, Georgia-Pacific (GP) paper company’s Naheola facility and Choctaw County High School have a special bond. GP has taken an active role in the community by keeping the school supplied with new classroom technology and other needs. But in February of 2013, that close relationship was strengthened when GP employee Larry Roberts led a heroic band of local volunteer fire firefighters who risked their lives to battle a blaze at the high school until it was extinguished.

Georgia Pacific’s Bucket Brigade program began in 2006 and since then has given more than $1.5 million to fire departments in the U.S. and Canada. In 2014, the company awarded $235,500 to 50 fire departments. The grants ranged from $2,500 to $10,000 in 19 different states, including Alabama.

Through GP’s Bucket Brigade program the company not only helped the school effectively put out the fire, it assisted in replacing what was lost.

At GP’s Naheola paper mill, Roberts is a fire-protection crew leader and emergency response team leader, as well as a member of the Butler Fire Volunteer Department.

“The training that we get at the mill was a big part of controlling the fire that night,” Roberts said.

Dawn Dixon, Director of Career and Technical Education for the Choctaw County school system said Georgia Pacific’s help made it possible for students to come back to school in just a few days, when it would have been months otherwise.

“GP’s support of us with technology is ongoing, they’re always ready to come back and replace what we had lost in the fire,” Dixon said.

Georgia-Pacific, based in Atlanta, Georgia is a leading paper manufacturer that produces products such as Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, and Angel Soft tissue. The company employs more than 2,440 employees at 7 facilities in Alabama, with an additional 11,640 jobs that were indirectly created. In 2015, the paper company estimated $539 million in capital investment growth in Alabama.

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