The mission of the Black River Falls Fire Department is to protect and serve the community and its' surrounding areas through effective education in fire prevention and safety. When called upon, We, the members of this department, vow to respond with prompt and efficient services that will be delivered with the safety of the people we serve and all it's members as our first priority.
The Black River Falls Fire District covers 300 square miles, including the City of Black River Falls; and the Townships of Adams, Albion, Brockway, Komensky, Manchester, and Millston; and portions of Alma and Irving. The district serves 10,776 residents.
|John Jessop||3rd Assistant Chief||7/29/1978|
|Darren Vase||1st Assistant Chief||5/7/1986|
|Steve Schreiber||Fire Chief||10/27/1987|
|Brad Chown||2nd Assistant Chief||9/11/1994|
|Mike Muth||1st Captain||3/17/2000|
|Matthew Haas||3rd Captain||12/2/2003|
|Jody Stoker||2nd Captain||3/23/2005|
|Scott M. Path||Firefighter||07/09/2010|
|Ryan J. Whaley||Firefighter||07/13/2010|
Apparatus and Equipment:
Darley 1500 GPM rear mount pump with Class A foam system. 1000 poly tank. Roof mounted light tower. 8 person cab.
Engine 2 (2007 Pierce Saber Contender Series)
Waterous 1250 GPM pump with Class A & B foam system. 1000 gallon poly tank. 6 person cab.
Engine 3 (1996 Pierce [Quint] 65' Telesquirt)
Waterous 1250 GPM pump with Class A foam system. 500 gallon poly tank. 6 person cab.
Engine 4 (2008 F-450 4 x 4 Brush Truck)
300 Gallon poly tank with a foam cell. 250 GPM pump with Class A foam system.
This unit not only serves as the department "wildland fire/brush" truck but also a support vehicle which tows the off-road rescue mule, the fuel spill and hazmat trailer.
Squad 1 [formally Rescue 4] (1993 Freightliner) with "Hackney" Beverage Body.
It carries extraction tools, hazmat supplies, roof mounted light tower, 7.5 kw generator and is used to protect those on a scene with the use of the traffice advisor roof mounted arrow board. The unit also carries a breathing air cascade system to refill self contained breathing apparatus bottles on scene.
Tender 2 (1994 Freightliner with 2000 gallon poly tank)
Command Vehicle (2005 Tahoe)
Hazmat and Fuel Spill Trailers
Off road rescues of the ATV, dirt bike and other outdoor activities is the job for the department mule. The 1997 Kawasaki off road vehicle is towed to the location of the rescue and used to transport medical personal and equipment to the injured person. The unit is setup to transport one injured in the supine position while allowing medical staff to continue treatment during the transport to a waiting ambulance. The unit is also used at wildland fires transporting equipment and fire fighters to remote fire locations.
Watch A Video Of The Black River Falls Fire Department
2009 Annual Black River Falls Fire Department Report
The 2009 annual report of the Black River Falls Fire Department will address equipment, staffing, and incident / alarm information.
The Black River Falls Fire District covers 300 square miles, including the City of Black River Falls; and the Townships of Adams, Albion, Brockway, Komensky, Manchester, and Millston; and portions of Alma and Irving. The district serves an estimated 11,365 residents with a total valuation of the fire district at $746,324,964.89.
Station / Facilities
The two story section and first three apparatus bays of the station are 44 years old. The station is showing its age and is not very energy efficient. Some of the windows in the first floor storage / janitor area and the apparatus bay area are originals. During the winter months the cold air can be felt coming through the concert block walls and the furnaces are running a lot.
During the 2008 and 2009 winter months the station sewer lines were freezing and for a couple months we were not able to use the rest rooms, janitor room or wash firefighter bunker gear. The lateral line going out to the street was thawed three times and the plumbers stated it would continue to freeze up. We were advised it would be best to stop using water in this section of the building until spring 2009.
The roof over the 1966 apparatus bay area is due for replacement and has been include in the Departments 2010 budget.
We are out of space within the station for equipment, record storage, administration and staff as I have reported in the past. Walking space between equipment is even limited in areas of the station and has me concerned about the safety of the Department members when apparatus is being moved.
The ceiling /roof height of the apparatus bays also does not allow one to work on the pumper’s within the station as they are tilt cabs. This means we have to work on the trucks outside where the cabs can be raised. Investigating a problem or working on a truck in the rain or in the winter temperatures is not ideal.
The diesel exhaust from the vehicles / apparatus running in the station continues to be a health concern of mine for all members and staff of the Department. The exhaust soot can be seen on the walls through out the station. It has been proven that the exhaust and the carcinogens within it cause cancer. To address this problem and concern the Departments 2009 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) was written for a station vehicle exhaust system. The AFG request was in the amount of $99,670.
A new station is in the Department scheduled outlay for 2020. I know that due to the economic times we are currently in building a new station at time is about out of the question. There may be some grant dollars out that could help with such a project. I also am not sure that remolding the current station would be a good choose or even possible due to it’s precast ceiling construction and support beams.
2009 Alarm Review
The Department total alarms were down for the year which is not what the national fire and insurance experts were predicting for the current economic times the nation is experiencing. The Department responded to 203 alarms for the year which is down by 21 alarms from 2008. The ten year average is 196 alarms. A Department response was made to 173 of the alarms and the Chief or Chief on Call responded to 30 of the 203 alarms.
The 2009 fire loss / damage estimate is $559,570. The year’s fire loss estimate is the lowest it has been in five years. The ten year average is $816,219.70.
Attached is a “2009 Alarm Data” report. This report breaks down the alarms by type and there location for the year.
A fire at the Airport Bar located in the Township of Brockway on January 1, 2009 was the largest commercial structure fire in the district. This fire loss was estimated at $125,000. The fire origin was narrowed down but an exact cause for the fire has not been determined.
A building be remodeled at 504 East Second Street (Old Club 12) located in the Township of Brockway caught on fire when a trouble light is believe to have started installation in the attic on fire. This fire loss is estimated at $170,000. This fire occurred on June 9, 2009 and brought mutual aid in from the Hixton and Merrillan Fire Department to battle the fire.
On October 25, 2009 a structure (house) fire at, 115 Oak Street, in the City of Black River Falls caused an estimated $140,000 in damage. The home has been repaired and the owners have moved back in. The cause of this fire has not been fully determined but may have been smoking materials.
The single largest vehicle fire loss occurred on October 25, 2009 shortly after the Department had cleared from the above fire. A motor home camper at the Castle Mound State Park was a total loss estimated at $24,500. The two occupants were able to escape and from their statements it appears a short in the vehicle may have caused this fire.
Motor vehicles crashes continue to be the majority of the alarms that the Department is paged out for. Of the 45 crash’s responded in 2009 the Township of Adams had the most crashes responded to at 11.
16 wildland fires burnt an estimated 59.75 acres in 2009. On May 20th a wildland fire on Bell Mound Road in the Township of Brockway burnt some 48 acres. The cause of the fire appears to be failure to extinguish a camp fire. 15 Department Firefighters logged 111.5 hours working on this fire.
Hazmat incidents were down this year by four alarms over 2008. Seven of the ten alarms did occur in the City of Black River Falls and were at the Flying J Travel Plaza for spilled diesel fuel. Two of the alarms were for spills over 100 gallons or more of fuel. One of the spills that occurred on August 25th by an unknown spiller made its way into the wet land area between the Flying Property and DNR Service Center property. The spill was turned over to the DNR for further clean up and monitoring to the wet land area.
A semi unit double bottom trailer rolled over on I-94 at mile post 120 in the Township of Brockway on August 4th. The trailer was to be carrying some acid within its cargo load. This incident closed the interstate west bound lane for several hours and also a State Regional Level A Hazmat Team response from Eau Claire. Eight Department Firefighters and Hazmat Techs logged 42.5 hours on this incident. The package / container was located and placed in an over pack drum.
The second largest amount of alarms the Department had in 2009 was for false alarms. There were 41 false alarms in 2009. These were found to be caused by system malfunction, lack of system maintenance, pulling of fire alarm pull stations within building and failure to notify the alarm company of system testing taking place.
Recreational vehicles incidents (ATV’s, dirt bikes and snowmobiles) accounted for 12 alarms when the Departments Off-Road Rescue Mule would respond to transport EMS personal to the patient and then transport the patient off the trail to the ambulance.
The Department had 38 alarms for miscellaneous or service calls. These alarms were for reports of illegal burning; carbon monoxide (CO) alarms with no CO found, assist another agency, a cat in the tree, and smoke / odor calls that were unfounded.
Ambulance assistance was given six times during the year. These are times when the crew needs extra help with moving patient down stairs or lifting do to the patient’s size and or location they are in.
I am pleased report that there was one minor civilian related fire injury 2009. The civilian had a small blister to a hand and did not seek medical treatment. This injury occurred during a kitchen fire at 22 ½ South First Street in the City of Black River Falls on May 25th.
There were no known fire related deaths in the district to any civilians. One civilian did have some thermo burns to his wrists from battling a wildland fire on his property. This party refused medical care or transport.
I am also pleased that we only had two minor firefighter injuries reported in 2009. One of the Departments 2009 goals was to reduce Firefighter injuries and we did reduce the number from three in 2008 to two. One Firefighter injured an ankle on the station apron during hose testing and the other injured a knee on a fire scene after stepping on a fire hose. Both firefighters were treated for a sprain / strain and released.
The Department spent 1,535 man hours on alarms during 2009.
Fire Prevention / Inspections
The Department had contacted with 872 students during National Fire Prevention Week within the schools and day care centers. Thanks to the help of several Department members during the visits to the schools and day care centers this contact with the children of the community was possible.
Most of the Departments materials for this program are purchased through the “National Fire Safety Council” with monies solicited and donated from the area / local business community. The support from the business community has been outstanding even in this difficult economic time having donated $3,663 to purchase fire prevention materials which is even up some from 2008. These materials are also used for the annual baby sitting clinic which is hosted by Black River Memorial Hospital, given after station tours, and safety events attended by the Department during the year. The materials do include adult information on fire prevention, carbon monoxide, and other home and work safety information.
Fire extinguisher training was given to several employees of local businesses.
The Department provided 26 station tours for various groups which include school groups, Scouts, the Boys & Girls Club to name a few.
Scholze Ace Home Center’s all safety day was again attended by the Department and has been an excellent opportunity for the Department to have contact with the public. The weather was cold this year during the event so attendance was down somewhat over past years. We have some of our equipment on display, provide fire prevention information, fire extinguisher education and it gives the public a chance to ask questions of the Department.
Fire inspections of commercial and public properties were conducted.
Burning is not encouraged within City limits and citizens are advised of the monthly curb side pickup as well as the drop off location at the street department for brush and yard waste.
There were no burning permits issued within the City limits in 2009.
The majority of the rural district, including the sanitation District of Brockway Township, is covered by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fire Control regulations.
The Department’s membership remained stable and full with 32 members until the last quarter when three members resigned and a fourth was released during his probationary period.
Firefighter Dan Clason resigned after having been on the Department five years. Dan is full time student working towards a degree in nursing and has a young family at home besides.
Firefighter Jeff Taylor has taken a one year leave from the Department for personal reasons.
Firefighter Dan Dehmer resigned after serving the Department and community for 16.5 years. At the Departments January 2010 Annual Meeting the department members made Firefighter Dan Dehmer an Honorary Captain for his years of service.
Beth Messelt joined the Department in December and at this writing is attending “Entry Level Firefighter (ELF) training two nights a week.
The Department does have three opening at this time and has had a couple applications submitted which the Department Screening Committee will be reviewing and interviewing to fill these opening.
Drills and Training
There were 35 drills conducted by the Department in 2009. Some of the topics addressed at the drills in the class room or out in the field include water drafting operations through ice, vehicle stabilization techniques, blood borne pathogens, knots / rope training, Federation Coop bulk fuel plant operations, wildland fire operations, vehicle extrication and pump operations just to name a few.
Six of the Departments firefighters completed State Certified I training passing both a written and practical exam. These firefighters are Jennifer Amundson, April Riley, Rich Doran, Tom Davidson, Kevin Kiesow and Justin Jessop.
Several members of the Department also attended special training on topics of interest to them which the Department paid for. These members in turn bring back information from the training and share it with the rest of the Department.
Apparatus and Equipment
Engine 1: (2001 HME / Rosenbauer [Rural Pumper Delivered New in 2003])
The Rural Fire Board was updated on the pumper at the annual meeting. The pumper continues to be costing a lot to maintain. Several valve kits were placed, primer motor burnt out and several other items were found to be needing attention on the pumper during the year.
We also continue to have trouble with the truck’s windows, wipers, door handles and keeping the windows from fogging over while returning to the station after a fire.
The Rural Fire Board wants to be and will be kept informed on the pumper.
Old Engine 2: (1993 Freightliner Chassis, 1986 General Safety Body, 1975 Darley Pump [City Pumper]) has 5,127 miles and 1,012 engine hours.
The City’s Public Safety Committee had advised the Fire Chief to dispose of this chassis in the best interest of the city back in late 2008. At that time the City was advised a local fire department had expressed interest in purchasing the chassis.
The body and pump was removed from the chassis by the Department and the chassis was sold the Hatfield Fire Department for $8,000 in July.
Engine 2: (2007 Pierce Contender [City Pumper Delivered New in 2007]
The pumper and its easy to use foam system / capabilities proved to work well for the Department at the July 31st plane vs. house crash that occurred in the Township of Brockway. The firefighters were able to quickly setup and apply Class B foam on the plane and the leaking fuel.
The firefighters really like this unit for its ease of operation and handling on the road.
Engine 3: (1996 Pierce [City Quint] Telesquirt)
The truck is in good condition. The aerial device will be due for its semi annual testing in 2010.
Engine 4: (2008 Ford E-450 Super Cab Chassis)
This unit serves as the Departments wildland fire unit as well as a tow vehicle for the Off Road Rescue Mule, the Fuel Spill Trailer and the County Level B Hazmat Trailer.
There were no problems with the unit during the year.
Squad 1: (1993 Freightliner)
The paint is bubbling all over the beverage body area of the truck. The units frame is also showing heavy corrosion and we have had trouble with the trucks electrical wiring. The reason behind the corrosion is that this unit is out in the worst road conditions when salt and other chemicals are being used on the roadways. The truck is also under powered for the load it carries. This unit is the Department’s busiest piece of apparatus and the wear is showing!
The unit responds to most all motor vehicle crashes as it carries extraction tools, hazmat supplies, lighting equipment and is used to protect those on a scene with the use of the traffic advisor roof mounted arrow board. The unit also carries a breathing air cascade system to refill self contained breathing apparatus bottles on scene.
The unit was listed for replacement on the Department’s recommended replacement schedule for 2008 / 2009. It is estimated it will cost $300,000 to $450,000 to replace the unit.
A Department study group has been formed to investigate vehicles replacement. Some of the tasks this group will look at are needs of the Department / Fire District, vehicle / unit cost, and purchasing / funding options.
Tanker 1: (1994 Freightliner)
The truck has a 2000 gallon poly tank with a beaver tail mounted pump.
The sub frame (cradle) for the tank has been found to be failing and the padding between the trucks frame rail and the tank has also been found to have fallen out in several areas.
Replacement of the tank sub frame / cradle and the padding is part of the Rural Fire Departments 2010 outlay budget. The budget estimate for this work is $8,800.
Tanker 2: (1989 GMC)
This unit has a steel tank which is not in very good condition. Water dumped from the tank is a bright orange color from the corrosion taking place inside the tank. The truck also has a manual transmission and not all the Department members can operate the unit.
At the 2009 annual meeting of the Rural Fire Department, the Chief was advised to look into replacing the tanker. The Rural Board directed the Chief to get some price information on a new tanker and then call a special meeting to discuss the project further.
At a February 17th, 2009 special meeting the Rural Fire Board approved the purchase of a new tanker with a price cap of $170,000 for the project.
Upon arrival of a new tanker the 1989 tanker will be sold by the Rural Fire Department on sealed bids.
The Command Vehicle: (2005 Tahoe)
The vehicle continues to serve the Department and Chief well. The vehicle is used on weekends by the “On-Call Chief” which allows them to respond to any alarm directly from their residence. Having a Department officer arrive on scene ahead of other responding units has been working well. This allows the officer to complete a scene size up, determine how to mitigate the problem and if other resources or mutual aid will be needed.
Organization of all the equipment and reference material within the vehicle is not the most user friendly (Tupperware type containers stacked on top of one another) but for now we will make it work.
The Hazmat and Fuel Spill Trailers: continue to serve the Department, District, and County well. The Department has been able to reduce the environmental impact of fuel spills and leaks with the fuel spill trailer. The trailer also contains a large amount of floor dri material to cover spills, absorbent booms to protect waterways and drums to pump fuel into.
The Mule: Off road rescues of the ATV, dirt bike and other outdoor activities is the job for the Department’s 1997 Kawasaki mule. The unit is towed to the location of the rescue and used to transport medical personnel and equipment to the injured person. The unit is setup to transport one injured person in the supine position while allowing medical staff to continue treatment during the transport to a waiting ambulance. The unit is also used at wildland fires transporting equipment and firefighters to remote fire locations.
The trailer the mule is transported on was replaced in 2009 as proposed in the Department’s budget. The new trailer is aluminum construction with 2”x 6” plank bed and should serve the Department well.
A complete list of suggested equipment replacement is attached to this report.
Black River Chief finds there to be way more tasks, requests, requirements to be met than one person can complete. To keep somewhat on top of these items the Chief finds working long hours and weekends much more of a job requirement logging 3,896 hours worked. This number would have even greater had not several Department members assisted with some of the work load.
Black River Chief responded to 167 of the Departments 203 total alarms for the year.
The Chief wrote several grants both for the Department and a Regional (County) grant to upgrade the County Fire and Emergency Medical Service radio system to the 2013 standards. The total for those grants written is $447,229. Most of these grants are still pending.
Grant dollars are becoming more and more competitive to get because of the tight economic times that we all are dealing with.
Department has served the community for 138 years and Chief will continue work to give its member’s the tools, training and resources to carry out the tasks the Department responds to.
The Chief will also strive to have the Department ready to answer an alarm from it’s citizenry to the very best of its ability in there time of need.
With the cooperation of many it is the belief of the Chief that challenges facing the Department now and in the future can and will be addressed in the best interest of all!