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Dunn County should take over fire protection responsibilities!
Over the last several weeks we have learned about the uproar from some citizens living in the Dunn County Township of Sherman about their town board having communications with the Menomonie Rural Fire Department officials.
Those concerns are that the town board apparently is toying with the idea of asking the Menomonie Rural Fire Department to provide fire protection coverage for the entire township. At present coverage is divided about equally between the Boyceville Fire Department and the Menomonie Rural Fire Department.
Boyceville is currently planning to construct a new fire station and that cost would be shared between all municipalities receiving protection from the Boyceville Fire Department.
The Boyceville department has also ordered a new fire engine at a cost of more than a half million dollars. I am guessing that Sherman town officials are seeking a way to provide fire protection without having to come up with their share of the funds to cover the cost of planned improvements at Boyceville.
Seven years ago, Colfax built a new fire station with the costs divided among those receiving service from Colfax. But the Town of Tainter moved all its territory into the Menomonie Department, leaving Colfax.
Part of Tainter Township is within three miles of Colfax and we have learned that the Colfax Fire Department responds into its old coverage area under the Mutual Aid Agreements, and receives no payment for that service. The same would be true for Sherman Township as it butts up to the Village of Boyceville and is less than a mile from the proposed new fire station in Boyceville.
In a recent report given at the meeting of the Colfax Community Fire Department Board it was learned that the Colfax Fire Department has supplied mutual aid to the Menomonie Department three times to date in 2018 and has received aid from Menomonie twice. I would agree that over time the mutual aid evens out for the number of times it is received or furnished.
I have been a member of the Glenwood City Fire Department for over a half a century and I have watched as one department gobbles up area from its neighboring department and that is also true in the ambulance services. Just recently the Boyceville Ambulance service acquired area from Glenwood City in the Town of Tiffany. Each time this happens, there are financial gains for one department and a loss for the other.
Sometimes it seems like a match between departments, but it’s the local board that makes the decision and I fully support the idea that the elected officials have the power to decide who provides that service. The enemy here is not one department over the other; the enemy here is the fire. I am only going to mention that response time is very important because an uncontrolled fire doubles in size every minute.
That is why as an outsider, I think the idea of Dunn County taking over the fire services should be looked at. One thing that would be off the table is the worry about receiving payment for services rendered, and one station could provide equipment and personnel to another area and all would be on the same team and all would be equal.
But whether the county could raise the funds to operate within the property tax levy limit in place would be the first hurdle to overcome.
To me the present mutual aid and MABAS agreements, are a sacred cow, and have brought fire fighting into the modern world with neighbor helping neighbor and I would certainly not like to see them disturbed.
If you have a question about how effective those agreements are, I would direct your memory back four and a half years ago when fire struck the new Glenhaven Nursing Home building in Glenwood City. Before it was over, 81 pieces of emergency equipment and 233 emergency personnel were in Glenwood City working at the scene.
I get choked up every time I think that on a snowy day in January, how great the response was to that call for help.
Thanks for reading! ~Carlton