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Editor’s note: LeAnn R. Ralph serves as a supervisor on the Otter Creek Town Board, and in the absence of Mark Warner, chair of the Otter Creek Town Board, represented the township at the fire board meeting.
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Community Fire Department has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to purchase an ultra-high-pressure system.
The fire department had written the grant application for $45,000 all together, $25,000 for the fire suppression system and $20,000 for a used pickup truck, but the Bremer Foundation is changing how they consider grants and now want applicants to have “skin in the game, too,” said Don Logslett, Colfax fire chief, at the Colfax Community Fire District board meeting October 17.
The Colfax fire district includes the towns of Colfax, Grant and Otter Creek and the village of Colfax.
The Colfax fire board approved spending $20,000 for a pickup truck at the June meeting when Logslett reported he was planning to apply for the grant.
The Colfax fire department, along with fire departments from surrounding communities, gathered at Tom Prince Memorial Park in Colfax the evening of March 21, 2018, for a demonstration of the Hydrus Droplet high-pressure system.
The ultra-high-pressure system condenses a stream of water to the size of a BB that works to cool a fire fast using very little water.
Three cars were set on fire at the ball park, and the ultra-high-pressure system put out the fires in about 15 seconds using only eight gallons of water.
The ultra-high-pressure stream has a reach of about 35 feet.
The advantage in a rural fire district is that an ultra-high-pressure system mounted on a pickup truck would be able to reach a fire faster than the regular fire trucks and could start to fight the fire before the other equipment arrives.
Logslett told the fire board at the June meeting he also would like to purchase a smaller ultra-high-pressure system for the fire department’s new Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicle on tracks.
The Tainter Trail Tamers, the Colfax Sno-drifters, Dunn Energy and the Colfax Fire Fighters Association all contributed money toward the purchase of the UTV following a fatal snowmobile accident outside Colfax in early February that claimed the life of 29-year-old Brenden Shutts.
Logslett reported at the October 16 meeting the Colfax fire department had been awarded for the UTV a $6,900 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and a $2,500 grant from Dunn Energy.
The firefighters have been looking for pickup trucks and discovered they could buy used trucks 10 or 11 or 12 years old for about $20,000, Logslett said.
The cost of a brand-new three-quarter-ton four-wheel-drive pickup truck with a government discount applied would be $31,000 to $33,000, he said.
The Colfax Firefighters Association has agreed to make up the difference between the $20,000 approved by the fire board and the cost of a new pickup truck, and with $13,000 from the firefighters, the Colfax fire department would be able to purchase a new pickup truck, he said.
Logslett said the fire department had obtained information about new 2019 and 2020 Chevrolet and Dodge pickup trucks for the ultra-high-pressure system and would do some more checking about availability.
With the grants for the ultra-high-pressure system and the donation of the UTV along with money from the firefighters’ association, the Colfax fire district would have two additional vehicles to fight fires for $20,000, Logslett said.
The fire department is planning to sell the used Suburban the firefighters’ association had purchased several years ago and is considering selling one of the other trucks as well, he said.
The Colfax firefighters held a gun raffle this year to raise money, and for the past 50 years, have held the Firefighters’ Ball in September.
Logslett says the firefighters believe that since the community so enthusiastically supports their fund raisers, they owe it to the community to give the money back to the community in the form of new equipment that benefits everyone.
The Colfax Community Fire District Board approved a budget of $112,700 for 2020, the same amount as was budgeted for 2019.
The fire board approved a tax levy of $94,700 for 2020, the same amount as was levied in 2019, 2018 and for several years before that.
The vehicle replacement account has $171,101.70, and the money market business account has a balance of $43,075.04.
The tax levies for 2020 will be $36,899.33 for the Town of Colfax; $22,450.65 for the Village of Colfax; $17,434.66 for the Town of Grant; and $17,915.36 for the Town of Otter Creek.
As of October 1, the Colfax fire department has gone out on 29 runs: 7 grass fires; 6 structure fires; 3 car accidents; 4 gas leaks/carbon monoxide; 6 pool fills; 3 vehicle fires.
In 2018, the department went out on 22 runs.
The department went out on 23 runs in 2017; 18 runs in 2016; and 17 runs in 2015.
In 2019, the Colfax fire department has provided mutual aid 11 times: 1 to Boyceville; 7 to Menomonie; 1 to Elk Mound; 1 to the Chippewa fire protection district; and 2 to Sand Creek.
The Colfax fire department has received mutual aid once in 2019 from Menomonie.
In 2018, the Colfax fire department provided mutual aid 6 times and received mutual aid 6 times.
In 2017, the department provided mutual aid 12 times and received mutual aid 7 times.
In 2016, Colfax provided mutual aid 8 times and received mutual aid twice.
In 2015, the department provided mutual aid 15 times and received mutual aid twice.