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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Town of Peshtigo Fire Commission Hears 2019 Equipment Requests

Issue Date: November 1, 2018

Only two items on the agenda resulted in a short meeting for the Town of Peshtigo Fire Commission on Monday, Oct 29. This meeting was immediately followed by the Board of Appeals meeting which lasted for roughly 10 minutes with only one item on the agenda for discussion.

Town of Peshtigo Fire Chief, Mike Folgert updated the committee on the 2019 Budget Proposal, stating the Fire Department operating amount will remain the same as 2018 at $98,795. Per a prior request from Town Treasurer, Vilas Schroeder, the Fire Department budget went to the Budget Workshop and after discussion and review, was forwarded to the Town of Peshtigo Board meeting of Nov. 20 for final approval.

In capital outlay expenses, the Fire Department is asking for $40,000 to purchase a new UTV with tracks and skid unit to replace the current Polaris 6x6. The new UTV is much more useful and efficient for fire and rescue operations. Any funds remaining after purchase of the UTV will then be put into the capital outlay for a new fire truck.

Every year the board allows the department to fund the fire truck capital outlay with approximately $25,000. At present the amount in the fund is $145,000 with a new truck at a cost between $350,000 to $400,000.

With the old one being almost 30 years old and the main truck being a 2007 at 11 years old, in the future, Folgert plans to get on a 15 year replacement plan for the fire trucks.

One of the budget amounts still showing unpaid was $37,000 for wages for the year. Salaries are paid out only one time per year and will be processed soon for an amount of $35,460, falling slightly under budget.

The amounts paid to the fire fighters are per fire and if they are on duty more than three hours, the pay rate doubles from $20 for instance to $40. Folgert commented with more and more of our guys being certified and moving to the top level, this may be the last year the department will probably stay under the salary budget of $37,000. At present there are 25 fire-fighters on the roster.

Pay scale for firefighters is $20 for probationary firefighters for those that have not yet completed the 60 hour minimum training, $22 for entry level with 60 hours of training, including those who are not active and may not be fit tested for interior firefighting or not current in FPA competencies or training, $24 for certified firefighter 1 or fire officer which includes being fit tested for interior fire fighting and current in NFPA competencies and training and $26 for advanced firefighters that include status of all of the above along with advanced level certifications, including fire fighter 2, fire officer or hazmat technician, captain or active firefighter and accumulates 50 or more service points annually.

Folgert also showcased some of the equipment used by the firefighters and addressed the aging of some of the gear. There are eight cylinders that are out of date and the air pack breathing apparatus are getting old with some of them as old as 30 years old. Some of the air packs were bought used and updated throughout the years but are getting to the point of being retired from service.

With the aging equipment, Folgert has applied for the Assistant to Firefighters Grant (AFG) in the amount of $91,400 and if they are chosen to receive the grant, they will be awarded 95% of the amount or $86,830 to be used for equipment. Of the $91,400 grant money applied for, 5% or $4,570 would be left for the department to cover the cost of.

The primary goal of the grant is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire-related hazards by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies.

Folgert applies for these grants annually and the last grant received was in 2008 for the amount of $80,000. With that being 10 years ago, the gear that was replaced is now 10 years old and out of date or soon to be outdated.

If approved, the grant would be used to replace some of the aging air packs, cylinders and gear racks. One air pack alone costs between $7,500 and $8,000 and one cylinder is between $780 and $900.

If they are not awarded the grant, Folgert stated we will definitely have to put money aside for at least the air packs, but is not asking for a change in the operating budget. He also said 2018 will come out real close to what was budgeted for the year.

Unfortunately, the process is not quick and could take up to two years to receive by the time it goes through the government channels and is not guaranteed they would receive the grant. Once submitted it gets processed in the government computer system, then goes through a review with the last step being batched for review. It is then a waiting game.

Folgert commented, this years fund raisers were very successful including a $410 grant. The proceeds and grant were used for ice and rescue equipment, three ice rescue suits, 600 foot rope reels, four helmets, an inflatable rescue boat and equipment for the boat. They also purchased eight cancer blocking hoods at $80 each that were funded from the golf outing.

A question was raised as to why the Department eliminated the Maintenance Officer position and Folgert said, "We now do as a group effort instead". This saves $250 in the budget.

The meeting ended with the committee forwarding the recommendation to the Town Board to approve the budget as presented at their next meeting on Nov. 20.

The Board of Appeals meeting immediately followed the Fire Commission meeting. Short and to the point with the only item on the agenda for a request by Timothy and Romona Roeder to add a 14 foot addition to the back side of a pole building, leaving an 11 foot set back located at W1252 County Road B in Marinette.

Two of the committee members had visited the site and commented the slab was already there and the only thing behind the proposed addition is a row of trees and is 13 feet to the end of the lot line.

After brief discussion, the committee decided it was a straight forward decision with no opposition or comments. A decision was then made to approve the request and will be forward to the Town Board for final approval at the Nov. 20 meeting.


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