By Jennifer Gallus
HOWARD LAKE, MN - Fire trucks have been very visible throughout Howard Lake for the last couple of weeks as fire prevention education has been in full force, beginning Oct. 5 with National Fire Prevention Week.
Not only did school students in pre-k through first grade receive a visit from firefighters, so did many Howard Lake daycares, and even Munson Lakes Nutrition.
For the young school children, “We want to make sure they’re not afraid of us in our firefighter gear,” in case the child is ever involved in a fire, explained Howard Lake firefighter and EMT Glenn Hofer.
To accomplish this, the firefighters began their presentation in regular clothes, and then slowly put on their turn-out gear, piece by piece, and stress that they’re still the same person underneath, Hofer explained.
The firefighters also explain what to do when the children hear a smoke detector alarm, and that they should never go back inside a house that’s on fire.
Good fires versus bad fires are also discussed with the children.
Last year, several Howard Lake daycares requested visits from the fire department, which is a new service the department now provides. Two new daycares were added to the department’s list of visits this year.
“We customize our program to the age of the kids,” Hofer said.
All of these visits are done during the daytime hours, which can be difficult to coordinate since all the volunteer firefighters work full-time jobs, as well.
“It can be a man-power issue, but whomever can help does,” Hofer said.
Of the 25 fire department members, 20 of them are certified EMTs, and four out of those 20 are paramedics, as well, who work for other services.
“So 20 of us are trained at a medical level or higher,” Hofer explained.
The department’s roster boasts many long-time volunteers, as well as newcomers. The following is a listing of the Howard Lake volunteer firemen, and how long they’ve served the city and surrounding townships.
Howard Lake firefighters are Dennis Bobrowske (30 years), Joe Drusch, fire chief (27 years), Richard Diers (26 years), Taddy Drusch (17 years), Don Mages (17 years), Tom Kutz (16 years), Paul Utne (16 years), Kurt Bobrowske (16 years), Steve Halverson, assistant chief (14 years), Merlyn Drusch (14 years), Tom Diers (14 years), Craig Loebertmann (13 years), Scott Graham (10 years), Keith Bobrowske (10 years), Glenn Hofer (eight years), Kurt Strub (eight years), Eric Stoll (eight years), Joseph Sherod (five years), Tim Berg (five years), David Peterson (four years), Jeremy Peterson (four years), Jeff Granrud (three years), Pat Salonek (three years), Curtis Larson (one year), and Steven Bobrowske (one year).
The Howard Lake Fire Department also provides fire education, by request, to businesses in town. The department trained about 30 employees at Munson Lakes Nutrition last Wednesday in fire safety, prevention, and how to use a fire extinguisher.
About 20 minutes of classroom instruction was provided before each employee was given hands-on instruction as they each extinguished a fire that was lit in a shallow pan.
Employees were told that a fire doubles every minute, and were given a list of variables to consider before deciding whether to fight a fire with an extinguisher or to wait for the fire department.
Different types of fires were discussed, as well as different types of extinguishers available to fight the variety of fires.
Participants were also instructed to aim at the base of the fire and not the flames to effectively extinguish the fuel of the fire.
Many employees were surprised with the ease of using a fire extinguisher and how fast the small fires were extinguished.
After the training, the fire department headed back to the fire barn, having shared their knowledge until it is requested or needed again.