By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, COKATO, MN - In 2008, calls for the Cokato Fire Department were up from 2007, while the Dassel Fire Department calls remained steady.
Dassel Fire Chief Dale Grochow reported 227 fire and rescue calls for 2008 from last year’s 231.
There was a total of 159 calls for medical, 16 vehicle accidents, six grass fires, eight weather watches, and two mutual aids (see graph for the remaining calls).
The largest structure fire in 2008 was the home of Bob and Joyce Jackson south of Darwin Dec. 11, in which the home was a total loss, according to Grochow and the Meeker County Sheriff’s Department.
Grochow noted this was the second fire in two years that occurred within the weeks before Christmas.
On Dec. 21 2007, the Dassel Fire Department responded to the Shannon and Shari Palm residence on Atlantic Avenue, just a block from the fire hall.
“It’s a tough time to have a fire anyway, but during the holiday season, [it seems to be] much more so,” Grochow said.
During the winter season, it appears there are more structure fires. Grochow said the potential is higher in the winter months because of the heating elements.
When it’s cold, people tend to do little extras to keep pipes from freezing and the house a little warmer, Grochow said.
The cause of the Jackson fire has not been determined, however, the cause of the Palm fire was combustibles being too close to a space heater, according to Grochow.
Grochow recalls one accident the Dassel Fire and Rescue responded to which resulted in a fatal this past year.
The accident occurred in July along Highway 15, one mile north of County State Aid Highway, involving a car and a semi-truck killing a 21-year-old Annandale man.
Pending the approval of the Dassel City Council, the 2009 Dassel Fire Department officers are: Grochow, chief; Dave Johnson, assistant chief; Jon Trotter, captain; Kurt Mortenson, assistant captain; Kevin Carlen, lieutenant; Dennis Johnson, training officer; Brian Gillman, safety officer/treasurer; and Chad Ardoff, secretary.
Firefighter Mitch Rawlins recently retired after 22 years of service.
There is currently a full staff of 29 with room for one more after Rawlins’ retirement, Grochow said.
Typically, the department hires in January and July.
If anyone is interested in joining the Dassel Volunteer Fire Department, apply at the Dassel City Hall.
The Cokato Fire Department had a total of 103 calls in 2008.
Cokato Fire Chief Mike Holmquist reported to the Cokato City Council last Monday that calls were up for 2008. The fire department responded to 20 more calls than in 2007. Holmquist commented on the number of gas leaks, as well as the number of car accidents in Cokato Township along Highway 12.
One of the most unique calls the Cokato Fire Department received was a helicopter down in Stockholm Township that occurred in August. There were no injuries.
Currently, there is a full roster and the officers have not changed from last year. They are: Mike Holmquist, chief; Ken Bakke, assistant chief; Jeff Carlson, captain; Jeff Amundsen, first lieutenant and training officer; and Kurt Dahlin as second lieutenant and training officer.
Jim Erickson of the Cokato Ambulance Service reported having 354 calls in 2008.
The 2009 membership for the ambulance service includes 15 members with the officers being, Erickson, director; Carl Harju, assistant director; Janell Moore, secretary/treasurer, and David Nyquist and Harju, training officers.