By Starrla Cray
DELANO, LORETTO, MONTROSE, MN The piercing “beep, beep, beep” of a smoke detector can be a good thing, especially when it alerts people to get out of a fire-filled building.
Fire prevention week is Oct. 3-9, and the National Fire Prevention Association’s official theme for 2010 is “Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With!”
Fire departments in Delano, Montrose, and Loretto are all planning activities to educate the public about fire prevention.
Children from Montrose Elementary School will be going to the Montrose Fire Station Thursday, Oct. 7 and Friday, Oct. 8 to see the fire trucks and learn about fire safety.
“I think it helps a lot,” Montrose Fire Chief Mike Marketon said. “Our calls have been going down gradually in the last 10 years.”
This year, the Montrose Fire Department has had 114 calls so far. Normally, it’s at about 130 by this time, Marketon said.
Marketon has been doing fire prevention education for 22 years, and he’s definitely noticed a change.
“We used to have a lot more grass fires,” he said. “There are fewer kids playing with matches and starting fires. The biggest thing we’re trying to push now is evacuation.”
A letter will be sent home with students, encouraging them to talk to their parents about determining a safe meeting location in case of a fire. Parents will sign the letters, and then they will be brought back to school and put in a drawing for a prize.
The Loretto Fire Department is also planning fire prevention education activities. Firefighters will be going to Saints Peter and Paul Academy to talk to students, and the department is also having an open house.
The public is invited to the Loretto Fire Hall Saturday, Oct. 9 from 4 to 8 p.m. for a pig roast.
“It’s a free-will donation to eat,” Loretto Fire Chief Jeff Leuer said.
The evening will be filled with family-friendly activities.
“We’re having inflatables, a clown, and face painting,” Leuer said.
There will also be fire truck rides, drawings, and a silent auction.
Loretto currently has 29 firefighters on its team, but the maximum is 35.
“We’re looking for more,” Leuer said.
So far this year, the department has responded to 250 calls, which is about average, according to Leuer.
The Delano Fire Department has had 353 calls so far in 2010, the majority of which were medicals and fire alarms, Captain Gary Zitzloff said.
One of the more memorable calls this year happened during Delano’s Fourth of July celebration.
“We had gotten called to a person who was feeling dizzy and lightheaded, but she was ok when we got there,” Zitzloff said.
The fire department found out it was the patient’s birthday, so, as she was sitting on the back of the truck getting her blood pressure and pulse taken, the six firefighters on duty started singing “Happy Birthday” to her.
“Each call is memorable to each firefighter in its own way,” Zitzloff commented. “The tragic losses stick with us for a lifetime, as do the tragic accidents, but there are also the ‘good calls,’ where we see someone walking around who we have helped, or even the new baby that we helped deliver.”
There are 26 active members on the Delano Fire Department roster, but new people have been applying to join.
“We should be adding some new members shortly,” Zitzloff said.
For fire prevention week, the Delano Fire Department will be going to local schools and daycare facilities.
“We teach the simple basics of ‘stop, drop, and roll,’ as well as prevention and the use of safety devices such as smoke detectors,” Zitzloff noted. “We also show the kids our turnout gear, so they can learn to not be afraid of a firefighter in a real emergency.”
Members of the Delano Fire Department work hard to keep the community safe. They are:
• Bob Van Lith, chief
• Tim Esler, assistant chief
• Dan Alger, captain
• Gary P. Zitzloff, captain
• Mike Ditty, captain
• Jeff Shrode, captain
• Matt Van Lith, training officer
• Willie Staunton, secretary
• Mark Alger
• Mike Frach
• Phil Carlberg
• Jeff Otto
• Brian Anderson
• Derick Hoiland
• Dan Reimer
• Allen Rolf
• Jason Groskreutz
• Troy Meyer
• Randy Weege
• Jason Dreger
• Travis Esler
• Steve Zitzloff
• Jacob Kittok
• Nick Werder
• Scott Pivec
• Mike Wisner
There are several dedicated members of the Montrose Fire Department, including:
• Michael Marketon, chief 1
• Jason Chaffins, chief 2
• Jeffrey Trout, chief 3
• Steve Mortensen, captain 1
• Justin Graham, captain 2
• Kevin Triplett, captain 3
• Willie Bauernschmit
• Dan Berent
• Jeff Daniels
• Mike Daniels
• Geoff Driscoll
• Brad Driver
• Joel Ernst
• Dave Hausladen
• Roy Henry
• Keith Johnson
• Justin Larson
• Tom Marketon
• Matt Menard
• Allen Mortensen
• Randy Mortensen
• Darrin Orr
• Craig Otto
• Allan Torkelson
• Jim Tourville
• Bruce Triplett
• Jeff Trout
• Jeff Wanhala
• Tom Weineck