Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Chippewa Falls Fire Chief Lee Douglas remembers when having black soot on his helmet was a badge of honor.
“I call it foolish now, but that’s exactly what we did,” Douglas told Chippewa Valley Technical College President and employees Tuesday after accepting from the College items to decontaminate after a fire. “That was kind of our way of saying, ‘Hey, look at me. I put out a fire.’ Now things like these buckets give us that opportunity to not carry that stuff with us.”
CVTC President Sunem Beaton-Garcia, Fire Training and EMS Continuing Education Manager Mark Schwartz and Foundation representative Kaela Stendahl presented Chippewa Falls Fire & Emergency Services with two five-gallon buckets full of items like a self-retracting water hose, dish soap, a scrub brush and special shampoo.
Firefighters nowadays know to scrub and rinse after fighting fires but having the right items on the rig might not be top of mind. Schwartz and Stendahl put their heads together to change that.
“I originally got the idea from the state of Florida, which issued one of these buckets to every single fire engine in the state,” he said. “We’re using a lot of synthetics when we’re building houses now, like rubbers and glues, and when it burns, it just turns into cancer-causing materials. When these firefighters are going into a structure fire, they’re wearing all of that stuff. Now they can wash it off before they even get back in the truck.”
Once Schwartz was satisfied with his research, his first call was to Stendahl, a member of the College’s Foundation team.
“When Mark (Schwartz) approached the Foundation … we were happy to assist in raising funds so he could purchase the supplies needed for the buckets,” she said. “I’m pleased to share that we raised more than $4,700 for this project, with the CVTC Alumni Association as our largest sponsor.”
Many firefighters in the CVTC district of 11 counties are alumni. An estimated 50 percent of the Chippewa Falls fire department firefighter-paramedics are graduates of CVTC.
Beaton-Garcia thanked Nate Martell, firefighter paramedic lieutenant, Nick Mompier, firefighter paramedic, and the entire firefighter paramedic team in Chippewa Falls for putting their lives at risk daily.
“This is a small part of what we can do to show support for first responders,” she said. “Thank you so much for everything you do for our community. We wanted to make sure that we give you our best so you can be your best.”
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