PITTSVILLE, WI (OnFocus) – Over the course of its 125-year history, the Pittsville Fire Company has battled fires all over central Wisconsin.
The unique nature to the “company” is that it is not publicly owned. The company runs as a non-profit, private company. The Pittsville Fire Company is one of three departments that operate this way in Wood County along with Vesper and Rudolph.
Chief Jerry Minor has been with the department for 43 years and has been the fire chief for 21 years and he enjoys the fact that every day has been something different.
“Every day is different,” Minor said. “There’s never two days the same even if you don’t go on a call. We do a lot of interaction with the community. You just never know what you’re going to be doing beyond the norm. That’s what attracts me. Most people here are helpers, they’re fixers by nature. We like to help and fix problems.
The department is considered a combination department made up of 25 members. All of the fire department is made up of volunteers but the EMS crew are paid while they are on-call.
Crews train once a month on any one of 24 different training topics. The topics can include anything from ice/water rescues to rotator trainings using wreckers to lift heavy loads off of other vehicles. The company hosts joint trainings with other departments to ensure that any time mutual aid is needed for an emergency, all area responders are able to perform up to the expected level.
Minor said the trainings are more than just meeting a requirement, it’s about getting everyone on the same page.
“We need our neighbors today more than we ever have because we all have staffing issues,” Minor said. “The reason we train together is because that’s how we work together. When we do a large, regional training, it involves all of our neighbors because something that we’re going to get involved in, 90 percent of the time, they’re coming too.”
Despite the company’s small size, it responds to quite a few calls as Minor estimated they average a call per day. That might mean they go three days without getting a call but then they might also get multiple calls in a single day. Although Pittsville has a population of just over 800, the company covers a vast area of over 300 square miles which includes two parks where people spend days and weekends.
With all that area to cover, departments need bodies to help cover that area. As of late, fire departments all over central Wisconsin have experienced staffing shortages. Minor said if you are willing to work hard and support your community, give firefighting a try.
“I would love to have 10 new people that are willing to work and willing to be a part of something,” Minor said. “We want people who want to be a part of the group and function as part of the group. ”
Typically, the department would only take people who live in their service area but recent staffing issues are pushing the department to expand their pool they draw from.
The department’s fleet includes two engines (a new engine is in the process of being acquired), two water tenders, one brush vehicle, two ATVs, two boats, two ambulances and one command unit. Aside from trainings and displays of equipment, the department is also present in the community in other ways.
Most recently in their work in the community, the company helped organize the Heart & Sole race over the Fourth of July holiday. They also help with local companies and their first aid training needs. Pittsville firefighter/EMT Andrew Yerke stopped by Hay Creek Pallet in February to teach employees how to stop bleeding by using a tourniquet.
To keep up-to-date with the Pittsville Fire Company’s monthly training exercises or to get updates on the new engine that is ordered, visit their Facebook page.
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