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Ceremony reminds firefighters of long history of volunteer fire services

Jodi Summit
Posted 2/25/21

EAGLES NEST TWP- Dressed in fire gear with wide light-reflecting stripes, members of the Eagles Nest Volunteer Fire Department, along with some help from other volunteer firefighters, …

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Ceremony reminds firefighters of long history of volunteer fire services

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EAGLES NEST TWP- Dressed in fire gear with wide light-reflecting stripes, members of the Eagles Nest Volunteer Fire Department, along with some help from other volunteer firefighters, “pushed” the department’s brand-new fire engine into its new home at the Eagles Nest Fire Hall. Firefighters from Morse-Fall Lake, Ely, and Breitung stopped by at the hall on Feb. 16 to help with the ceremony.
The fire hall sits at the top of a small hill, so the push-in was symbolic, not literal, with one firefighter at the wheel gently backing the truck into its new home.
“This is our department’s first brand-new engine,” said Eagles Nest Fire Chief Larry McCray. “We are excited.”
McCray, who assumed the chief position in Eagles Nest after a long career in emergency services, talked about how volunteer fire departments like Eagles Nest are built on tradition.
“Fire departments didn’t have radios long ago,” he said. “They used bugles to get messages out.”
The emblem on a fire chief’s helmet features five bugles, because a fire chief would have an assortment of bugles, each used for a different message.
“The number of bugles in the emblem indicates rank,” he said.
The push-in ceremony also is built on a tradition that dates back hundreds of years, McCray said.
“Steam engines were pulled by horses,” he said. “When they got back to the fire hall, the horses were unhooked, and the fire department members would have to push the engine back into the hall.”
Volunteer fire brigades have been around since ancient Roman times, he said, and were called familia publica.
“We are brothers and sisters in fire service,” he said.
The Eagles Nest Volunteer Fire Department is one of the newest in the area, formed less than 30 years ago when the township was created after splitting off from Breitung Township. The back wall of the department is filled with portraits of the founding department members. The department currently has 15 members, some of whom provide emergency medical services (EMRs).
“We want to honor them today as well,” McCray said. “They built our department’s reputation with their hard work, caring, and dedication.”
When the department’s main truck broke down last summer, McCray said he was nervous about asking the town board to purchase a new truck. But he was pleasantly surprised by the board’s positive response. The township had been setting aside $20,000 the past five years, knowing that such a purchase would be needed.
The $306,000 new truck is a 2021 Rosenbauer, with a 1,500 gallon-per-minute pump, and a 1,000-gallon tank. The township paid $100,000 up front and financed the rest through Frandsen Bank. The truck should be paid off in 10 years, McCray said, without having to raise the levy.
The department’s last engine, which was purchased used, lasted 30 years, and McCray said they expect this new one to be in service for a minimum of 25 years. The department’s smaller engine is outfitted with a mini-pump and is 28 years old, and their tender (water hauler) is 11 years old.
Department members got their initial training after the push-in ceremony on Feb. 16.
The department is planning a township-wide evacuation drill in August as part of emergency preparedness training.

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