August 20, 2009 at 7:25 a.m.
The department's officers this year are chief Bruce Peterson, and Tom Alldritt, Marc Clay and John Guse as three assistant chiefs. Each of the assistant chiefs is in charge of a critical area to make sure the department is prepared to serve the public every day. Clay manages gear and equipment, Guse is the training and certification officer and manages all records and Alldritt is the lead in charge of truck maintenance.
Peterson, Alldritt, Clay and Guse have more than 55 years of combined experience with this fire department. Peterson also served five years with the White Bear Lake Fire Department before joining Chisago and Guse spent 10 years with the Centennial Lakes Department (which covers the Lino Lakes area.)
Also in the Chisago department, are six firefighters among the roster of 25 who have joined within the past five years.
Firefighters meet the second Tuesday of each month for a business meeting, and on the fourth Tuesday every month for a drill. The monthly drills focus on a variety of skills, including structure firefighting, driving, vehicle extrication, and ice rescue. The frequency of the calls they receive to put those skills to use for real, of course, is usually impossible to predict. There are some busy seasons, especially in early spring when grass fires are at their greatest level of concern. The department has responded to two or three grass fires in one day during some seasons. And there can be a second grass fire season in years, like this year, with dry summers. Another time of year when the department can receive multiple, similar calls in one day is during early winter, when chimney fires become an issue if chimneys haven't been cleaned for winter use.
In addition to responding to all fires in the city, the department's other duties include responding to all alarms, to help with searches when children are reported missing, and to handle traffic control at the scenes of car accidents with injuries. The firefighters also support their city and the greater area through the Chisago City Fire Relief Association through which they hold a charitable gaming license. With its gambling proceeds, the department has supported its parks and other programs, schools, churches, the Family Pathways food shelves, and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, among other community needs and requests.
The department is approaching its 100th year, having been established in Chisago City in 1912. "We have a good group of people," Chief Peterson says. "We have fun, it's a hobby. I think the community respects what we do, and I (we) enjoy this community."
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