Pine River Fire Department holds 9th open house
The Pine River Volunteer Fire Department will hold its 9th annual pig roast and open house Saturday, Sept. 21, from 1-11 p.m. at the fire station on Range Line Road. The event is the largest annual fund raiser for the fire department.
Area businesses and individuals have chipped in to provide more than $7,000 worth of raffle prizes to be given away throughout the day. The big raffle includes more than a dozen donated items including a $1,000 Best Buy gift card, a generator, firearms, chainsaw and cash prizes.
“We have been so grateful for the generosity of the community,” said Fire Chief John Uttech. “It means a lot to us and says a lot about our community.”
Tickets are available in advance or from any fire department member or at the event. Several additional raffles will be held and tickets will be available at the event.
Fire department personnel will be putting on fire and rescue demonstrations. The safety house trailer will be on hand and Freddy the Fire Truck and Sparky the Fire Pup will make appearances. Weather permitting, the Aspirus Medevac helicopter will land near the fire station as well.
Food, including roast pork sandwiches, will be served from 1-7 p.m. Plan B will provide live music from 7-11 p.m.
The Pine River Fire Department held its first open house in 2005 to show off its brand new fire station. The event has grown since then and draws hundreds of people.
The money raised each year is used to improve the department, either by providing additional training for members or by purchasing equipment. Funds from the open house have purchased a thermal imaging camera, paid the majority of the cost of a rescue truck, purchased and outfitted a trailer for the department’s 6-wheel ATV, and purchased pulse oxygen meters for the Pine River First Responders.
The department receives funding from the township of Pine River to meet its basic budgetary needs. For additional expenses, the department relies of fund raising and grants.
“We set lots of goals for the first 10 years and most of those goals are pretty much completed,” Uttech said. “We have been able to purchase several vehicles partially through fund raising. We just purchased a truck half with equipment replacement funds from the town and half through fund raising efforts.”
The new tender truck, a 1996 model, was purchased from a fire department in southern Wisconsin that was absorbed in a consolidation. The tender truck provides a vital link for rural firefighters, transferring water from natural sources to fire scenes.
“We can do a lot of things with this truck that we couldn’t do with the old one,” Uttech said.
In the past year, the department has also completed a tower and antenna project at the fire station. The new tower greatly enhances emergency communication in Pine River following the federal mandate for narrow band communication.
With the anticipated proceeds of this year’s open house, the department plans to update its fire hoses to meet National Fire Protection Association standards, which recommend that all hoses be less than 25 years old. The department is currently using some large-diameter hoses that are older than that.
The department’s roster currently includes 26 volunteer firefighters and nine first responders. In recent years, the Pine River Fire Department and First Responders have averaged more than 80 calls annually. That includes fires, vehicle accidents and ambulance calls, on which First Responders assist.