Fire department has good peopleThe recent improvement in the insurance rating of the department did not happen overnight.
By: Mark Schlangen, Two Harbors Fire Department chief, Lake County News Chronicle
The recent improvement in the insurance rating of the department did not happen overnight. The last Insurances Services Organization survey was in 1990. Many people have had a hand in this rating change.
The volunteer firefighters who drop whatever they are doing when the pager goes off and respond to a call are the very backbone of the department. Many people don’t realize that when the fire department is called, every individual that responds was doing something else at that moment. It could have been work, taking care of children, spending time with family, enjoying a hobby, or maybe even sleeping. Yet, when the pager goes off, each firefighter has to make the decision if they can leave what they are currently doing to respond to the call. Thankfully for our community, we have a very dedicated group of firefighters that will drop what they are doing and respond to any emergency.
All past firefighters and officers have had a role in getting us to where we currently are. There are a few individuals who deserve some extra recognition.
Longtime chief Bob Sellman not only saw the fire department transition to the current location, he also laid the groundwork for an equipment replacement schedule to keep the fire department’s apparatus up-to-date and functional.
Chiefs Jimmy James and Mike Cardinal continued with the work Chief Sellman had done and saw the first water storage systems put into operation at Silver Creek Cliff.
Chief Scott Larson challenged the department to increase the diversity of training and most notably brought all fire departments in Lake County to a huge advancement with a successful breathing apparatus grant. It was through this grant that all fire departments in Lake County were able to standardize our gear and make an advancement with this important piece of firefighting equipment.
Chief Steve Blettner continued with the success of Chief Larson and most importantly worked diligently to make a smooth transition to the current department’s structure. All firefighters and officers that have served on the Two Harbors Fire Department should be proud of the contributions made to the department.
The credit for the improvement in the rating does not stop here. The government officials who support the fire department have been, and will continue to be, an integral part of the success of the department. Along with the governing bodies, all employers that allow and encourage their employees to respond to fire calls should be recognized.
The business community of Two Harbors has always been very supportive of the department and has recognized the value of a volunteer department.
Then there are the unsung heroes. It’s easy to recognize the importance of all of the above. The truth is there is one group that is often overlooked and without their support the department would not be where it currently is. This group includes all of the families and significant others of firefighters.
It takes a special person to be supportive of a volunteer firefighter. When the pager goes off and the firefighter decides to drop everything to respond, someone is usually left holding the bag. This can mean dinner plans disrupted, a visit from the “in-laws” without any help, family activities cut short or cancelled altogether. The list goes on and on. Truly, the families of the volunteers pay a price many times over for the benefit of the volunteer department. Fortunately, many of these families are of the same stock as our volunteers and easily recognize the importance of changing plans to help someone in need.
It is through the cumulative efforts of all of the above that results in a strong fire department. The mission of the fire department will always be to provide the best service possible when called to an emergency. If the department can also save homeowners and businesses some money on insurance rates, this is an added benefit.
The ISO rating is just one piece of the puzzle and can be used to quantify the service provided. It is important to remember that this is just one aspect of a fire department. Words, and certainly not numbers, can hardly describe the value of having a department ready to respond to an emergency – especially when it is your emergency.
The THFD is proud of the service it provides and will continue to strive to provide the best service possible.
The department would like to thank all of the support from the community, Lake County Board of Commissioners, Silver Creek Township, and the Two Harbors City Council. Together we can accomplish great things and the improvement of the ISO rating is a testament to this.
Residents are encouraged to contact their insurance representative to discuss how the lowering of the ISO rating might affect insurance premiums. Each insurance company may utilize the ISO information differently, so a discussion with the company is important.
Hopefully, the improvement in the fire protection rating will save residents and businesses some money. If the improved rating does save you money, the fire department is interested in hearing about it. Contact the Two Harbors Fire Department at 522 1st Ave., Two Harbors, MN 55616.