This past Wednesday night (24 March 2021), the TFS Volunteer Fire Department had its much-delayed annual meeting at the Trego Civic Center. The evening included a discussion of the expenses of the fire department, the activity of the department, appointment of new board members, a bylaw change, and a mention of a proposed fee increase that will be taken to the commissioners. The meeting ended with a reminder to everyone to take bread home with them.
A much delayed meeting:
The annual meeting requires at least 20 members to attend. Conventionally, the annual meeting is held in November, however there were not enough people in attendance to hold November’s meeting. Members of the department expressed their disappointment at poor attendance. Twenty-one members attended Wednesday’s meeting, making a full quorum.
- Purchased Fire Station Software Program for Record Keeping (c. $1,300 initial cost, and $200 in yearly upkeep).
- Upgraded the electricity to the Trego Station (the lights flickered and occasionally went out when the wind blew).
- Purchased 4 new SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) packs without bottles. Each SCBA pack cost about $4000, a considerable savings without new $1000 bottles. This brings the department to a total of 12 full packs and 4 spare bottles.
- Acquired a 2008 F-550 type 6 fire engine on lifetime loan from the DNRC
The department attended a greater number of calls, since the ambulance was attending fewer (due to fear of exposing the ambulance crew to Covid). From November of 2019 to November of 2020 the department had a total of 36 calls. Seven were aid calls, one of which was actually a cat in a tree.
The department set up WEX cards for tax-exempt fuel purchasing, ran first-aid and CPR classes, and taught emergency drills. They also passed pump testing on all three engines with no issues – to some acclaim from their testers.
The department’s raffle was postponed due to Covid. The firearm being raffled is a Henry 45-70. The business and firefighter to sell the most tickets will each receive a Henry 47 HMR. The department will be selling tickets at Rendezvous Days.
New Board Members:
Of the current board, three positions were up for election. Those held by: Wayne Nowacki (representing the area at large), Josh Helgert (representing Trego) and John Menke (representing Fortine): John Menke and Josh Helgert were reappointed and Dan Schenkram of Trego replaced Wayne Nowacki.
All three alternate board members positions were up for election (terms are yearly). Jacob Chrestensen of Stryker, Matthew Kelley, Justin Menke, were nominated to the at-large, Trego, and Fortine positions, respectively.
Section 2. Qualifications of Members. Any person shall be qualified to be a member of the corporation if A. he or she is (1) over 18 years old, (2) is assessed a fee by Lincoln County for fire protection within the TFS Fire Service Area, andTFS Volunteer Fire Department By-laws, as amended.
(3) is not a member of any other fire department.“
The amendment, which was approved, removed part 3 of the membership qualifications, so that residents of TFS Fire District that are part of Eureka’s fire department can still be voting members of TFS Volunteer Fire Department.
Proposed Fee Increase:
With the departmental budget rather tight, fee proposals are being discussed. At this stage, it’s discussion only. Later, they’ll go to the commissioners, and folks will have a chance to vote.
Currently, the department collects about $45,000 annually. The proposal is to double the fire protection fees. The current fee is 50$ for homeowners (it was raised from $25 to $50 in 2010), businesses pay more. Another suggestion was that the fee be based on taxable value, so that folks with larger houses and outbuildings would pay more for fire protection.
The public is welcome to attend training nights, as well as the TFS VFD’s monthly board meetings.
Trainings happen on Monday nights at 7 PM at the Fortine Fire Hall, between the Fortine Mercantile and the greenboxes on Highway 93.
Meetings are held the Second Tuesday of each Month, at 7 PM, also at the Fortine Fire Hall.