Members of Eagle River Freemasons Lodge No. 248 and Rhinelander Freemasons Lodge No. 242, working with the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation, presented seven Fire Suppression Tools to northwoods fire departments that are greatly understaffed. The recipients included Pelican, Pine Lake, Little Rice, Monico, Fire District Alpha, Crescent, and Cassian fire rescue departments. These departments are responsible for providing fire and EMS calls for a large portion of Oneida County, Wisconsin.
These are all departments that have mutual aid agreements due to a lack of volunteers, and in some cases are so small they only have four people to respond to fire and EMS calls for 140 square miles. Many of these departments are not manned and responders are required to leave their jobs and families and travel to the station prior to going on a call.
Most have their EMS and some fire personnel responding to calls in their personal vehicles to shorten the time and communicate vital information to additional resources. The gift of these fire suppression tools goes well beyond responding to an emergency in these areas. In many cases it’s a matter of saving the homes and lives of a small community where departments are often responding to emergencies for those they know personally. Making this something that to many is about more than just helping the community, but helping each member of these departments individually.
Oneida County first responders pictured above — Front row from left: Mark Theiler (Pelican Fire); Member of Monico Fire; Adam (Pelican Fire); Anita Thieler (Pelican Fire); Brittany Bex (Pelican Fire); Kevin Bex (Pelican Fire); and Capt Nick Strupp and Son (Pelican Fire). Back row: Jake Kulba (Pelican Fire); Member of Monico Fire; Adam Johnson (SW Rhinelander Lodge); Member Fire District Alpha; Chief Larry Mathein (Little Rice Fire Department); Max Skenandor (JW Rhinelander Lodge); Chief Brian Gehrig (Pine Lake Fire); James Cates (Pelican Fire); Dan Schachtschneider (WM Rhinelander Lodge); Nick Cates (Pelican Fire); DR Corey Nowak; Neal Blaszke (Pelican Fire); Chief Dave Hollands (Pelican Fire); and William MacKay (JW Eagle River Lodge).
Submitted by Rev. Bro. William J. MacKay