ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin



Watertown Fire Department






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Established 1857



01 27       Police dept space problem, municipal bldg renovation, three police/fire precincts   WDT



Watertown’s mayor and fire chief are proposing a plan they believe will quicken the fire department’s response time to emergency medical calls in the city.  Under the plan, which Fire Chief Richard Olson calls an affordable alternative staffing approach, the city would train paid on-call firefighters who are certified as basic emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to respond to emergency medical calls.  There are currently seven of them.  “We need to plug them in and make sure we can use them,” Olson said.  “For the city to own the equipment (to respond to emergency calls) and have the people and not use them is ludicrous.”



Fire Chief Richard Olson will retire March 31 after serving in Watertown for 5 1/2 years.  Olson gave formal notice of his retirement plans to the Watertown Police and Fire Commission this week.  Olson said, “I am age 53 and I'm qualified to retire and it has been my intention to do so at this time.  I have other things I want to do and I have some job opportunities that I will consider seriously.”  Olson said he recommends that the city appoint fire Capt. Henry Butts as interim fire chief while the department searches for Olson's replacement.  Olson succeeded Ron Weavel as chief.  Weavel held the post from 1987 [86] to 1994.


03 24       On-call firefighters for staffing needs; reinstate inter-facility transport program; Chief Olson   WDT



A fire department service in which Watertown patients are transported to hospitals in cities such as Milwaukee and Madison has been revived after a several-month hiatus.  A measure to reinstate the inter-facility transport program was signed recently by Mayor Fred Smith, Interim Fire Chief Henry Butts and Watertown Memorial Hospital Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Kathleen Hargarten.  An inter-facility transport occurs when the Watertown Memorial Hospital calls to ask the department to transport nonemergency patients to hospitals in Oconomowoc, Waukesha, Madison or Milwaukee for specialized care not available in Watertown.  On- or off-duty department personnel then take the patients in department ambulances to their destinations while ensuring the department is sufficiently staffed for city emergencies.  WDT


06 29       Joel Edwards retirement, began in the 1970s   WDT



Smoke could be seen for miles around the city of Watertown Wednesday afternoon as firefighters from four departments fought a grass fire northwest of the city.  The fire was ignited by sparks caused by grinding of the tracks.  Workers for the Canadian Pacific Railroad were grinding the railroad tracks near Walton Road in the town of Shields when a spark apparently landed in some dry marsh grass, starting the fire, according to Watertown Fire Department Capt. Bill Schwenkner.  “The final result was a big fire, involving about 400 acres,” he said.  Schwenkner had no idea how far away smoke from the fire could be seen, but he said it was a very, very large fire.  The fire was northwest of the intersection of Walton Road and the railroad tracks and on the west side of the Beaver Dam River.  Some of the acreage burned is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.   WDT



Firefighters spent more than 11/2 hours combating a smoldering fire in a 29-foot-high bin in the town of Shields.  Firefighters were called to Watertown Tire Recyclers, W7910 Provimi Rd, after waste material in the bin started on fire.  During the blaze, firefighters made three trips to Watertown to refill their tanker trucks with water because they could not access water at the site.  Employees of Camcorp, a company contracted by Watertown Tire, were repairing the bin and set the waste on fire while smoking and using a grinding tool.  The waste was a product of the tire recycling operation.   WDT




Fire struck the engine of a train bound for Illinois on the Canadian Pacific Railroad as it approached the northwest side of Watertown.  Watertown firefighters responded to the blaze at the railroad's intersection with Welsh Road just before 7 a.m.  No one was injured.  Seven firefighters contained the fire and fuel.  They spent about 20 minutes battling the fire, which caused about $30,000 in damage.   WDT



A mechanical failure caused the Saturday blaze at the Wisconsin Investcast warehouse, state investigators determined.  No criminal activity was to blame for the fire that destroyed most of the building, including its roof.  Investcast president Larry Blanton said he didn't anticipate serious disruptions in the work flow at the foundry.  He said area foundries and suppliers were supportive.   WDT



05 03       GLOBE MILL FIRE

   Flames continued to rise from the former Globe Mill on South Water Street as a state fire marshal searched the scene for a cause of the fire that completely destroyed the historic building.  As of late morning, the Watertown Fire Department was unable to explain why the fast-burning fire occurred, pushing flames through the building’s roof, but arson is believed to be the cause of the fire that destroyed the former mill and Watertown landmark. 


      Image Portfolio  


05 12       1220 E. MAIN HOUSE FIRE  [portfolio of pics]


09 06       The band shell at Riverside Park received roughly $30,000 in damage following a suspicious fire.


09 11          9-11




About 100 acres of marshland were destroyed Thursday afternoon by a fire ignited with sparks from Canadian Pacific Railroad workers who were welding on the tracks.  Heavy winds caused the fire to quickly spread in the Mud Lake State Wildlife Area off Walton Road.  Firefighters set up to prevent the fire from threatening four Izaak Walton League of Watertown property buildings.  The initial call, which reached the Watertown Fire Department at 2:15 p.m., was placed by railroad workers to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, which transferred it to Watertown. Mutual aid was provided by the Reeseville Fire Department, who set up equipment on the opposite side of the Beaver Dam River in case the fire would jump it.  However, the fire extinguished upon reaching the river.   WDT


03 18       CITY HALL EXPANSION AND RENOVATION / Watertown Municipal Building




A group of Watertown citizens has started a committee to organize fund-raising efforts for a new ladder truck.  Dennis Vanden Heuvel, who is a member of the city's police and fire commission, decided to start a fund-raising committee after seeing a need.   WDT


07 11       LIGHTS ‘N SIRENS EVENT   WDT, article & pics


12 07       AMONG THE TOP 5 %

The Watertown Fire Department ranks among the top 5 percent of departments in the state following a classification improvement by its auditors.  Earlier this year, Insurance Services Office Inc., or ISO, completed a public protection classification program of the station, which grades a community’s fire protection on a scale from one to 10.  One represents the best protection. Watertown, which had been rated a class four since its last audit in September 1987, improved to a three.   WDT



Several Watertown firefighter/paramedics/ EMTs received a unit citation award for their work during an incident which occurred on Aug. 29.  They each received certificates and pins.  Fire Chief Henry Butts said the department was extremely busy that day having received 15 calls.  The certificate reads:  “While working on the 29th day of August 2002, during operations at Alarm #2002-1185, you responded to an alarm for a ‘structural collapse.’  Upon arrival, the incident was discovered to involve a victim who had fallen into the basement when roofing supports gave way.  The successful outcome of this incident depended directly on several fire units working together utilizing the low angle rope rescue system. Your professional manner and quick actions contributed to the success of this operation.”   WDT




Spearheading a fund-raising effort for a new ladder truck for the city's fire department, Dennis Vanden Heuvel told members of the Watertown Rotary Club about the endeavor.  He began by narrating a scenario of someone who is sleeping and awakes to a smoke detector going off.  "The fire truck coming to your house is 23 years old and some of the equipment on it is over 40 years old," he said.  "Once the truck is in place, a firefighter climbs the ladder to mount the heavy 40-year-old spray nozzle, then climbs down the ladder to get the 3-inch fire hose and manually drag it back up the ladder to connect it to the nozzle.  That's what a group of us saw 10 months ago, and we had a lot of questions."   WDT




Department’s new heavy rescue squad, Squad 1, is now in service.  After intense training and change of the graphics on the unit, the squad is ready for service.  The unit was purchased for $170,000, including shipping the unit from the North Greece Fire District near Rochester, N.Y.  Fire department management personnel made two trips to inspect and receive training on the vehicle before completing the purchase.  WDT


05 15       JAMES ACKER New Firefighter/Paramedic

The Watertown Fire Department has welcomed new firefighter/paramedic James Acker to its ranks.  Acker’s first day was Thursday.  “We are very happy to have Jim on board,” Watertown Fire Chief Henry Butts said.  “He brings a lot to our department with his experience, college degree and various state certifications in fire fighting and emergency services.  He is a very nice addition to our department.”  Acker told the Daily Times he began his career in fire fighting in 1993 with the town of Menasha Fire Department.   WDT



A could become a reality in Watertown as early as next year, under a scenario recommended by the finance committee of the Watertown Common Council.  Bielinski Homes, Inc., has offered to build a new fire station on property it owns at the corner of West Road and Horseshoe Road.  That is the edge of a large residential development Bielinski is undertaking, and a fire station there would dramatically improve response times when compared to the current station in the municipal building, according to Mayor John David.  Bielinski’s offer is to construct the new station at an approximate cost of $750,000.  The building would then be turned over to the city which would be responsible for maintenance and operational costs.   WDT


07 01       JERRY HEPP honorary parade marshal

Jerry Hepp will be the honorary fire chief for the city of Watertown during this year’s Fourth of July parade on Sunday.  He will be riding in Watertown Fire Department car # one during the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Water and West Main streets.  Units will travel down Main Street and conclude at Riverside Park.  Hepp is the first person to receive the new annual title because he was the top bidder in an auction for the aerial platform truck fund-raiser held at Badgerland Park in September.   WDT


07 07       SECOND FIRE STATION, West Side, on hold

A second fire station on Watertown’s west side is on hold after the Watertown Common Council voted not to make a decision on accepting a donation of land and a building.  The council voted 6-3 to postpone any decision indefinitely, after assurances that the donor, Bielinski Bros., will leave the door open on the offer for at least a couple years.  Bielinski Bros. is the developer of a large residential subdivision on the city’s west side.  The land offered is located at the corner of West Street and Horseshoe Road, at the western edge of the city limits.   WDT


07 28       BUSIEST DAY

The Watertown Fire Department experienced its busiest day ever on Friday, according to Fire Chief Henry Butts.  Emergency personnel responded to 17 calls in a 24-hour period, Butts said.  The previous record was 15 calls in a 24-hour period set on Aug. 29, 2002.  Calls to the fire department have been increasing steadily, Butts said.  “But one thing to take note is that the record was beat in less than two years,” he added.  Fire department personnel responded to one fire alarm, three hazardous material incidents, two car accidents, an inter-facility run and the rest of the calls were for paramedic assistance.  WDT


08 06       POPPERS BAR FIRE

The building that houses Poppers Bar and several apartments at 700 N. Fourth St. was heavily damaged Sunday in a fire that occurred at about 8:25 p.m.  Watertown Fire Chief Henry Butts told the Daily Times that the fire was likely caused by careless use of smoking materials in an upper apartment.  Butts said investigators discovered that the fire started in a chair in an upstairs dwelling and spread from there.  The bar was closed and no one was in the building at the time of the fire.  No injuries were reported.  Damage was estimated at $100,000 to the building owned by Ron Ziwisky.   WDT



The Watertown Aerial Truck Fund Raising Committee has completed the first group of fund-raising efforts and has collected $84,085.92 toward the project.  Those who participated in the presenting the city with a check included fire Chief Henry Butts, Mayor John David and committee members Jim Bird, Mike Rollert,  Dennis Vanden Heuvel and Bill Neubauer.   WDT



04 07       NEW FIRE ENGINE 1, a 2004 E-One Typhoon Pumper

Residents of the area will see a brand new fire Engine 1 when the Watertown Fire Department sounds the sirens as they go to emergency situations.  The new engine, a 2004 E-One Typhoon Pumper, can carry up to 1,000 gallons of water and can pump it out at a rate of 350 gallons per minute. Fire Chief Henry Butts said the new pumper will be the first truck out of the garage on the majority of emergency responses, and it will replace the former Engine 3, which is a 1972 Pirsch engine.   WDT





The incident became the largest coordinated response in Wisconsin history




A front-end loader started a fire at Watertown Tire Recyclers that could be seen for several miles and the amount of smoke created was so big it was captured by a satellite camera.  The fire started when shredded tires got into the engine compartment of a front-end loader. According to a state fire marshal report, the tire debris was piled in such a manner that ventilation and cooling of the shredded material was not complete.  Hot and humid conditions the week prior to the fire also contributed to the heat in the tire pile.


Pictures of the black smoke that filled the air above the recycling firm located in the Dodge County town of Shields were published worldwide.


The Watertown Fire Department, along with 107 others from around the state, responded to the fire between July 19-24, 2005.  The fire was extinguished using a special suppressant agent.  A bill of more than $1 million for fighting the fire was generated by the Dodge County Local Emergency Planning Committee and submitted to the firm, its owner Thomas Springer and his insurance carrier.


Before the fire occurred, neighbors of the recycling firm at W7910 Provimi Road had formed a group called Citizens for a Safe Environment with a goal of shutting down the business.  The group had sought noncompliance action from the county alleging the business was not meeting the permit requirements.  In fact, a representative from the state Department of Natural Resources was at the business talking with the owner when the fire broke out.



The massive fire occurring at the Watertown Tire Recyclers, LLC on the morning of Tuesday, July 19, 2005 in the town of Shields, at the intersection of Provimi and Rich roads, northwest of the city, was hard to miss at the time and will be long remembered. 


This fire would become The Really Big One in the 150 year history of the Watertown Fire Department.


It took crews five days to extinguish the fire.  The incident became the largest coordinated response in Wisconsin history.


           920       Firefighters who fought the fire

           106       Fire departments involved

                  10      Counties participating in the combined effort


                  11      Engines at the scene plus

                     8     Aerials and

            107     Tankers


            1,310     Man hours at the scene by Watertown Fire Department personnel


            2,600     Miles traveled by WFD Tankers 7 and Tanker 8 making

                325     Trips transporting water to scene


10,500,000     Gallons of water transported and used

            2,200    Gallons F500 suppression agent used


                     5      Days duration

                   35     Number of other calls received during the 5 days


       162,000     Cost in dollars to Watertown Fire Department

       120,000     Reimbursement in dollars received by WFD



Watertown Tire Recyclers operated on 12 acres of land and the facility contained three buildings and over one million tires stored in piles.


Billowing black smoke rising from the mounds of tire to more than 100 feet in the air could be seen from almost every street corner in Watertown, in the cities of Jefferson and Oconomowoc and points beyond.  The plume of smoke eventually reached over the western shore of Lake Michigan, more than 50 miles distant.


Fire department trucks, equipment and firefighters from surrounding communities, near and distant, arrived at the scene when the fire first broke out or during the days of it continuing to burn. 


Fire Chief Butts requested an “all-call page” that recalled two off-duty shifts of firefighters and 25 paid-on-call firefighters.  Butts struck seven alarms in rapid succession. Included in this were mutual aid tankers from Clyman, Ixonia, Johnson Creek, Lake Mills, Lebanon, Lowell, Reeseville and Waterloo; engines from Clyman, Lebanon, Lowell and Reeseville; and aerial ladders from Juneau and Waterloo.


A unified command post was established a half-mile east of the incident.  A Dodge County Emergency Government mobile command post was used as the operations center.


Representatives from the Watertown Fire Department, Watertown Police Department, Wisconsin State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and Dodge County Sheriff's Department and health officials from the City of Watertown, Jefferson County and Dodge County were all present.


The DNR declared the fire a “Hazardous Substance Incident.”  Coincidentally, a DNR officer was conducting an inspection of the business at the time that the fire broke out.


Watertown street department crews were called in with front end loaders to move tires and create passageways.  A Bobcat moved propane tanks out of the vicinity of the fire.


Tanker trucks filled and refilled at a city fire hydrant in the parking lot of the Blain’s Farm & Fleet store (1400 West Main Street) and hauled water 2-1/2 miles to the scene of the blaze.  This was one of four tanker filling sites established.  Soon a convey was in place so to replenish holding tanks set up at the burning recycling business and, having done so, returned to the source for more. 


Watertown command officers were rotated each period so that a Watertown chief officer was always in command at the scene.  Shift rotation of personnel and equipment con-tinued with some departments rotating only manpower, leaving their apparatus in position and for other departments to use in their absence.


A fire suppression agent known as F500, which is similar to "wet water" was proposed to suppress the fire.


Assistant Fire Chief Michael Quint contacted a representative of the company that manu-factures the agent to obtain the details on its use, environmental impact and cost.


It was determined that the agent could be delivered to the incident the following day.


The company was asked to ship 480 five-gallon containers of the agent to the scene. Arrangements were made with the Wisconsin State Police to escort the tractor-trailer from the Illinois-Wisconsin border to the scene.


On Thursday, July 21, efforts continued to contain the fire until the suppression agent arrived at 6 p.m. The agent was dumped into the water holding tanks and then applied with conventional nozzles on handlines and master streams.  At 6:30 p.m., application of the agent began and continued throughout the night.


During the late evening and early Friday morning hours, dense fog set in.  Tanker operators were unable to see the edges of the highway during their more than two mile drive to continue water supply operations.  Watertown Assistant Fire Chief Neal Zinda asked the command post to contact the Dodge County Highway Department to supply highway cones every 150 feet so that the tanker operators could see the roadway. With the cones in place, the water shuttle operations continued throughout the night.


By Friday morning, July 22, the results could be seen and the fire was being extinguished.


Quint tapped the fire out on Sunday, July 24, at 1024 hours, five days after the initial alarm.


Firefighters operated 11 engines, eight aerials and 107 tankers at the scene during the operation. Other equipment that responded included a heavy rescue and two ambulances.


Over 10.5 million gallons of water was used to extinguish the fire, all of which was transported to the scene by the tanker shuttle operations.


The water used for firefighting operations dropped the Watertown municipal water storage system by nine feet. It took 10 days to replenish the water supply.  Some 2,200 gallons of F500 suppression agent was also used.


The Watertown Fire Department lost $20,000 worth of equipment fighting the fire. One thousand feet of 1-3/4-inch hose, 1,000 feet of 5-inch supply line and 2,000 feet of 2-1/2-inch hose was destroyed by being punctured by the pieces of wire that had been cut out of the tires.


Forty-three portable radio batteries, 12 pairs of gloves, 10 pairs of boots, several nozzles and hand tools were also destroyed.


Watertown Engines 3 and 4 were stripped of equipment to make Engines 1 and 2 fully equipped to be able to respond to alarms. It took several weeks to get the other two engines back in service.


Watertown Fire Department personnel spent 1,310 man hours at the scene. Watertown Tankers 7 and 8 each traveled 1,300 miles, making 325 trips hauling water to the scene.


Twice during the incident, on July 21 and July 23, severe weather passed through the area. Incident commanders were notified of the approaching weather and shut down all operations.  The aerial devices were taken down and all water flow was stopped. This let all firefighters find cover under apparatus, in ditches and elsewhere until the tornado and thunderstorm warnings were lifted.


The owner of Watertown Tire Recyclers, Tom Springer, had been the subject of criticism over time by area residents, who had formed a group called Citizens for a Safer Environment, in the attempt to either shut the place down or require it to be in full compliance with operating rules established by the county. 


The deadline for compliance had been July 1st and the drafting of non-compliance docu-ments was in progress at the time of the fire.


The fire was caused by shredded tires getting into the engine compartment of an end loader, according to a report released by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.  The tire debris had been piled was piled in such a manner that ventilation and cooling of the shredded material was not complete.  The heat could not escape and in due course a smolder heap (it only takes one) of tire shreds ignited and the fire soon spread throughout the maze of countless piled tires.


Almost a year after the fire Watertown Tire Recyclers LLC agreed to pay $320,000 in penalties and costs for allegations it had violated environmental laws.


The settlement resolved claims by the State of Wisconsin, Citizens for a Safe Environ-ment, the town of Shields, the City of Watertown, Dodge County and 94 other entities that responded to a fire at the facility.


According to the Department of Justice's complaint, prior to the fire, Watertown Tire Recyclers allegedly exceeded its allowed volume of tires, failed to maintain adequate fire lanes, stored tires improperly, and failed to submit required reports and to notify the Department of Natural Resources of problems and changes.


The settlement provided for payment of $267,893.21 to the local responders, $31,000 to the DNR for its fire response costs, and $21,106.79 to the state in forfeitures and surcharges.  It also called for the removal of all contaminated soil remaining at the site and also included stipulations that the tire collection and transportation business at the site would cease by 2010.


Municipalities did not recover the total amount of money spent on the fire fighting opera-tions.  In Wisconsin, when the State Attorney General sues, all money received goes into the state education fund. Watertown received only a $120,000 reimbursement for the $162,000 cost of fighting the fire.


Watertown Daily Times photo     WHS_006_243



07 24 FIRE

Fire Extensively Damages St. Paul’s Episcopal






Firefighters use ladder trucks to spray the roof and attic areas of St. Paul's Episcopal church with thousands of gallons of water in an effort to knock down flames and halt progress of the blaze early Sunday morning (WHS_005_228)


Lightning struck St. Paul's Episcopal church during a severe late afternoon thunderstorm on Saturday, July 23.  Fire erupted in the early hours of the next day, Sunday morning.  The beautiful church, located at the intersection of Second and Spring streets, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The fire started when the roof was struck by a lightning bolt, smoldering until 10:30 in the evening, when it spread from the roof to the steeple.  Neighbors feared that some structure in the area had been hit because of the severity of the lighting strike but police were not able to find any such evidence upon investigating the concerns called in to the department.




   Video clip       


08 26       FEMA GRANT

The Watertown Fire Department has received a $132,300 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.  According to fire Chief Henry Butts, the funds will be used to purchase 44 self-contained breathing apparatuses and 99 oxygen bottles from Bendlin Fire Equipment of Butler.  The units, which comply with modern standards of the National Fire Protection Association, are compatible with the department’s current tanks so firefighters will still be able to use the 70 oxygen bottles they hold.   WDT



One person was injured after a fire broke out at Watertown Metal Products, 1141 S. Tenth St.  A female employee was treated and transported to Watertown Memorial Hospital by the Watertown Fire Department after showing symptoms of heat inhalation.  The Watertown Fire Department received a call at 8:06 p.m. that a fire had broken out near the north end of the building.  All employees were evacuated while the firefighters fought the blaze, which was burning inside an approximately 20-foot air filter machine.



01 04       2005 BUSIEST YEAR EVER

The Watertown Fire Department had its busiest year ever in 2005 and for the second consecutive year responded to over 2,000 emergency calls.  According to Watertown Fire Chief Henry Butts, city firefighters in 2005 logged 2,134 emergency calls, which is 116 more than the 2,018 recorded in 2004.  That is an increase of about 6 percent.  Among the 2,134 calls, the fire department responded to 278 fire calls, with 55 of them being actual fires.  Out of those 55 fire calls, 28 were for structure fires.  Of the structure fires, 19 were located in the city, five were in rural contract areas and the other four were responded to as mutual aid.


                City reaches deal on fire contracts with townships, Doc WHS_005_549


12 21       2005 BUSIEST YEAR EVER

After months of negotiations it appears the city and surrounding townships have agreed on a formula that will determine the costs for future contracts for fire and emergency medical services. Watertown Mayor John David told Finance Committee members Thursday he was sending out the 2007 contracts for fire and EMS services to the surrounding townships that afternoon and he expected them to be signed by the proper officials.  Neale Jones, chairman for the town of Shields, said this morning the contracts still need to be approved by the appropriate committees but he believes they will eventually be signed.  The formula used on the 2007 contract would charge the residents in the townships of Emmet, Milford, Shields and Watertown in the city's service areas the same rate that citizens in Watertown pay for these services.  Watertown and the township residents will pay 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for fire and EMS services in 2007.



03 04       CRACKING FLOOR

The Watertown Common Council in closed session Thursday night decided to repair the cracking floor of the fire department garage with a carbon fiber reinforced fiberglass system. Watertown Mayor John David said today the council members awarded the contract to Maas Brothers in Watertown for about $387,000. Council members had also considered filling the basement below the floor with a structured grid of steel beams, but David said the carbon fiber reinforced fiberglass system was more favorable because it will give more strength to the floor in addition to keeping the basement fully accessible.   WDT



One of Watertown’s most popular summertime events, Lights ‘n Sirens, will be held at Riverside Park on Thursday, July 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.  Planning is under way for the eighth annual community safety fair.  This is a good opportunity for both children and adults to get “up close and personal” with local safety professionals.  The event is intended to promote injury prevention through education and provides the community the chance to meet with public safety personnel in a relaxed setting.  The event is sponsored by Watertown Area Health Services, Watertown Family Center, Watertown Police Department and Watertown Fire Department.   WDT



Watertown residents can begin to feel a little safer starting in May.  According to fire Chief Henry Butts, the Watertown Fire Department’s new aerial platform ladder truck will go into service on May 1.  Butts said the main advantage of the new unit is it will improve the fire department’s efficiency and the firefighters’ ability to work safely when aerial truck operations are needed.  The fire department’s current ladder truck was purchased in 1980 and because the company that built the vehicle is no longer in service, it is hard to obtain parts when it breaks down.   WDT



The Watertown Fire Department had the opportunity to use its new aerial ladder truck Monday when Lebanon firefighters sought mutual aid for a church fire.  Minimal fire damage was reported to Immanuel Lutheran Church at N572 County Highway R, according to Lebanon Fire Chief Brent Boyd.  A motorist driving by the century old church at about 3:30 p.m. Monday noticed flames and smoke from the top of the south tower near the cross.  “When we got the call for flames on the top of the church steeple near the cross, we requested a third alarm at that location when we left the station,” Boyd said.  Watertown and Ixonia fire departments responded to the scene, he said.   WDT


05 31       1301 S. FIFTH ST. FIRE

Two Alarm Warehouse Fire


07 21       TIRE FIRE SETTLEMENT up to date on second anniversary of fire

A hearing in Dodge County Circuit Court was canceled this week as the city of Watertown received a check for $36,000 as part of a settlement with Watertown Tire Recyclers, Inc.  The check, which was two months late, came during the week of the two-year anniversary of the tire fire at the recycling firm just northwest of Watertown.  The hearing was canceled when attorneys for Watertown Tire Recyclers withdrew a motion to reopen the judgment. According to attorney Vicki Zick of Johnson Creek, all payments have been made to date and there have been no changes to the settlement.  The city of Watertown received its check Tuesday, according to city Clerk Mike Hoppenrath.   WHS_005_550   


07 27       PERSONNEL

Listing of all fire department personnel


08 07       116 W MAIN FIRE

Above Rico’s Pizza  


---           PHOENIX FIRE BELL enshrined once again

In 2007 this writer was of the mind to take a photo of  the 1876 U.S. Centennial Bell of the Phoenix Engine House he remembered as being nicely displayed on the grounds of today’s City Hall, on the west side of the fire station, near the bank of the Rock River.  Alas, it was not to be found.  Most everyone could remember it and most of those folks thought it was still there.  In due course it was learned that the historic bell and its granite base was removed by the Street Department about eight years ago and was “hidden” at the back of a storage shed out by the airport.   On behalf of the Watertown Historical Society a plea was made to return the bell to the place it belongs, near the fire station.  So on the 150th anniversary of the Watertown Fire Department, the bell on its granite base was enshrined once again and is certain to be an attraction for those passing by or visiting the fire house.

       Image Portfolio 


08 12       Book on 150-year history of the Watertown Fire Dept released.


09 08       Controlled burn, training event


10 12       Keith Knollenberg hired as full-time firefighter/paramedic


11 12        Watertown Head Start visited to promote fire safety.



01 02       Perry Street apartment building totally destroyed by fire by a mattress fire     [WHS_005_555]


01 07       FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE BLAZE AT BETHESDA.  Watertown firefighters battled a blaze today outside of a day services building at Bethesda Lutheran Homes and Services Inc. that was caused by a damaged gas line.  The Watertown Fire Department received the call for the fire at the Bethesda building, 761 Milford St., today at 6:42 a.m.  Firefighters had the blaze under control at 6:55 a.m. and completely out at 7:14 a.m.  The fire occurred outside of the building and was caused by a cracked valve on a gas line.  Fire started when the gas came in contact with an ignition source in an air handling unit.  The building sustained minor smoke damage.   WDT


02 01       ASSISTANCE TO FIREFIGHTERS GRANT.  The Watertown Fire Department has received a 2007 Assistance to Firefighters Grant of approximately $33,000.  In June 2007, Sen. Russ Feingold sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Domestic Preparedness to support the fire department’s application for the grant.  The grant is provided by the U.S. Fire Administration to support training, wellness and fitness, fire-fighting equipment, personal protective equipment and modifications to fire stations and facilities.   WDT


02 28       Brad Fox joins dept as firefighter/paramedic



   Link to article 


03 29       316 SUMMIT AVE HOUSE FIRE

Vacant home at 316 Summit Ave., owned by Mae Snell-Lynch Gloede, was declared a total loss.  When firefighters arrived at the scene 75 percent of the home was engulfed in flames.  While battling the blaze, firefighters also had the task of keeping the flames from spreading to an adjacent building and a number of cars parked near the home.  Twenty-three firefighters from fire departments in Watertown and Ixonia battled blaze.  No injuries reported.  WDT story


  Image Portfolio      


04 25       North Washington St duplex fire caused by lightning


05            REPORT:  Planning for the effective use of rapid intervention crews for the Watertown Fire Dept; Michael H Quint, author


05 07       Mike Meyers recognized by City Council for 40 years of service    WDT, includes pic


05 07       Watertown aerial ladder provided mutual aid, Lake Mills apartment bldg    WDT story


05 07       Fire in town of Shields destroyed a two-story home and some records of the town board.  WDT


05 21       419 S. Washington St. resident awoken and notified of blaze by his dog   WDT


05 21       Mason Pugh new firefighter/paramedic, replaces Ray Tessmann.   WDT


07 07       Bottle rocket likely cause of fire, 216 N Church [ former Kusel Home ].   WDT


07 07       Lights ‘n Sirens safety fair held at Riverside Park.  [no link] WDT


07 08       City teen, Ben Richter, killed by lightning     WDT story      Local teen killed by lightning remembered   WDT story


07 08       Permit issued in June to install walls for lockers.   WDT


07 16       Department Commemorates 150 Years - Elk’s Club gathering


07 21       Four-unit apartment complex fire,  800 block Clark St; about $35,000 in damages   WDT


07 26       Husband, wife injured in plane crash at Watertown airport; Plane tumbled into hangar, then caught fire


00 08       Muscular Dystrophy Assn collection by firefighters


08 18       Common Council resolution denying request from firefighter looking for the city to pay a supplemental income   WDT


08 20       Department opposes Heron Landing subdivision due to length of response times   WDT



Biefeld Promoted to City Assistant Fire Chief

Watertown Daily Times, 09 02 2008



Kraig Biefeld has been promoted to assistant fire chief and director of Emergency Medical Services at the Watertown Fire Department.


Biefeld replaces former assistant fire chief Neal Zinda.


Biefeld started his career in fire service in June of 1993 with the city of Watertown as a paid-on-call firefighter.  During that time he went to school and received his paramedic license through Gateway Technical College in 1997.


He started working as a firefighter/paramedic with the city of Kaukauna in April of 2000 and accepted the same position with the Watertown Fire Department two years later.


Biefeld has an associate’s degree in Fire Protection and holds a Wisconsin Paramedic license I.  He is also certified as a firefighter Level I& Level II, motor pump operator-pumper, motor pump operator-aerial, fire officer, fire instructor, fire inspector and a hazardous materials technician. 


Biefeld, who is a CPR instructor, has attended classes at the National Fire Academy.  He has also been a member of the Multiple Dwelling Code Council since 2005, which is a governor-appointed position.


Biefeld has been married for 18 years to his wife Christine.  They have two children: Lynsey, 17, and Kirsten, 10.  The Biefelds also do foster care for children.


“I look forward to the opportunity to serve the Watertown Fire Department as assistant fire chief and director of Emergency Medical Services,” Biefeld said.


10 13       Fire damages detached garage on Division St    WDT


10 14       10-year-old helps family avert tragedy, Cole St    WDT


10 20       Villages of Lowell and Reeseville, EMS contracts for 2009.    WDT



Watertown Fire Chief Henry Butts Monday talked about the current role of the city’s fire department during the seventh annual state of the community luncheon sponsored by the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce.  The entire area the fire department supplies services to is approximately 101 square miles, Butts added.  “We have quite a large area to take care of and with that comes a lot of calls,” Butts said, while adding that the fire department responded to 2,083 calls in 2007 and just over 1,800 so far in 2008.


10 28       Fire Chief Butts talk about current role of the fire department    WDT


10 29       MCDONALD'S IS TOTAL LOSS.  First use of Mutual Aid Box Alarm System  

McDonald's, 625 S. Church St., was declared a total loss after a two-alarm fire burned through the roof of the restaurant.  The Watertown Police Department has determined from information provided by witnesses and fire personnel that the fire was caused by a malfunctioning piece of heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment on the roof of the building.


The Watertown Fire Department received a call for the structure fire Tuesday at 6:11 p.m. and when firefighters first arrived at the scene heavy smoke was pouring out of the roof on the east side of the building near the drive-through. A second alarm brought firefighters from Ixonia, Johnson Creek, Jefferson and Lebanon.  A total of 52 firefighters had the blaze under control in 2 hours and 10 minutes and had it extinguished in 3 hours and 14 minutes. The last group of firefighters left the scene at 9:47 p.m.  It took firefighters more than three hours and 82,500 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.


For the first time since it was implemented on Sept. 1, the Watertown Fire Department used the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System and Watertown fire Chief Henry Butts said he could not have been more pleased with the results.  The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System is a coordinated effort that helps reduce the amount of time it takes to get needed equipment to the scene of an emergency.


“Instead of having to tell the dispatchers call this fire department and ask for this, call this fire department and ask for that and call this fire department and ask for that, all I had to do was say call Dodge and Jefferson County and strike the second alarm for a fire at this address and it was done,” Butts said.


A McDonald's employee was injured and taken to Watertown Medical Regional Center, but the injury was not directly related to the fire.  The person had a medical condition which was exasperated by the fire.  No firefighters were injured.


City assessor Tom Brandt said the McDonald's building was valued at approximately $630,000. The equipment inside the structure was estimated at about $146,000.  According to the city's Building, Safety and Zoning office, the first building permit issued to McDonald's was in April of 1975.  The owner of the building was Franchise Realty Interstate Corp. of Waukesha.    Watertown Daily Times, 10 29 2008 & Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 10 29 2008




11 13       Bill Adams hired by department   WDT


11 14       Tanya Manke hired by department   WDT


11 15       Rock River Pizza Co. and River City Distributing Co.; a fund-raiser for the Watertown Fire Department   WDT


12 18       Watertown Food Pantry donation; drive sponsored by the Watertown Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 877    WDT


12 26       A garage in the Town of Watertown and its contents were declared a total loss    WDT



02 06       Fire Department Auxiliary Schedule, several firefighters exceeding 600 hours per year    WDT


02 17       Fire Department rates for area towns set by Common Council    WDT


04 03       Lifestar Emergency Medical EMS considers Watertown; EMS rates    WDT


06 25       Lifepak 12 cardiac defibrillator; Review of paid-on-call firefighters to augment fire services    WDT


06 29       Earl Nienow, 1930-2009, firefighter for 29 years, retired in 1986 as lieutenant    WDT


07 08       Breast cancer awareness and research, members be wearing pink T-shirts to support   WDT


08 22       Combustible gas detector donated; Chickens Unlimited    WDT


09 15       Rich Nienow honored, 30 years as auxiliary firefighter    WDT


09 29       Fire Prevention Week; open house; teaming with the Natl Fire Protection Assn; “Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned”    WDT


09 30       Fire Department visit to Public Library at story time; Great Expectations Early Learning Center   WDT


12 14       Rural fire rate hike on agenda   WDT



01 25       Ice training exercise, members of department take part, on Rock River, near station   WDT [pic]


02 03       Residents honored for rescues during May 2009 house fire, John Jeffery and Kyle West   WDT [pic]


02 10       Town of Watertown residence declared a total loss [$350,000, structure and contents]   WDT [pics]


03 27       213 S. Seventh St.  $100,000 damage to home.  Primary fire hydrant malfunctioned; Second engine connected to another hydrant, pumping water to first engine.   WDT [pics]


04 14       $1,000 donation from Golden Living for continued enhancement of services   WDT [pic]


04 14       Fire at 1307 South Third   WDT


07 06       11th annual Lights 'n Sirens event returns to Watertown July 8 at Riverside Park   WDT


07 29       Muscular Dystrophy Association; Firefighters will remove their boots to collect money for   WDT


10 08       Students from Germany visit Department



Several Watertown firefighters were presented with lifesaving medals during Tuesday’s common council meeting for helping revive Becky Schroeder, who on April 1 was found unresponsive and without a pulse.  AwardED were firefighter Brad Fox, firefighter Chad Butler, firefighter Ken Riggs, firefighter Greg Wellach, firefighter Brad Hering and acting fire Chief Kraig Biefeld.   WDT



Assistant Fire Chief Michael Quint complaint against the city, former fire Chief Henry Butts and Mayor Ron Krueger.

      Watertown fire department in turmoil after claims, suicide    WSJour article    



02 11       RIVER BEND RD FIRE

Portfolio of 18 images  


02 20       TEST AMERICA LABORATORIES destroyed by fire.




Editor, Daily Times:


The Watertown Kiwanis recently had a meeting honoring the volunteers who help to restore The Survive Alive House.  The house was built by Kiwanis about 16 years ago, along with the gracious Capt. Ken Peterson who was working at the Watertown Fire Department at that time and Dawn McBride who at that time was a Kiwanian.  They took hold of this project along with the Watertown Kiwanis to make this dream come true.  The materials were mostly donated by the local business to keep the cost within reason.  We all worked very hard on this project.  We had a lot of fun, story telling (doughnuts) and jokes while we worked.


The restoring of the house is now completed with the help of Ken Peterson, Deputy Chief Ralph Wandersee, material and time from John Toma from Toma Construction, Chuck Volrath redid the pay phone system, Jim Zuern with materials from Zuern Lumber and Steve Lehman for the new stove from Felton Electric.


The house will soon be at schools, gatherings, fairs, etc., to teach the children how to get out of a house in case of fire.  The house is completed with smoke added to detect a fire in progress so the children learn to keep low and get out quickly.  When you see this house out and about be sure to let the children go through as we have heard good results from the teaching of this Survive Alive House saved lives.


Many thanks to all.

Watertown Kiwanis

Edna DeWitt, Secretary


03 23       Steven Beer, Asst Chief of Operations, Fond du Lac Fire Dept, to be new chief of the Watertown Fire Department.


04 01       Steven Beer declines appointment



The Watertown Police and Fire Commission will be looking for outside assistance in selecting a new fire chief.  The commission decided on Monday to invite representatives from Voorhees Associates and Springsted to attend Wednesday’s meeting to explain their companies’ hiring practices.  Commission members have asked the two businesses to provide these services free of charge.


The police and fire commission had originally offered the open fire chief position to Steven Beer, but the assistant chief of operations for the Fond du Lac Fire Department declined to take the job about two weeks ago.  Beer informed the police and fire commission that he wasn't going to accept the position because of the recent police shooting in Fond du Lac that killed one officer and wounded another. He felt that walking away from his current job at this time would not be appropriate for the city of Fond du Lac and the department.


The police and fire commission originally received 17 applications for the fire chief position. That list was pared down to seven after commission members studied all of the submitted resumes. Those seven applicants were then asked to complete an essay in which each person was to outline his or her leadership skills, abilities and other attributes each could bring to the department.  From that list, five finalists were selected for face-to-face interviews. The commission had selected Beer out of that group.


The fire chief position has been open since Nov. 30, 2010, when former Chief Henry Butts resigned amid an internal investigation of the department.  Assistant Chief Kraig Biefeld was named acting chief upon Butts’ departure and will continue to serve that position until a new chief is on board.


05 26       FIREFIGHTERS FROM GUATEMALA VISITED; Hearts in Motion project



     N. First St. parking lot; WI Propane Education and Research Council, sponsor.





Michalek succeeds former fire chief Henry Butts, who resigned on Nov. 30, 2010, amid an internal investigation of the fire department.  Assistant fire Chief Kraig Biefeld had been serving as acting fire chief between Butts’ resignation and Michalek’s first day on the job.  Michalek, who holds a bachelor's degree from Western Illinois University, was most recently the fire chief of Bay City, Mich. He had served that position since 2009. He started working as a paid on-call firefighter for the fire department in La Grange, 111., in 1974 and was promoted to captain in 2001. He stayed with the La Grange Fire Department until he started his tenure with the Bay City Fire Department in 2009.


The police and fire commission in March of this year had originally picked Steven Beer, the assistant chief of operations for the Fond du Lac Fire Department, to be Watertown's fire chief, but he declined the job.  Beer informed the police and fire commission that he wasn't going to accept the position because of the police shooting in Fond du Lac that killed one officer and wounded another. He felt that walking away from his current job would not be appropriate for the city of Fond du Lac and the department.


09 22       DEPARTMENT NO LONGER ENDORSING businesses, residents or organizations.  In the past allowed solicitation on its behalf for public education materials.


11 15       CHIEF KRAIG BIEFELD presented the distinguished fire service award and plaque by the Watertown Police and Fire Commission in recognition of his service as interim fire chief from November 2010 to August.  The award says Biefeld's inspirational leadership contributed to and had a positive impact on the morale and well-being of the Watertown Fire Department.


12 21       Butts charged with theft.  Did not reimburse the city for airfare purchases made with the city’s credit card.



04 13       605 South Second St fire



The Watertown Citizen Police Academy Alumni is holding its first Guns N’ Hoses Watertown event to raise money for the police and fire departments.  The money raised will be divided equally between both departments for items on their wish list and an amount to be determined to go to the CPAA to help defray the cost of the event.  The event will be called “Guns N’ Hoses of Watertown WI Kiss the Pig Contest.” The contestants will be Watertown Alderman John Coughlin, police officer Marcie Repta and Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Wandersee.  The winner of the contest, the one who raises the most money in their name, will kiss a pig at the annual Lights ‘n Sirens event held at Riverside Park on July 12.


06 01       MATT PIEPER

Newest full-time firefighter/paramedic.  From Hustisford, worked as an on-call firefighter for 8 years before being hired full time at the beginning of May.


07 18       Life Safety Awards

The Watertown Common Council recognized five members of the Watertown Fire Department with life safety awards for saving the life of Gordon Hensler, of Watertown, in September 2011.  Firefighters Todd Christian, Chad Butler, Brad Hering, Brad Fox and William Adams responded to an emergency call for a man having a heart attack and when the firefighters arrived on scene Hensler was unresponsive with no pulse and not breathing . . . “I truly want to thank all of the personnel for their great service,” Hensler said. “I was revived twice.”   WDT article   


08 11       Training Session at Rhine Rd and Prospect St.

The Watertown Fire Department conducted a training session on a house off of Rhine Road, lighting several controlled fires inside the home and having firefighters put them out, also training on search and rescue missions inside the burning home.  At the end of the training the house was completely ablaze and allowed to burn down.   WDT

> > Link to portfolio of pics  [156 image set; view individually or as a slide show]   [full reference is digital folder WFD WHS 006]

> > Link to video clip    [4:43 minutes]  /  [full video, 46:34 minutes] 


09 04       2012 collective bargaining agreement.  Watertown Common Council will vote on.  Contract has already been approved by the Local 877 firefighters union and recommended by the finance committee.  Department agreed to a wage freeze for 2012 and said the contract continues most of the same conditions the firefighters had already been working under.  Expected to pass.

09 04       Chickens Unlimited donated $2,000 for the department’s new training center located near the Watertown Municipal Airport.  WDT



09 05       W7889 Provimi Road

Watertown firefighters responded on 09/04 at 9:43 p.m. to W7889 Provimi Road in Emmet after a lightning strike set a detached garage on fire.  The garage was a total a loss; the damage to be around $15,000.  WDT


09 10       103 ½ College St. Duplex.  9:11 p.m. a neighbor saw flickering lights and smoke coming out of a window.  Fire caused by a malfunctioning box fan.  The fire caused between $500-$1,000 in damage, mostly due to the smoke.     Link to portfolio of pics


09 19       Farmington Marsh Fire.  Fire and 35 mph. winds combined on September 19th to create a situation in which firefighters from throughout Jefferson County were forced to scramble to control a potentially disastrous situation in the marsh of the lowland valley west of N7153 Switzke Road in the town of Farmington.  The flames headed north and northeast as fast as the winds could carry them. North of the marsh were cornfields and beyond that, rural homes. The fire started when the property owners were burning vegetation along fence rows earlier in the day.  ATVs got behind the flames and got the fire out.”  About 60 acres of marsh and lowland were burned. Seven additional departments were called to the blaze, including Lake Mills, Ixonia, Waterloo, Helenville, Sullivan, Watertown and Jefferson.  Upon request, area farmers Dane Hartwig, Steve Shluter and Lloyd Holterman came in with large tractors and disk harrows to help dig up areas of vegetation and turn over soil.  A bulldozer from Weis Excavating of Johnson Creek also helped slice a fire break across the land downwind from the fire.


10 03       Settlement with former Asst Chief Michael Quint

The Watertown Common Council unanimously approved a settlement with former Assistant Fire Chief Michael Quint for $45,000 over a complaint Quint had filed in December 2010 against the city, former fire Chief Henry Butts and Mayor Ron Krueger.  Quint had alleged Butts sent hateful letters to various fire departments that were considering Quint for vacant fire chief positions after Quint and Butts signed a settlement in January of 2010 in which Quint voluntarily agreed to resign from the fire department.  Quint received nearly $60,000 in severance payments as part of the settlement.  Previously, in 2009, Quint filed a complaint against Butts alleging serious misconduct on Butt’s part.


As a condition of the first settlement, the city and Butts agreed a letter of reference from the mayor would be the sole reference from the city for Quint’s records.  The settlement also included a provision that stated both Butts and Quint would seek to avoid negative public comments about the other for the good of all parties.  The original complaint filed in December of 2010 said both Butts and Quint understood there may be separate causes of action for making such statements.


Quint later accused Butts of breaching the agreement by sending hateful letters to various fire departments across the county which were considering hiring Quint.  Quint had used DNA evidence from envelopes and soda cans to show that Butts was the person sending the letters.  Butts voluntarily resigned from his position on Nov. 30, 2010, amid an internal investigation of the fire department.


Quint’s complaint against the city, seeking almost $800,000 in damages, was denied by the Common Council in April of 2011.  Quint responded by filing a civil suit against the city in June of 2011 in Jefferson County Court.


10 13       OPEN HOUSE    Link to portfolio of pics


10 22          Special ride to school  



12 04             Boughton St fire

Fire in second story bedroom of an apartment building at 1155 Boughton St, Unit 20; no injuries, but $20,000 in damage.  Firefighters found flames shooting out of a second floor window.  Bedroom was burnt out and other areas in the apartment were damaged by smoke and heat.  No injuries reported.   [image set CD_WHS_006 given to Fire Dept]   


12 08       WALTON ROAD FIRE [video clip] 

The Watertown Fire Department received a call of a barn fire at N111 Walton Road at 9:31 p.m.   The 40 feet by 50 feet barn was fully engulfed and burning rapidly when firefighters arrived on scene.  The barn was a complete loss and a home and several other buildings on the property were damaged by heat coming off the fire.  Investigators believe the fire was started by a torpedo heater being used in the barn.  14 Watertown firefighters responded to the fire and as well as several other area fire departments.  [image set CD_WHS_009 given to Fire Dept]

Before fire image    


12 11       NEW GRASS RIG 



-- --           RICHARD NIENOW




01 24       N9050 RIVER RD FIRE, [video clip].    Blaze in the basement knocked down in 10 mins.  Cause believed to be electrical.  $15,000-$20,000 damage.  Ixonia Fire Dept responded with mutual aid with engine, two tankers and manpower.


01 25       TOWN OF SHIELDS GARAGE FIRE, W9359 Garden Rd.  Fully engulfed and spread to nearby sheds.  Twelve departments responded.


01 31       BURLINGTON FIRE, Chief Michalek and engine company called upon to help battle.  Largest MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm Service) response in Wisconsin history. 



  Assistant Chief Chad Butzine is the first volunteer to rappel down the hose tower while other firefighters look on. The department is spending time in the classroom and also learning first-hand how to rappel, belay, tie knots, find anchor points and build teamwork in order to train for ice rescues and ascending people from confined, lower spaces.  Rope rescue training requires firefighters to wear helmets, gloves, harnesses and good shoes.   [Slideshow of WDTimes images]


02 02       CADY ST FIRE, 213 W, [video clip]  

   A propane heater and delayed notification of fire led to the total loss of a house.  Fourteen departments assisted at the scene.   [Slideshow of WDTimes images]


02 17       1068 BOUGHTON GARAGE FIRE.    Illegal wood burning stove with faulty installation, $5,000 damage.


02 28       Firefighters Local 877 presented a check for $810 to Watertown Regional Medical Center for the Friend to Friend program. 


02 28       Firefighters rescued a wayward Labrador retriever who had ventured out on the Rock River.  West 4400 block of Riverview Rd.

04 02         Firefighters rappel down a nearly 45-foot-deep rock quarry using ropes and anchor points.


04 23       109 N. TENTH ST.  Structural fire.



04 27       1911 GATEWAY DRIVE

Garage fire.    Owner tried to smoke squirrels out of garage and held the smoke bomb right up to the rafters, starting the fire.  Took about 5 minutes to knock down.


04 25       MOCK CRASH SCENE

    .Editor, Daily Times:  On behalf of the WHS Pledge of Excellence group, I would like to thank a number of people who were instrumental in presenting the Mock Crash Scene to the juniors and seniors on Thursday, April 25.  This event has been taking place every other year since 1997.  The first people on our list must be the fire department and EMS.  Assistant chief Kraig Biefeld took care of many of the details, while Lt. Layne Fohr, firefighters Brent Kurtz, Mason Taylor, Matt Pieper and Scott Umland were the men on the scene, showing the students what really happens at a car crash.  We cannot thank them enough . . . – Tammy Foerster and WHS Pledge of Excellence Group    WDT 05 02



  Dept. fields fire safety questions; equipment demo.



in collaboration with River City Distributing, recently participated in a Guinness Gives Back promotion to raise funds for the Watertown Fire Department.  A total of $500 from a percentage of beverage sales and an event to learn how to pour Guinness from tap was donated to the fire department, which will be used for training and equipment.  The bar, located at 715 W. Main St., opened in January.  Pictured back row, Joe Kwapil of River City Distributing, Lt. Layne Fohr, firefighter/EMT Brent Kurtz and firefighter/paramedic Matt Pieper.  Front, bartender Kristen Unser, co-owner Craig Savage, fire Chief Greg Michalek and Assistant Chief Kraig Biefeld.  Not pictured is co-owner Tom Evert.



      Started by a furnace vent pipe.  $10,000-$15,000 damage.  Frederick St, Portion of building location of Village Blacksmith  



The Watertown Finance Committee has approved shifting the responsibility of completing fire inspections for buildings in the city from the Building Safety and Zoning Departments to the Watertown Fire Department. 


“The number one reason was I’m responsible for all the fire inspections in the city by state law and a local ordinance and I had no authority over it,” Michalek said.  In addition to being responsible for conducting the inspections, Michalek said he wants to have six firefighters trained to complete the inspections by the middle of July. Currently the inspections are completed by Building Safety and Zoning Department Inspector Doug Zwieg.  Michalek added he would like to continue to use Zwieg as well as the firefighters to conduct the inspections.  “The firefighters already go out and do a pre-planning visit to every commercial building in the city, so they could complete the fire inspections at the same time.”  He added the inspections would also help firefighters become familiar with the buildings.


The city needs to complete approximately 918 fire inspections a year, with some 400 to 500 of those buildings require re-inspections every year.  The fire department would also complete fire inspections in the townships of Emmet, Watertown, Milford and Shields.



    Electrical; Malfunctioning dishwasher


07 11       LIGHTS N SIRENS EVENT at Riverside Park


08 09       FIRE AT 544 MILFORD ST.

    The department responded to a fire that started in the living room of the house. Two teenage children were home and sleeping when the fire ignited. They were able to escape the home safely.  The flames were contained to the living room, but smoke damage was reported throughout the home.  There were also two cats, two dogs and a boa constrictor snake inside the home at the time of the fire. All the animals made it out of the home safely.  The Johnson Creek, Beaver Dam and Ixonia fire departments also responded to the scene.  Approximately $35,000 in damage.  WDT



Ramona Hackbarth plants a vegetable garden on the south side of town and shares the fruits of her labors with her neighbors and the firefighters at the municipal building.  Main Street bridge named for.


09 08       DETTMAN FARM FIRE, N7397 County N, Milford Township

   A farm building was deemed a total loss after an early morning fire just off of CTH N between I-94 and Grelton, the Tim Dettman farm N7397 County N.  The third major structure fire the Dettman farm operation has faced over the past decade.      WDTimes article 


09 29       501 N. FOURTH ST APARTMENT FIRE, Stacey's Bar

   The Watertown Fire Department responded at 2:02 a.m. for a report of a structure fire.  The back side of the building was fully engulfed with fire blowing out the back windows on the second floor when firefighters arrived on scene.  A 28-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly starting a fire in the apartments above Stacey's Bar that sent three people to the hospital.  Two people, one woman and one man, jumped from the second floor in the back of the building to escape the fire prior to firefighters arriving on scene.  The woman fell through the doors covering the steps leading into the basement of the bar and suffered an injury to her shoulder. The male who jumped suffered a broken leg.  Firefighters also rescued a male from an apartment in the front of the second floor.  The fire escalated to a third alarm with departments from Lake Mills, Clyman, Johnson Creek, Waterloo, Lebanon, Lake Mills EMS, Ixonia, Ryan Brothers, Juneau, Oconomowoc, Helenville, Sullivan, Jefferson, Reeseville, Rome and Juneau EMS responding to the blaze.  The rear apartments on the second floor were heavily damaged. The apartments and business on the first floor suffered smoke and water damage.


Awards:  Before the October 15 City Council meeting Fire Chief Greg Michalek presented Distinguished Service Medals to Assistant Chief Ralph Wandersee, Firefighter/EMT Brent Kurtz, Firefighter/Paramedic Chad Butler, Firefighter/EMT Brad Hering and Firefighter/ Paramedic Brad Fox for their service at the September 29, 2013 structure fire at 501 N. Fourth St; Unit Citation Awards to Assistant Chief Chad Butzine, Firefighter/ EMT Adam Fillmore and Firefighter/EMT Taylor Heinzel, Firefighter/EMT Jay Blasé and Firefighter Dwain Trewyn.  Mayor David expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to all the firefighters for the job well done at this fire.


10 03       N8482 COUNTY HIGHWAY X.  Town of Watertown

    An early morning fire in the town of Watertown brought out 20 area fire departments and caused an estimated $100,000 in damage to a single-family home.  The fire apparently started on the outside porch of the home from a discarded cigarette.  Blaze caused extensive damage to the second floor bedroom, first floor living room and dining room.  The family of four was home at the time of the fire, but everyone was able to escape the house without injuries.   WDTimes article,   WDTimes image portfolio 






Editor, Daily Times:  Watertown Fire Department Local 877 members hosted a brat and hot dog sale at the fire department’s open house on Oct. 5 to raise money for Friend to Friend of Watertown.  This program helps fund mammograms for women in need.  We would especially like to thank both Johnsonville of Watertown and Brownberry Bread of Oconomowoc for the donations of brats, hot dogs and buns.  With their help we were able to kick start our annual fundraiser and raise over $400.  Along with the brat and hot dog sale Local 877 is selling “pink gear” throughout the month of October, all proceeds go toward Friend to Friend.  – Watertown Fire Department Local No. 877 members.


11 07       GARAGE FIRE, 701 N. Church

     Detached garage fire knocked down within minutes



Common Council Proceeding: Fire Chief Greg Michalek presented Fire Department Life Saving Medals to Rescue 1 (FF Pieper & Taylor) and Engine 1 (Lt. Fohr, FF Kurz, and FF/pm Esmeier).  These were awards presented for the crew's quick efforts on April 27, 2013 which resulted in Mr. David P. Smith being able to make a full recovery from the event.  Fire Chief also presented Life Saving Awards to Rescue 1 (FF Fox & Adams) and Engine 2 (Lt. Riggs, FF's Hering and Butler) for/their quick efforts on September 3, 2013 to save Mrs. Edna Delair and allow her to make a full recovery.  Mayor David expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Fire Fighters and Police Officers for the jobs well done at these incidents.


Discussion. 4. Discuss Fire Department apparatus repair.  Due to the age of the Heavy Equipment Squad and/the cost of repairs, the Finance Committee felt it was reasonable to not repair this vehicle and plan for its replacement.  Motion was made and seconded to not repair the vehicle.



At the time of construction the foundation under the front porch was never filled in.  A piece of plywood was placed under it and after a while the plywood dropped down about seven feet into the ground.  There was a crack into the top of the porch and cigarettes were falling down through it and one of the cigarettes ignited the plywood on fire.  The family had no idea the board was down there.  It has probably been in the ground for 40 years.  The smoke from the burning plywood pushed into the house through the basement, causing minor smoke damage.  Firefighters had to punch out the cinder blocks on either side of the porch to get at the fire.

  WHS portfolio of images;   WDTimes portfolio of images.


12 19       FIRE FROM SNOWMOBILE WORK DAMAGES GARAGE  /  730 Crestview Drive

Flames were knocked down quickly before they could spread to the home, which was attached to the garage.  A father and son were replacing a fuel line on a snowmobile in the garage when some fuel was spilled.  Both the father and son had some singed hair and smoke on their faces. But they were examined at the scene and both refused medical transport.  The home sustained some smoke damage.  The garage sustained structure damage.

   WDTimes portfolio of images




                  Firefighters and paramedics for a call they responded to on Sept. 6, 2013, for a pulseless, non-breathing patient.  The quick response and skills performed on this patient saved his life and allowed for a full recovery.  L-R: firefighter-paramedic Scott Kreilkamp, firefighter-paramedic Jim Acker, Lt. Tim Gordon, firefighter Greg Wellach and firefighter-paramedic John Duvernell.



The council approved a 2014 fire protection and EMS agreement with the towns of Emmet, Milford, Shields and Watertown.  The townships will pay $186,222.54 based on applying the same tax rate paid by residents and business of the city of Watertown.  That breaks down to $28,304.33 from the town of Shields, $47,340.23 from the town of Emmet, $26,122.62 from the town of Milford and $88,898.25 from the town of Watertown.  Fire Chief Greg Michalek said the agreement is similar to previous agreements but did add $6,000 to the cost. He added that cost was split across the four townships. 


Approved a resolution to purchase an ambulance from Jefferson Fire and Safety of Middleton for $193,498.40.



All-terrain vehicle in garage on 500 block of Milford St. and vehicle fire in driveway on 200 block of Bonner St.



The Watertown Fire Department has announced Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Wandersee will retire on March 13 after working for the city for 30 year s. Wandersee has been with the department since Oct. 31, 1984.  Wandersee held every position in the department except for fire chief.


03 08       LIEUTENANT AND ASSISTANT CHIEF POSITIONS.  Common Council Proceedings

Fire Chief Greg Michalek was present to discuss changes he would like in the Fire Department Lieutenant and Assistant Chief positions.  After discussion and explanation of these changes, motion was made by Alderperson Romlein, seconded by Alderperson Tietz to approve this change in job descriptions and passed unanimously. 



Chief Michalek was again present to ask the Finance Committee to discontinue use of a private billing company and bring the billing in-house. With the training for staff and the software, there would still be substantial savings to the city in doing this. There was some discussion and questions by the Finance Committee. Motion was made by Alderperson Tietz, seconded by Alderperson Romlein to continue to pursue the ability to do the billing for EMS & Fire services internally, by the Fire Department and passed unanimously.



Mayor David introduced Fire Chief Michalek to present Life Saving Medals to the crew of Rescue 1 (Firefighter/ Paramedic Scott Umland and Firefighter/Paramedic Kyle Esmeier) and the crew of Engine 2 (Assistant Chief Chad Butzine, Firefighter/Paramedic Mason Tayler and Firefighter/ Paramedic Matt Pieper for their efforts that resulted in saving the life of a man down and not breathing at the bowling alley at 766 N. Church Street. Chief Michalek also presented Unit Citations to the crew of Rescue 1 (Firefighter/Paramedic Brad Fox, Firefighter/Paramedic William Adams) and the crew of Engine 2 (Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Wandersee, Firefighter/ Paramedic Chad Butler, and Firefighter/EMT Brad Hering) for their efforts that resulted in saving the life of a female that had attempted suicide. Mayor David congratulated all present for their efforts. 


03 12       GARAGE FIRE, 507 S. Washington     Caused by an overloaded electrical circuit inside the detached garage.



       Tim Gordon, formerly a lieutenant, will be replacing retired assistant fire chief Ralph Wandersee.  Wandersee retired on March 13 after working for the department for 30 years.  Gordon has been with the Watertown Fire Department for almost 20 years. He also worked as a firefighter in Milwaukee for four years prior to joining the Watertown Department.  The other assistant fire chiefs on staff include Chad Butzine, Keith Becken and Kraig Biefeld.



   The Watertown Fire Department has received a $1,500 fire prevention grant from FM Global, a commercial property insurer.  The award will be used to assist with pre-fire planning to efficiently collect and track data related to local community buildings.  The information will help the fire service respond in an emergency situation.   Through its Fire Prevention Grant Program, FM Global awards grants quarterly to fire departments — as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations worldwide — that best demonstrate a need for funding, where dollars can have the most demonstrable impact on preventing fire or mitigating the damage it can quickly cause.



No one was injured in a small fire at the Washington Inn, 516 E. Main St.  Officer Scott Kind was at the hotel at approximately 10 p.m. doing a verification check at the inn when he smelled smoke in the building, followed the smoke to a room that was unoccupied, alerted the fire department and other police officers and began an evacuation.  The building did not have a fire alarm system; there was a smoke detector in the room where the fire began, but it was not working at the time of the fire. A smoke detector in the hallway was working.  It is believed that the fire was started by a candle on the floor next to the sofa in the room.  Emergency officials also evacuated the Firecracker Pub which shares a building with the Washington Inn.    Video Clip  




The Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services (DSPS) visited the Watertown Fire Department.  The DSPS recognizes that the men and women of the department are dedicated to protecting the lives and safety of the citizens of Watertown.



      Wind and potential damage to building façade, especially 300 E Main (former Book World).

The Watertown Fire Department responded Sunday at 1:45 p.m. to the intersection of East Main and South Third streets to help the city take down the banner hung across the street after it was reported the high winds were damaging the siding of the buildings the banner was hung from. 



    Watertown Public Library event


05 07       CHAD BUTLER PROMOTED TO LIEUTENANT   Fire Chief Greg Michalek said Chad Butler has been promoted to lieutenant and will be transferring to the B shift starting Friday.  Butler previously worked as a firefighter/paramedic with the A shift.  Butler will be replacing Tim Gordon, who was promoted to assistant chief in March to replace the retired Ralph Wandersee.


05 12       STORM CAUSES PARTIAL ROOF COLLAPSE / Demolition of 223 W Main

    video       Portfolio of images 

A three-story building on the corner of West Main and South Washington streets was torn down Monday after being deemed unstable by the Watertown Fire Department following a partial collapse of the building’s roof during Monday’s storms.  Caused by water pooling on the roof and the high winds during the storm.  Weight of the debris from the roof then caved in the floor of the third story and piled onto the floor of the second story.  The building was empty at the time of the collapse.  Firefighters also evacuated the Why Not Bar and a second floor apartment next door at 221 W. Main St.


    TMJ video   



Portfolio of images 



WDTimes article;  WDTimes portfolio of images  


06 04       CIVIL WAR-ERA CANNONBALL found in resident’s yard

   The Watertown Fire Department was called on June 4th and they contacted Milwaukee’s Bomb Squad.  The cannonball was made of brass, and contained gun powder.  It was about three-and-one-fourth inches wide, and weighed about five pounds.  The cannonball was detonated in the city’s quarry.   WDTimes story  



The common council recognized several citizens and firefighters with lifesaving awards for a call on May 5 at Piggly Wiggly where there was a man without a pulse and not breathing.  Citizen bystanders Andrea Olson and Cathleen Gurnee, a registered nurse at Watertown Regional Medical Center, provided CPR to the man until firefighters arrived.  The crew who arrived consisted of firefighter/EMT Wes Jahnke, Lt. Layne Fohr and Assistant Fire Chief Chad Butzine.  The patient has now made a full recovery and is doing well.  Due to overlapping calls at the time another crew to assist them was not available.


07 08       LIGHTS N SIRENS ANNUAL EVENT     Image Portfolio 



Council Proceedings:  Exhibit #8067, to authorize the Fire Department to begin in-house billing on September 1, 2014 for EMS Services, with a checking account to be opened at JPMorgan Chase Bank was presented.  Carried on a roll call vote: Yes – 9. No – none.


07 23       307 E MAIN CALL

   Equipment malfunction caused smoke.     Image Portfolio 


08 08       818 E MAIN STRUCTURAL FIRE

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From left, firefighter/paramedics Scott Kreilkamp and Tanya Reynen and firefighter/EMT-B Greg Wellach were recently awarded life saving medals for their actions during a June 21 incident where they helped to save the life of a man who fell and had suffered what were at the time life-threatening injuries.



Lucas Vogt started at the department on June 25. He has his associate degree in fire protection technician from Waukesha County Technical College and is from both Hartford and Lake Country fire departments.  Dave Kruser started on Nov. 5 and has received his education from MATC Madison and Mercy Regional EMS in Janesville. Kruser is a former member of the Fitchburg Fire Department.  Vogt is filling a vacant firefighter/paramedic position due to promotions and Kruser is filling a firefighter/paramedic position vacated by William Adams, whom was hired in the city of Madison.








12 21       1118 RIVER DRIVE EXPLOSION AND HOUSE FIRE of 12 21 2014

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Watertown firefighters responded at 7:23 a.m. to 1118 River Drive for a reported explosion and subsequent fire; the back of the house had been blown out.  Firefighters could not enter the building initially due to structural concerns, and the fire caused the roof to collapse.  The house will need to be torn down.  Five fire departments from surrounding areas were at the scene assisting.  Nobody in the house at the time of the explosion.




The council will vote on the second reading of an ordinance to give the Watertown fire chief or authorized representative authority to bill those responsible for a hazardous waste spill for the cleanup of that waste.


Watertown Fire Department Life Saving Awards for Lt. Ken Riggs, Scott Umland, Brad Fox, Matt Pieper and Brad Hering for an emergency response where the above individuals resuscitated a patient believed to be having a heart attack and was found without a pulse and not breathing.  The patient is expected to make a complete recovery.



N8128 High Road fire confined to the chimney.





02 20       232 FREMONT ST. CHIMNEY FIRE

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02 26       WHAT’S WITH THE CROWD?

Editor, Daily Times:


Many times we arrive on an emergency medical call to initiate patient care and are asked, “What’s with so many people?”


When someone calls 911 with a medical emergency the dispatchers (person you talk to) will ask you if the patient is having any trouble breathing, chest pain, is conscious or unresponsive. These are key words for us as responders to get an idea of how sick our patient may be. If our patient is very sick it is important that we have as many hands on deck as quickly as possible in these types of situations. 10 hands many times work much faster than just 4.


Oftentimes there are paramedics staffing the fire engine that day as well. This allows for more assistance in patient care such as starting IVs, pushing important medications, assisting in maintaining our patient’s airway. The engine company will also assist in carrying in appropriate medical equipment, getting the cot ready; assist in lifting/moving the patient; all of which saves time critical to patient outcome.


Not only does the engine respond to EMS calls, but the ambulance responds to many fire incidents as well. Every member of the fire department is “cross trained” which means that we are all firefighters and some level of EMT. When there is a fire incident the ambulance crew has fire fighting gear and breathing apparatus on the ambulance so they are ready to assist immediately. The ambulance crew will then act as firefighters and complete any task assigned from command.


Tanya Reynen, marketing committee, Watertown Fire Department


03 02       115 N. WASHINGTON

Apartment fire, electrical, contained to attic, $5000 damage



Jim Acker, left, received a certificate for EMT of the Year, while Brad Fox received a certificate for Firefighter of the Year at the 67th Birthday Banquet of American Legion Post No. 189 on March 14.




The total number of runs in 2014 by the Watertown Fire Department was 2,369, with 579 of them being fire runs and 1,790 being EMS runs. This total number of runs is about 21.8 percent higher than in 2001, with almost twice as many fire calls.  Some of the increase in fire calls is due to the advent of the MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System).  MABAS was created by the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2006 as a mutual aid measure that deploys fire, rescue and emergency medical service personnel in a multijurisdictional or multi-agency response. The end result is a more comprehensive response, but that also places more calls on individual fire stations.


The city itself had a reduction in its fire department paid staff in the wake of the 2008 recession.  At the time, the department had 25 full-time employees. It currently has 22.  As part of its efforts to address the city's staffing concerns, the Watertown Fire Department has applied for the SAFER Grant.  The SAFER Grant would increase each shift by one staff member, bringing two shifts to a full crew of eight and a third shift to seven.


04 25       PROVIDER OF THE YEAR AWARD, Dodge County EMS banquet



04 28       MOCK PROM CRASH SCENARIO, Watertown High School



04 29       EMERGENCY SIREN UPGRADE, South and Benton streets



05 06       BRANDON WOJNOWSKI, a new full-time firefighter/ paramedic

Brandon Wojnowski, 23, began working with the department on March 11.  He comes to Watertown with six years of experience with Tess Corners Fire Department, first as a volunteer and then as a member of that department’s part-time staff for both fire and EMS.  Wojnowski went to Waukesha County Technical College for his firefighting certification and attended paramedic school at Gateway Technical College.  He began his career volunteering at Tess Corners Fire Department, and had started taking fire classes while still in high school.  He said his dad has been in fire service for 30 years, also beginning as a volunteer but is now a fire chief in Greendale.




Assistant Fire Chief Kraig Biefeld said the Dodge County EMS Association gave the award for reasons like the department’s 1,500 hours of continuing education in EMS and a save rate of 43.8 percent, more than four times the national average of 10.4 percent. 


The Watertown Fire Department has been providing EMS service to the city of Watertown and portions of Dodge County since 1975.  In 1993 the Watertown Fire Department became the first paramedic level service in Dodge County to offer paramedic intercept service to EMS agencies in Dodge County.  Aside from the high save rate, other accomplishments of the department in 2014 include paramedics becoming certified as Pre-Hospital Emergency Pediatric Providers (PEPP), license renewal for all EMS personnel and the purchase of a new ambulance.




Firefighters responded at 12:57 a.m. on 05/10 to Johnsonville Sausage, 104 E. Division St., for a structure fire.  When firefighters arrived on the scene smoke was coming from the building and fire was seen on the roof.  The fire caused extensive damage inside the building.  The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries.  The blaze was under control in about an hour.


Johnsonville sausage makers use downtime productively  

Workers at destroyed Johnsonville plant still paid, learn power of volunteering  



Council Proceedings, 04 21 2015   ///  Presentation regarding Fire Department readiness:  Assistant Fire Chief Biefeld was present in the absence of Chief Michalek to show a video and explain the various things regarding the Bakken Crude Oil Rail Response Considerations.  There are a growing number of concerns regarding the number of Crude Oil Tankers that are traveling through our City.  Assistant Chief Biefeld showed several different videos and explained the different types of preparedness and things that would take place in the event of an unforeseen derailment happening in or near Watertown.    Council Proceedings, 04 21 2015


06 01       PERRY ST. HOUSE FIRE

A mother and her two children (9 months and 2 years old) escaped a 1:59 a.m. fire at their home at 1041 Perry St., after being awakened by a fire alarm and barking dog.  Prior to the arrival of the fire department the woman had thrown her children out of a window to a police officer and then jumped out of the window herself to safety.



Review Fire Station Analysis Executive Summary.  Fire Chief Michalek was present to discuss the conclusions of the analysis that was done on the location of another Fire Station within the City.  The study is recommending a site on Dayton Street for a second Fire Station.  It is located in an area in which we have many calls to and is also quite a distance from the Central Fire Station in the middle of our City.  Chief Michalek noted that our fire responses are up 100% since 2002.  In April of this year 29% of our calls were multiple calls for service, more than one call at a time.  Monthly, we are around 21% of our calls being multiple calls.  It would give us better response time if we had another location, especially for EMS calls which are going up substantially every month and annually.  This information was provided by the Chief for the Alderpersons to think about.  This will be coming back in the future for further discussion concerning another Fire Station in the City of Watertown.    Council Proceedings



(same date) Review& approve Fire Department Paging System bid.  The current Paging System at the Fire Department is over 25 years old.  In the Budget for 2015 a new Paging System was approved.  $ 26,000.00 was budgeted.  The Chief did receive two bids for the System.  The low bidder was Scan Am, at$ 25,993.00. APS also put in a bid of$ 30,540.97.  There was discussion concerning the Paging System.  The Chief explained that this is an in- building paging system.  It will page out firefighters from all areas of the building.  Not only within the Fire Department and the Apparatus Floor, but in the dorm room, workout room, the basement offices, all these areas have to be covered by the paging system.  It also allows the firefighters to respond back verbally to the Dispatch Center.  Motion was made by Alderperson Larsen to recommend the purchase from Scan Am, seconded by Mayor David and passed unanimously.    Council Proceedings



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Kraig Biefeld, assistant fire chief for the Watertown Fire Department, spoke with the Watertown Finance Committee about a recent fire station analysis that had been completed by Vandewalle and Associates.  The analysis recommends the construction of new stations in three different areas of the city to help improve the fire department’s ability to respond to an increasing number of calls in a very large area.  However, the analysis recognizes the financial constraints on such drastic actions and instead offers a single new satellite fire station on the city’s west side as the best first step to addressing these concerns.


The Watertown Fire Department’s service area includes more than the city of Watertown, it includes significant portions of the surrounding towns of Emmet and Shields in Dodge County and the towns of Watertown and Milton in Jefferson County.  The current city limits contains about 12.5 square miles, while the entire fire service area covers approximately 88 square miles.  Response times are another large factor in making the proposal to build satellite fire stations.  The standard response time for fulltime departments is six minutes, as set by the National Fire Protection Association.  Those six minutes are broken down into 60 seconds to answer the call and dispatch the fire department, between 60-90 seconds to get dressed and out the door and four minutes to reach the scene of the incident.  According to data from the Watertown Fire Department, the average response time is between six and seven minutes for three of the city’s four districts and just above five minutes for the final district.  This is due to a couple of reasons, including the large coverage area, but also the increasing prevalence of multiple calls coming in simultaneously.


The analysis states the first new station should be on the west side, as the station would largely serve present development not well served by the current station as well as some future residential and nonresidential expansion.  The proposed preferred site for the west side satellite facility is 127 Dayton St., a property previously identified by the Watertown Park, Recreation and Forestry Commission as one that would be possibly desired for parkland.  It was proposed that the whole parcel could be purchased, as the satellite facility would only require a portion of the land, and the remainder of it could be developed as parkland by the city.



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Initial investigation showed that as 1978 single engine Cessna was approaching the Watertown Airport for a landing just before 6pm the plane lost engine power and crashed through some trees, coming to rest on private property.  The pilot, who was alone in the plane, received minor injuries and was transported to the Watertown Hospital.   Jefferson County Sheriff, Watertown Police Department, Watertown EMS and Watertown Fire Department responded to the scene.  Jefferson County Emergency Communications volunteers were also dispatched to the scene to assist.


08 18       GARAGE FIRE AT W8705 HIGH ROAD

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Watertown firefighters responded Tuesday at 10:09 a.m. to the property after a passerby had seen the fire through the open garage door and notified the residents to evacuate; the cause of the fire was electrical.  Residents exited the building the garage door had come down on its own and cut off the oxygen for the fire, hampering it greatly and likely saving the house.  Extensive heat damage to the garage, vehicle and contents of the garage.    Aid sought for family displaced by fire.   WDTimes article



A malfunction of a furnace at Spuncast Inc., W6499 Rhine Road, caused a fire Tuesday night that was quickly extinguished by Watertown firefighters.  Firefighters responded to the facility at 10:52 p.m. after the malfunction had caused molten metal to go into the air and start a fire on the ceiling.  Flames could be seen through the roof upon arrival.  There were no injuries, but the production line had to be shut down and the building evacuated while the fire was put out.



(L-R) Fire Department members Brad Fox, Scott Umland, Ken Riggs, Tim Gordon and Elizabeth Wagler, Muscular Dystrophy Assn.

Department raised $6,878 during its seventh year of Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Fill-the-Boot campaign.  The department has raised roughly $65,000 since its first year of doing the campaign.



The Watertown Fire Department will be going head-to-head with the Watertown Police Department in their first softball game Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Riverside Park.  The game, to be played annually, will act as a fundraiser for the Watertown Family Center. 




      WDTimes, WDTimes 10 07 2015, WDTimes,



Review & approve accepting the Assistance Fire Fighter Grant for the Fire Department.  Chief Michalek was present to explain that we received a grant for $65,000.00, which will go toward some new infra-red cameras and to upgrade the Exhaust System in the Fire Department.  Motion was made and seconded to accept the grant.    Common Council proceedings.



Review & approve transfer of funds in the Fire Department from the Revenue Account to the Expense Account, to pay for the items that were awarded in the AFG Grant. Motion was made and seconded to approve the transfer. 3. Review & approve the updated job description for Andrea Peters.  Chief Michalek was present to explain that he had received an updated JDQ from Carlson Dettmann recommending the pay grade for Andrea’s position be moved from a Grade F to a Grade G.  The Chief is requesting that she be placed on Step 3. Motion was made and seconded to approve this pay grade change immediately.    Common Council proceedings.



Fire Chief Greg Michalek was present to explain the need for a new engine. He appreciates this being included in the Capital Budget, as the newest engine is 11 years old, with the oldest being 31 years old. He also explained the need for at least one fire fighter, as he will be having two gone on FMLA again at the end of this year and he has a strain with the lack of staffing.    Common Council proceedings.



The council voted 8-0 to purchase a completion and upgrade for the fire department’s vehicle exhaust system from Hastings Air Energy Inc. of New Berlin for $47,661.  The fire department had received an Assistance to Firefighters Grant that will cover up to 90 percent of the cost, so the city will only need to provide about $4,766 for this purchase.


The council also voted 8-0 to purchase two Argus Edge 320 thermal imaging cameras with truck charger from Jefferson Fire and Safety of Middleton for $12,404.  The Assistance to Firefighters Grant the department had received will also cover 90 percent of this cost, so the city will only need to provide about $1,240 for this purchase.


10 20       UNIT CITATION FOR ENGINE 2 AND RESCUE 3 at Common Council meeting

Mayor David presented a Unit Citation from the Fire Chief for Engine 2 and Rescue 3 which states: 


“On October 7, 2015, at approximately 0217 hrs, the Watertown Fire Department was dispatched to a single vehicle accident at S. Concord and Brian Court.  Initial information on dispatch was the vehicle crashed after a police chase and there was movement in the vehicle.  Engine 2 (with Assistant Chief Gordon, Lt. Riggs, and FF/PM Fox) and Rescue 3 (with FF/PM Pieper and FF/ PM Wojnowski) responded.  Upon arrival they found a midsized vehicle wrapped around a tree, almost cut in half.  Inside the vehicle were five (5) victims entangled in a heavily damaged vehicle.  Assistant Chief Gordon immediately requested a Box Alarm on a Life-safety card.  This brought an Engine and Ambulance from Johnson Creek, Engine, Ambulance and Chief Officer from Ixonia, Ambulance from Fort Atkinson Ryan Brothers, Ambulance from Waterloo, Heavy Rescue from Jefferson, and a Chief Officer from Lake Mills.  A Lake Mills Engine and Beaver Dam Ambulance changed quarters to our station.  Two helicopters were also requested and responded from UW Madison Hospital.  Engine 2 and Rescue 3 immediately started the difficult and arduous task of extrication.  Due to the extensive damage to the vehicle and entanglement of the victims, the extrication was very difficult and time consuming.  They were able to extricate two victims prior to the arrival of mutual aid companies.  All resources were required for the extrication for the victims in the front seats.  For their actions, at first with limited manpower and an extremely difficult extrication with multiple victims, Engine 2 and Rescue 3 are awarded Unit Citations.  Their professionalism, resourcefulness and skills in a very challenging and trying situation was no less than remarkable.”



               < PORTFOLIO OF PICS

 “I was home when it happened about 150 yards to my south. 

It sounded like giant metal dumpster being dragged on concrete.


Tanker car derailment west of Montgomery Street crossing a little after 2 p.m., in the southwestern part of the city where the Canadian Pacific mainline and the Union Pacific branch line intersect.  Thirteen cars left the tracks at and near the intersection of the Canadian Pacific mainline and the Union Pacific branch line.  The 110-car train was bound for Chicago, with 109 of those cars carrying crude oil.  Canadian Pacific Railway says a broken rail caused an oil train derailment.


"What I saw was the main car that was leaking, jumped the tracks, landed into the back of that building, hit an electrical transformer box and also had the natural gas leaking to it’ said Assistant Fire Chief Kraig Biefeld.  “The leaking gas and spilled oil were in close proximity to the running generator in the building as well as an electrical transformer."


Shortly after, the Johnson Creek Fire Department arrived and Biefeld directed them to put down class B foam over the oil on one side of the leaking rail car while Watertown Fire Chief Greg Michalek had a crew spray the other side.  Firefighting foam creates a film over combustible fuel, minimizing its contact with oxygen and cooling the affected area.  When the Clyman and Ixonia fire departments arrived, Biefeld said he directed them to check on the other derailed cars for leaks before having the Clyman firefighters disconnect the power.  Biefeld said besides shutting off the power to the building, firefighters also had to disable the building's backup power sources.


"You opened the door and you could smell the crude oil fumes already, so if there was a spark that would have started a fire with that generator running," Biefeld said. "So they opened that door up, turned the generator off, and opened up the other four doors and pulled out fuses or anything to make sure the batteries weren't working."  Biefeld and the firefighters began to dig a path to divert the oil to a lower spot.   WDTimes story   


More details.   YouTube video clip 



Exhibit #8238, to enter into Fire Protection & EMS Agreements with the Town of Watertown ($86,622.97), Town of Shields ($32,082.58), Town of Emmet ($52,831.69) and Town of Milford ($26,628.54) for 2016 was presented.  Carried on a roll call vote: Yes – (8) No – none (0).


11 23       HOME FIRE, 503 N. MONTGOMERY

A structure fire Friday night has left a home on North Montgomery Street with heavy smoke damage and some fire damage in its garage.




Several area businesses have agreed to donate necessary materials to develop a new training facility for the Watertown Fire Department near the corner of South Twelfth Street and Air Park Drive.  The department expects the facility to be operational in the summer of 2017 with construction resuming in the spring.  The new facility will allow the department to train in things like fire extinguishment, confined space rescue, vehicle extrication, ventilation and much more.  To reduce the impact the facility has on the surrounding community, the fire department will only burn natural materials like wood and hay, avoiding the toxic fumes of plastics and chemicals.


Shipping containers, purchased with a grant through the Brandt-Quirk Foundation, will eventually be built into the structures that comprise the training facility. Johnsonville Sausage will also contribute to the project, supplying door frames, scrap metal and several other materials from its former factory.  Other businesses that have pledged services and materials include: Sherwin-Williams, Dodge Concrete, Rock River Blacksmith LLC and Jacobson Crane Service.  WDTimes article   



Fire Chief Greg Michalek presented Life Saving Awards to crews of Rescue 3 and Engine 1 for their response to a 55-year-old female patient on December 28, 2015.  After two minutes of CPR, a pulse returned to the patient.  Those receiving Life Saving Awards at the meeting were Assistant Chief Butzine and Fire Fighter/EMT Brent Kurtz.  Not in attendance, but also receiving awards were Fire Fighter/Paramedic Pieper and Fire Fighter/Paramedic Reynan and Lieutenant Fohr.   Council Proceedings



Review & approve purchase of new fire engine.  Fire Chief Michalek was present to explain that 10 bids were received that ranged from $672.660.00 to $554.564.00.  The low bidder was Marion Truck Body, which is a Wisconsin based manufacturer and is the vehicle that is being recommended.  Citizen Dennis VandenHuevel was present to address color scheme.  Mr. VandenHuevel prefers vehicles to be red and white and feels the Committee should set a standard.  After considerable discussion, a motion was made and seconded to approve the purchase of the fire engine from Marion Truck Body and to allow the Chief and his Department to decide on the color scheme.  Motion passed unanimously.    Council Proceedings




8. Discuss & approve Fire Department Billing Write-offs.  Chief Michalek and Andrea Peters were present to explain that the transition between LifeQuest doing our billing and taking this over in-house, left accounts in the amount of $28,824.16, which are currently viewed as being uncollectable.  Motion was made and seconded to recommend the write-off of these accounts.  Motion passed unanimously


9. Discuss & approve Fire Department to hire an intern.  Chief Michalek and Andrea Peters explained that there is an opportunity to hire an intern for the Fire Department for approximately 72 hours.  This individual is seeking to finish her degree.  Motion was made and seconded to approve hiring this individual for 8 hours per week, with the cost to be taken from the Paid On-Call Fire Department Account.  Motion passed unanimously.    Council proceedings




The Watertown Police and Fire Commission discussed the burdensome amount of assistance the Watertown Fire Department is providing to departments in surrounding towns that are unable to respond to calls in their meeting Monday night.   Fire Chief Greg Michalek said the town of Lebanon in particular has put strain on the department’s finances and personnel.  He attended the Lebanon town board meeting Thursday and presented a proposal that would bill the town $475 for each call for aid.


The proposal and others like it may provide a temporary solution, while Michalek and others in the state push for fire districts that would better organize and fund fire departments in Wisconsin.   At its previous meeting, the commission spoke with state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and state Rep. John Jagler about creating legislation for fire districts. Although it will likely be a lengthy process, the formation of a committee that will perform a legislative council study on the matter is in the works.


Michalek handed out the fire department’s very first monthly report newsletter.  The newsletter contains information about fire inspections, department training and even includes a monthly run count.  The newsletter will be available to the public on the department’s Facebook page.



The Finance Committee approved the fire department to apply for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant offered through FEMA.  The grant provides funds directly to fire departments for the hiring of additional firefighters on a renewable two-year basis.  The department will apply for money to hire three additional firefighters.


Allowed the transfer of a 2003 John Deere Gator from the water department to the fire department.  The fire department plans on using the Gator to respond to areas in city parks as well as for rural grass fires.  The department will get the vehicle inspected and fitted with the proper equipment once it is transferred.



Council proceedings:  Committee Reports, Finance Committee, February 15, 2016:  Review & approve Fire Department flooring.  Street Superintendent Rick Schultz and Fire Chief Greg Michalek were present to show the breakdown of where the money was coming from for the flooring project in the Fire Department.  Money will come from the Fire Department Repair Account #01-52-31-20, Fire Department Supplies Account #01-52-3118, Municipal Building Capital Outlay Account #01-51-71-16, Municipal Building Repair Account #01-51-71-20 and Municipal Building Supplies Account #01-51-71-18.  Motion was made and seconded to approve the expense, which passed unanimously.



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Fire was started in between the walls of the kitchen and one of the bedrooms and was most likely the result of an electrical malfunction.  The fire caused water to leak into the business downstairs but Vogue's products were able to be moved and were not damaged.


03 23       520 OAK PARK AVE, 1:56 a.m.


Fire started in the garage, was extinguished, but caused damage to the garage’s service door and drywall.




Heroin use has increased exponentially in recent years and, as a result, the number of overdoses has also increased. Paramedics irst responders find themselves attending to these individuals more and more frequently.  Tanya Reynen, a firefighter/paramedic at the Watertown Fire Department, has noticed the frequency of heroin related calls increasing in the last three years.   WDTimes story  



Garage fire spreads to attached home and to garage of neighbor.  Owner closed on home 3 hours prior to fire.

      WDTimes story      Video clip



Chickens Unlimited donated $1,500 towards repurposing an all-terrain vehicle received in February from the water department.



Council Proceedings:  Discuss & approve request for Pancake Breakfast – Fire Department Open House.  The Fire Department wants to get a new Sparky the Fire Dog costume to use for public relations events, classroom visits, station tours, etc.  The costume costs approximately $4,000.00.  They are proposing a Pancake Breakfast in conjunction with the Fire Department Open House.  Motion was made and seconded to approve this breakfast and the use of the funds to purchase the Sparky costume.  Motion passed unanimously.


07 01       404 DEWEY GARAGE FIRE

5 am unattached garage fire at this address.  Garage, contents and vehicle a total loss.


This is a 3-unit home with the lower level being one unit.  There were 3 adults and 4 small children down there.  Upstairs is 2 units, a 2 bedroom and a one bedroom.  In addition, between both upper units there were 3 snakes, a chameleon, a turtle, 4 cats and 4 dogs.


  Image Portfolio           Video clip       



   WDTimes photo

The Watertown Fire Department recently finished customizing a John Deere Gator for off-road fire operations in city parks and rural areas.  The Gator is fitted with a portable pump, 50 feet of hose, a 70-gallon water tank and a stretcher.  The vehicle was transferred to the department earlier this year from the city’s water department and the equipment was donated by the fire department’s rural partners in the towns of Watertown, Emmet, Milford and Shields.



     FIRE DEPT vs POLICE DEPT, Charity Softball Classic


Team photo of members of the Watertown Fire Department and the Watertown Police Department after the Battle of the Badges fundraiser softball game.  Both of Watertown's public safety branches duked it out on the diamond for the Battle of the Badges, a charity softball event.  Battle of the Badges pitted the Watertown Fire Department against the Watertown Police Department in a friendly competition at Washington Park to raise funds for new playground equipment at Douglas Elementary School.



The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy announced earlier this summer that Watertown Fire Chief Greg Michalek successfully completed the Executive Fire Officer Program.


Each of the four courses required a written applied research product to demonstrate application of course theory and concepts to real life situations with the student’s own organization.  Each of these projects was evaluated through a formal process, and progression through the program was contingent on achieving each of these milestones.  Six months after completion of each of the courses, the EFOP participants were required to complete an ARP in their own organization.  The required executive level courses include executive development, executive analysis of community risk reduction, executive analysis of fire service operations in emergency management and executive leadership.


09 26       ELECTRICAL FIRE AT 208 1/2 N. FIFTH

Started by an electrical malfunction in between the ceiling of the first story and the floor of the second.  No injuries.  Estimated $20,000 in damage.  Link to portfolio of images   



The executive budget presented to finance committee included plan to hire one additional firefighter to bolster the ranks of the city’s understaffed fire department. This will be welcome news to the department, which has been short three firefighters since it was fully staffed in 2010, seeing a 33 percent increase in call volume over the same six years.






Firefighters responded Sunday at 2:37 p.m. to W8131 Quarry Road for a barn fire.  The fire was extinguished but burned the roof of the barn.  No one was injured.



         Video clip     

Mutual aid from numerous area departments.  Selected segments from video given Fire Department



The Watertown Fire Department will be conducting a training burn on December 10th.  The exercise is a live drill.  The house is located at 1004 S. 12th St.  WFD staff along with members from Waterloo, Johnson Creek, Clyman and Ixonia Fire Departments will practice extinguish fires for two to three hours starting around 8 a.m. A whole house burn will follow.  The area departments will practice skills in search and rescue, ventilation and fire extinguishment during the exercise.   Portfolio of pictures  


12 21       2016 MARION RESCUE PUMPER


A custom 2016 Marion rescue pumper was delivered to the Watertown Fire Department.  The truck, which was purchased by the city for $545,564, has the capability to carry a large amount of equipment in addition to 1,000 gallons of water



Watertown firefighters responded Saturday at 10:11 p.m. to the W7000 block of Martin Road for a garage fire.  The garage was fully engulfed by the time firefighters arrived and it was deemed a total loss after the flames were extinguished.  No one was injured in the blaze.



01 10       DAN KARRELS & JOSHUA WEBER, new firefighters


Karrels was hired on Dec. 19, 2016, filling one of the firefighter/ paramedic positions while Weber was hired on Jan. 3 filling a position that had been vacant since 2010 due to city budget restrictions.


Karrels received a bachelor’s degree in science of public administration from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2012.  He obtained his firefighter one certificate in 2009, his EMT license in 2012 and his paramedic license in 2014.  He has worked for the Lisbon Fire Department and applied for the position in Watertown in 2015.


Weber currently lives in Fort Atkinson with his 9-year-old son and fiancée.  Weber had been with the Fort Atkinson Fire Department since 2002 and became a paramedic in 2011 after completing the program at Madison Area Technical College.  After obtaining his licensure, he worked as a paramedic for Ryan Brothers Ambulance Service in Madison.


02 10       506 COLLEGE AVE structural fire


Cause may have been electrical.  Estimated damage $10,000.



Street Superintendent Schultz was present to explain that there are some significant cracks in the hose tower in the Fire Department and they want to investigate why this is happening.  He has spoken to a structural engineer who will remove a few of the bricks and check the soil to see what might be causing this, at a cost not to exceed $1,000.00.    [City Council meeting of 02 07]



Fire Chief Michalek presented the agreement with the Townships of Shields, Emmet, Milford & Watertown for EMS and Fire Protection.  The agreements are basically the same as the previous contracts but does include the requirement to pay their fire dues to the City.  The total for the four is $191,628.81.  Motion was made and seconded to recommend these contracts.  A resolution will be presented.     [City Council meeting of 02 07]



Fire Chief Michalek presented this contract in the amount of $11,795.00. Motion was made and seconded to recommend this contract, which passed unanimously. A resolution will be presented.      [City Council meeting of 02 07]



Fire Chief Michalek was present to explain this year’s SAFER Grant application.  It has changed a bit from the past, where the grant paid the total amount of wages and benefits for two years and a portion of the third year and then after that the municipality picked up all expenses.  This year’s application has the grant paying 75% in the first year and second years.  In the third year they pay 35%.  After that the municipality must pick up the entire amount.  Motion was made and seconded to approve this application and passed unanimously.      [City Council meeting of 02 07]



Since it took over its own EMS billing duties in 2014, the Watertown Fire Department is seeing higher collection numbers because of more reliable methods made available by the state.  Established in 2009, the SDC allows the fire department to refer outstanding debts to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for collection action.  Before the change, the department used LifeQuest, a collections agency that specializes in fire and EMS billing.


The department also offers hardship requests to those with an inability to pay the bill in full or at all.  Patients can request their ambulance fee to be waived, reduced or divided into monthly payments.  Depending on circumstances like monthly household income, dependents and specific hardships, the city's finance committee makes determinations on a case-by-case basis on whether requests will be approved.   WDTimes article  



1. Review & approve purchase from Robotronics for the Fire Department.  Assistant Chief Biefeld was present to explain that the department had decided to change direction for the purchase from their Pancake Fundraiser.  They wish to purchase a Freddy the Fire Truck at a cost of $9,800.00 which will be used to inform children about fire safety.  The money will come from Fire Prevention Donations Acct. #01-58-11-04.  Motion was made, seconded and passed to approve this purchase.


2. Review & approve Fire Department Emergency Government Siren Replacement Proposal. The Fire Department received three bids and is recommending Federal Signal for a cost of $18,118.00.  Motion was made and seconded to recommend this purchase.  Motion passed unanimously. A resolution will be presented.



Finance Committee, February 27, 2017.  Review and approve hiring of part-time clerk position for Fire Department.  Fire Chief Michalek recommended hiring Jane Rakos.  Motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to approve hiring Rakos.


04 25       LT. RIGGS RETIRES

After nearly three decades with the Watertown Fire Department, Lt. Ken Riggs finished up his final shift Tuesday afternoon.  Riggs began his career as a volunteer firefighter in Palmyra before taking a job with Bell Ambulance in Milwaukee where he worked for five years.  He joined the WFD in 1990 and has been an integral part of its team ever since. He was one of the original paramedics when the department started providing the service in the 1990’s.



[same date] Unanimously authorized the fire department to purchase rescue struts and a one-man portable monitor nozzle for $4,400.  The struts are used to stabilize wrecked vehicles and buildings, allowing firefighters to access patients more efficiently.



The American Legion Auxiliary Unit #189 donated $300 to the Watertown Fire Department towards the purchase of extrication equipment.  The equipment is used to extricate victims that have been trapped in vehicles following collisions and other situations where victims need to be removed from equipment or wreckage.  This donation was obtained through the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #189’s fundraising efforts.



Chickens Unlimited donated $1,200 to the Watertown Fire Department for the purchase of water rescue suits.  These suits are used for both ice and water rescue incidents as well as training for these types of incidents.



Watertown firefighters responded Tuesday at 4:25 a.m. to the 200 block of Air Park Drive for a structure fire.  A porch of an apartment was partially burned after a resident disposed of a smoldering cigarette in a wicker basket.  The fire was extinguished and no one was injured.


05 17       1007 N. WATERFIRE

Mid-morning fire caused by a recalled dehumidifier left a portion of a duplex uninhabitable.  Started in basement and burned through a portion of the first floor.



A structure fire injured one resident at Dycora Transitional Health on Hospital Drive early Saturday morning.  “We’re not exactly sure of the cause of it yet, possibly electrical,” fire Chief Greg Michalek said.  “The fire burned the bed with the patient in it and part of the wall.”  Michalek said the blaze was contained to a single room of the 112-bed nursing home, but the wing it is located in also suffered water and smoke damage.  Firefighters along with a number of police officers and Dycora personnel were able to evacuate the 20 patients in the affected wing.  The sprinkler system activated and put the fire out but there was a lot of smoke.”


. . . . On August 9th Dycora Transitional Health Administrator Jameie Johnson headed a special luncheon held at the facility which sought to recognize firefighters and staff for their evacuation efforts during a fire.  In addition to the luncheon, Johnson handed out plaques and awards to the firefighters and staff who helped manage the crisis.  Dycora will dedicate a tree at the facility honoring Audrey Ninmann and her late husband, Arthur, who perished as a result of the fire.



Review & approve tile replace in Fire Department bathrooms.  Street Superintendent Schultz presented two bids.  Motion was made and seconded to approve the low bidder, Vogel’s Tile & Flooring of Fort Atkinson, in the amount of $4,430.15.  Motion passed unanimously.   Council proceedings of 06 06 2017




New outdoor warning siren replaced an older siren located near Luther Prep on Western Ave.



    10:15 pm.  

The fire originated from cardboard boxes stored under the porch.  No injuries or serious damage reported.





07 04       1430 HENRY ST. STRUCTURE FIRE

The apartment unit that caught fire was empty and no injuries were reported.  The fire is believed to have started on a couch and extinguished itself while firefighters were responding.


07 11       LIGHTS ‘N SIRENS

      Portfolio of 50 pics



The Watertown Fire Department has received the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline EMS Silver Award for implementing quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.  Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction, the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.  To prevent death, it’s critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.


Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care and improving the quality of life for these patients.  Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Silver award have demonstrated at least 75 percent compliance for each required achievement measure for one year.


The Watertown Fire Department is currently working with Watertown Regional Medical Center in achieving a Chest Pain accreditation.



Council Proceedings:  Review & approve repairs to Fire Department rooms.  Motion was made and seconded to move forward with the bid from Jefferson Glass at $2,900.00 to replace the windows and to authorize Street Superintendent Schultz to get the sanitary sewer pipes replaced as soon as possible.  This passed unanimously.



The City Council accepted the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant offered by the federal government. The SAFER grant will allow the city to hire three additional firefighters, welcome news for the fire department, which continues to experience record call volume. The grant would cover 75 percent of the new firefighters’ salaries for the first two years, with the city paying the remaining 25 percent. In the third year, the grant scales down to 35 percent of the stipends with the city responsible for 65 percent. The city would then take on full financial responsibility for the additional staff in the fourth year.



Council Proceedings:  Committee Reports Finance Committee, August 1, 2017.  Review & approve Assistance to Firefighter Grant for purchase of Extrication tools.  Chief Michalek was present to explain this $35,000.00 grant, of which the City’s portion would be $3,150.00 to purchase new extrication equipment.  Motion was made and seconded to approve applying for this grant, which passed unanimously.



Council Proceedings:  RESOLUTIONS Exhibit #8507, to authorize the acceptance of a SAFER Grant from the Federal Government for three years for the hiring of three additional fire fighters, with the grant providing 75% of the usual annual cost for the first and second years and 35% of the annual cost for the third year was presented.  Sponsor: Mayor David. From: The Finance Committee. Alderperson Tietz moved for adoption of this resolution, seconded by Alderperson Kilps and carried on a roll call vote. Yes — 9. No — none.




Assistant fire Chief Kraig Biefeld will once again assume the role of interim fire chief after being selected by the city’s Police and Fire Commission in its meeting Monday night.  Biefeld will undertake the duties and responsibilities of former fire Chief Greg Michalek while the commission continues its search for a new chief. 


Biefeld began his career with the city’s fire department in 1993 as a paid on-call member.  He eventually got his paramedic certification and moved on to work full time for the Kaukauna Fire Department for two years.  Biefeld then returned to Watertown in 2000 and has remained employed here ever since.  In 2008, Biefeld was named director of EMS.  He also served a stint as interim chief in 2010 between the transition of former Chief Henry Butts and Michalek.    WDTimes article



      Video clip 

A Watertown man was transported to the hospital after escaping a 3 a.m. fire in his 410 S. Sixth St. apartment early Sunday morning (09/17).  After receiving mutual aid assistance from a dozen area departments, firefighters were able to contain the blaze to one of the building’s four apartment units.  The apartment suffered over $50,000 in damage not including personal property lost that was lost in the fire.  The fire was a result of careless use of smoking materials which were placed in a trash receptacle.



The city’s finance committee approved a contract that will provide fire protection and EMS coverage for 2018 with the townships of Watertown, Milford, Emmet and Shields.  This year’s contract will total $204,537, about $13,000 more than last year’s.  Interim fire Chief Kraig Biefeld said because of a failure to update numbers in the formula, the townships have not been getting charged as much as they should have for the past several years.  The committee also approved a 5 percent increase for the city’s fire and EMS contract with the village of Reeseville, which hasn’t had its rate increased since 2010. The 5 percent will amount to $587 in 2018.


— Unanimously authorized the purchase of cabinets and countertops for the fire department kitchen.  The work will be completed by Peirick’s Semi Custom Cabinets for $18,523 if approved by the common council.


— Authorized the sale of a 1994 E-350 Ford ambulance on Wisconsin Surplus, an online auction website.


— Unanimously denied to accept the donation of a vintage Watertown fire truck from a private citizen. While the committee agreed the gesture was generous and the truck was a piece of history, it voted not to accept the donation because of the storage, maintenance and insurance costs associated with the fire truck.


— Approved to transfer money from the fire department’s repairs account to cover $8,480 in work done on the fire department training site at the corner of South Twelfth Street and Air Park Drive.



The city's fire department will likely receive $340,000 for new self-contained breathing apparatuses.  It will also receive $3,000 in general fund dollars to replace a fire hose.   Watertown finance committee.


10 05       MDA FUNDRAISER

Members of the Watertown Fire Department hit the streets in September for their annual fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  This year’s donation to the MDA was just over $5,929.  The fire department and MDA have teamed up for the past nine years raising money to help fund research and life-enhancing programs such as state-of-the-art support groups and care centers, including the MDA Care Center at Dean Clinic, UW Hospital, American Family Children’s Hospital as well as Froedtert Clinic and Children’s Hospital. They also helped send more than 40 local children to “Wonderland,” an MDA summer camp in Camp Lake, at no cost to their families.


10 30       807 MAPLE CREST LANE FIRE

Five people were displaced from their home after a structure fire caused extensive damage to a single-family residence at 807 Maple Crest Lane Sunday night.  No one was injured in the blaze which took firefighters less than an hour to extinguish.  The fire is believed to have been started from discarded bonfire ashes that were placed in a garbage can in the garage.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the garage area, but the house suffered significant smoke damage.  Damages will total about $150,000.



An assistant clerk at the Watertown Fire Department resigned in September after it was discovered that she stole a small amount of cash from the city.  The employee, Jane Rakos, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft in Watertown Municipal Court in October.  She was fined $857.20 for both citations and was also ordered to pay restitution to the city.  Both instances of theft involved denominations less than $100



Review Ambulance Billing & Receivables. After considerable discussion, Fire Dept. Administrative Assistant Andrea Peters, felt she could set up a multi-tier system, similar to the previous provider, which would move aged receivables out of the current balance.  She will report back to the Finance Committee in December.    Common Council meeting of 12 05 2017



Exhibit #8550, to approve the 2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the International Association of Fire Fighters was presented. Sponsor: Mayor David. From: The Finance Committee. Alderperson Tietz moved for the adoption of this resolution, seconded by Alderperson Smith and carried on a roll call vote: Yes — 9. No — None.    Common Council meeting of 12 05 2017



Watertown Assistant Fire Chief Tim Gordon was found not guilty of obstructing a police officer.  The municipal charge against Gordon was initiated by the city of Watertown and alleges he intentionally misrepresented an incident that occurred while he was on duty in March conducting a fire inspection.   WDTimes article   



Fire Department. Interim Fire Chief Biefeld explained the City received a grant towards the purchase of these tools.  The grant will cover 90% of the cost.  The City’s net cost will be approximately $2,800.  Motion passed unanimously to recommend approval of the purchase.  Update on EMS billing. Andrea Peters of the Fire Department was present to explain that she worked with the software provider to develop a three-tier system for accounts in various phases of the collection process.  Motion passed unanimously to approve the new system for recording EMS receivable balances.