Written by The Herald-News
During 100 years of serving the Wolf Point community and the surrounding area, many have toiled tirelessly to make the Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department the institution it is today.
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department had its earliest beginnings back in 1913 when a group of men held a meeting in John Coffey’s store and made plans to organize the community’s first fire department, as chronicled in Roosevelt County’s Treasured Years.
They held their first Firemen’s Ball in 1913 and started a tradition that has been upheld for the past 100 years. Funds from this first ball were used to purchase hand-drawn firefighting equipment.
Roosevelt County’s Treasured Years reports that, around 1917, the department acquired a fire truck and had 15 men listed as firemen, including Ted Stennes, Todd Shamley, Les Rowe, Virgil Alberts and Charlie Howe.
The Fire Department Today
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department currently has 17 members, led by fire chief Shawn Eggar and assistant chief Allen Richard. Captains in the department are David M. Parsley and Brandon Matejovsky. Secretary/treasurer is Chris Dschaak. David Toavs serves as training officer and Clint Bushman is the safety officer. Firefighters with the department are Joe Reinhart, Terry Cody, Paul Gysler, Terry Delger, Chris Allen, Beau Garfield, Mike Palivoda, Alfredo Vargas, Dana Matejovsky and Tim Davis.
These dedicated firefighters often forfeit time from their jobs, their families and relaxation to respond to fires and accidents, supplying their expertise when it is needed by visitors and community members alike.
They work with a fleet of 11 trucks, including three city structure engines, a 4,400-gallon tender, six rural wildland fire engines, a rural rescue pumper truck and a command vehicle.
The department’s newest truck, “17-7,” is a 2010 rural structure engine. The four-wheel drive International has a 1,000-gallon water capacity, with a deck gun capable of spraying water 200 feet at a rate of 1,250 gallons a minute. The deck gun’s purchase was funded by $9,200 raised at 2011’s Firemen’s Ball. The department is currently building another rural wildland fire engine.
“Every bit of money that we’ll get from the fundraising goes to purchase additional equipment and supplies that our budgets wouldn’t allow us to purchase otherwise,” Eggar said of the upcoming ball.
Engine “17-7” can carry five firefighters and also carries all of the department’s rescue equipment. The $274,000 engine was acquired via a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with the local fire department providing 5 percent in matching funds.
“17-1” is a Roosevelt County vehicle and was purchased using the county’s truck replacement rotation, along with grant funds, a portion of the department’s operating budget and additional fundraising.
In 2008, the department added “Engine 8,” a 2008 Smeal pumper. This addition to the department’s fleet of firefighting vehicles greatly increased the effectiveness in fighting structure fires in the community. It is the first one out of the fire hall to a city structure fire.
“Engine 8” replaced “Engine 56,” a 1956 Ford American LaFrance that has been retired. The fire department plans to loan “Engine 56” to the Wolf Point Area Historical Society Museum for display. Also available to respond to city structure fires are “Engine 91,” a 1991 Pierce, and “Engine 74,” a 1974 Pierce. Typically, these city pumpers are replaced every 17 to 18 years.
In addition to “17-1,” the department has four more rural wildland firefighting rigs, “17-2,” “17-3,” “17-5” and “17-6.” The department’s 4,400-gallon tender, “17-4,” is used to provide additional water to the wildland fire engines. “17-7,” the department’s rescue truck, rounds out the fleet. Built on a non-operational pumper chassis, it is equipped with vehicle extrication and scene lighting equipment and is mostly used for hauling supplies.