Townships Hammering Out Next Contract With BDFD

(Town of Beaver Dam) The five townships that contract services with the city of Beaver Dam Fire Department are in the process of hammering out their next contract, if there is one. The towns of Beaver Dam, Calamus, Lowell, Westford and Trenton make up the Beaver Dam Community Fire and Rescue Association.

The townships are in the final year of a five-year contract with the city, which took months to hammer out before it was eventually approved in early 2017. John Kraus Jr with the rural fire group says after this contract ends (quote) “everything is on the table” and that includes the association going on without the city. The current contract with Beaver Dam Fire establishes costs based on each municipality’s equalized value for fire protection while ambulance service is charged based on each response.

The proposed contract reportedly has both fire and ambulance calculated on equalized value, which Kraus says would (quote) “substantially” increase costs. The Town of Beaver Dam would be impacted the most as it represents 64-percent of the agreement and the entire township is under contract with the city. For largely geographic reasons, portions of other townships partner with other agencies. 

City of Beaver Dam voters recently approved a referendum to hire six new paramedic-firefighters and those new costs are part of the proposed contract. It is speculated that the Town of Beaver Dam may have to go to referendum to cover the proposed contract increase. The rural group does own a fire engine, water tender and a brush truck but does not have a facility. If the rural group establishes their own entity other challenges include assembling volunteer staff and paid leadership, training personnel and acquiring personal protective equipment and other apparatus.

Town of Beaver Dam resident Alan Mannel, who is the city of Beaver Dam fire chief until his retirement this Friday, says there’s a lot more to a quality fire department than finding a station and equipment. With agencies across the country focused on consolidation, Mannel says if the rural fire group goes it alone, he would be concerned for the safety of his family, friends and neighbors.

The Town of Beaver Dam has the item on their monthly agenda for discussion Tuesday evening while the Calamus Town Board is expected to discuss the matter Wednesday night.