A gift to a fire department in need

Port Washington to donate old pumper truck to Madeline Island department that lost vehicles in explosion, fire that leveled station last month

THE PORT WASHINGTON Fire Department received its new pumper truck on Monday, and department officials (from left) Deputy Chief Glenn Doers, Chief Mark Mitchell and Assistant Chief Steve Schmidt posed with both the new vehicle (right) and the 1986 truck it is replacing. The Common Council agreed last week to donate the old pumper truck to the Madeline Island fire department, which lost all its equipment in an explosion and fire last month. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The fire department on Madeline Island in northern Wisconsin is getting a new tanker truck, courtesy of the Port Washington Fire Department.

It’s a much-needed donation approved last week by the Port Washington Common Council.

The Madeline Island department suffered a “catastrophic loss” when an explosion and subsequent fire in early March destroyed the fire station and all the equipment stored there, Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said.

“Everything’s gone — the turnout gear, radios, trucks,” Mitchell said.

So the Port fire department, which picked up its new tanker truck on Monday, offered to help by donating its 1986 tanker truck rather than sell it at auction.

“There’s a lot of life left in the transmission,” Mitchell said, estimating the department might have been able to get $4,000 for the old truck.

Port Washington Mayor Marty Becker agreed, saying, “It’s a good thing for us to do. The amount of money we would get for it is negligible (compared to) the good we can do.”

Mitchell said the Madeline Island department was decimated after the roof of the station collapsed due to the weight of snow on the roof. The collapse, he said, dislodged the gas line, causing the explosion and fire.

“By the time they (firefighters) got there, everything was lost,” Mitchell said. 

“Next to losing someone, this is a fire chief’s worst nightmare.”

Mitchell told the Common Council that while insurance will cover the cost of replacing much of the equipment, it will take time for that to occur.

Tanker trucks in particular are important to the Madeline Island department, he added.

“Being an island, they don’t have any fire hydrants,” Mitchell said. “They need tanker trucks. Their whole life up there is hauling water.”

  Aldermen asked whether the Madeline Island department would accept the donation.

“They would love to have it,” Mitchell said.

The Port Department will drive the truck to Wausau — about the halfway point between the two communities — to present the truck to Madeline Island firefighters on Sunday, April 28, he said.

“It’s going to the perfect place,” Mitchell said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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