St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cushing Fire Department History Project

I have started to work on a history of the Cushing Fire Department--to be 50 years old in 2013.   Here is some information from an interview with Bud Larson a few years ago.  He passed away since I talked to him.

    I can tell you the story of the fire dept.  Walter Johnson, Curtiss father, the house burned down.  He called luck fire dept.  They charged Sterling $1200 to come out and watch the house burn down—mostly burned by the time they arrived.  Dad was really angry at them.  Charge $1200 for getting there to watch the building at the end of burning down.  Dad was really storming about it.  Dad was the town chairman of Sterling then.  I told Dad “why don’t you have a meeting with the people in Sterling—we could run a fire department.”  “Oh no, there isn’t enough of a crew here to run one.”  “Well you can at least try” I said.  There was a meeting and the people voted almost 100% in favor after they heard the story of what it cost for Walter Larson’s fire.

   So Sterling went ahead.  The crazy thing is that Bill Skow built the fire truck for $1600, only just $400 more than the bill from Luck of $1200.  So Dad said we will put up the building and so Sterling started the building.  After it was going, then some of us in Laketown went to the town meeting and agreed to take 2 miles of Laketown into the Cushing fire department. That went along for many years and then they decided to go clear east to Danny Jensen’s.  They wanted to come in so they could get closer service. Then the County came along and said that since we fire departments were dividing up territories we should figure it out.  So now we have a territory all the way south to I, north to the Burnett Co line and all of Sterling.   There is a mutual agreement with all the other fire departments that for major fires we all help out.

    The fire department started with the fire truck Bill Skow built for us and a water tank truck put together.  Later we got more equipment, vehicles, and EMT and first responders.  Then we had to build a bigger fire department. We bought from Nick.  Just a year ago there was a wing for meetings and for smaller vehicles.

Last year there were 147 ambulance runs.  There is more activity on that than fire.

    Bud Jensen was first fire chief.  Then the guy who bought out Nickie was chief for a while.  Then Larry got it.  Merle was voted in after Larry resigned.  Merle is now.  It is a lot of work to keep everything working.  I am still considered on the department.  I was on because of Dad—I was 18 then.  Louie Baker, Bud Jensen, Ed Olsen, Bud, -- about 8 of us originals.  They gave me a plaque for 40 years.  (I am 76)

    Skow then went on to build one for other towns too.  It was a good truck  Until 2 years ago it was around—finally they sold it for scrap.  The main fire truck now is $170,000.  Taxes come from ¾ of Laketown and Sterling. Eureka buys into it each year.  We have more firemen in Cushing than most places around – we have 30 now and most are young and first responders too.  There were 6 who came from me when I had heart problems. 

    I have 11 stents and a 4-way bypass.    Keeps me from doing much with the fire department anymore.