Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Answering the call to serve


April 26, 2018

Courtesy photo

Firefighters from Moose Lake Fire and Rescue and the Kettle River Fire Department train to douse a propane tank fire in 2016.

An elderly man fell and broke his hip in mid-April. First responders came to help lift the man onto the stretcher brought by the ambulance.

When the ambulance is called, the first responders come to provide whatever help is needed," explained Osten Berg, vice-chair of the Moose Lake Area Fire Protection District board. "They carry equipment and may be specifically tasked to help with the patient."

Berg was once the chief of the Moose Lake Fire Department and was instrumental in forming the Moose Lake Fire Protection District back in the 1990s. The district consists of the City of Moose Lake and Moose Lake Township. It is a taxing district, where residents and businesses pay for fire protection in their property taxes.

The district provides fire protection to the east side of Silver Township, located west of Moose Lake, and Windemere Township through contracts. A board of directors operates the fire protection district, with the fire department operating at the direction of the board.

Right now, we have 25 people on the fire department," said Berg. "That includes both men and women. There are 17 that are active. We can have up to 35 members.

"We need more firefighters. We welcome people from outlying areas as well as those from in the city or township. People from Silver and Windemere Township are welcome to join the department."

One of the benefits of joining the fire department is a retirement plan after serving for 20 years.

"To earn that retirement, you are required to attend the meetings and trainings and respond to calls," said Berg. "We provide all of the training. The investment in the firefighters comes to $7,800 over the course of his or her time on the department."

It is not only the training that the district invests in, it is the equipment.

"We purchase the highest quality equipment for our personnel," Berg said. "We spend about $4,000 per person. We are very concerned about our people. That's why we recently purchased a $7,500 washing machine to wash the gear to protect our people from carcinogens that they pick up in a fire."

The Moose Lake Fire Department also rescues people in the area, something that nearby fire departments do not do, said Berg.

"We have a specialized truck that has all of the equipment for rescues," he said. "The truck with the Hurst system alone was about $400,000. We also have an ATV, snowmobile and Zodiac boat that we use in rescues, as well as cold-water emersion suits. We serve the area with our rescue services. Our people help other people get out of a bad situation.

"Rescue training is another step that requires a lot of training and a lot of equipment."

The Moose Lake Fire Department helps other fire departments.

"We have a mutual aid agreement with the other departments in the area, and an automatic mutual aid agreement with the Kettle River Fire Department," Berg explained. "If there is a call in Kettle River, we respond along with that fire department. We help each other out."

"Members and equipment from the Moose Lake Fire Department can be seen in the community and area communities in parades and many other community-based programs," said Berg.

"You will see the firefighters in the Fourth of July parade, holding back the crowds before the stampede at Agate Days, at Mugs and Hugs and other events. The firefighters take fire trucks to the school during Fire Prevention Week and show the kids what they do."

The firefighters are paid for serving.

We are a paid on-call department," said Berg. "The firefighters are paid an hourly rate for responding to calls. If you are an active member of the department, you get a nice check every six months."

Courtesy photo

A lucky girl rides in the fire truck during the Fourth of July parade in 2016.

There are perks to being a firefighter that money can't buy.

"There is nothing like a hug when you have extricated a child from a vehicle," said Berg. "Nothing beats the satisfaction of helping people. You can't buy that; you can't find it anywhere. It's helping your fellow man. It takes a special person to do that."

are available on the fire district's website: The applications are due in mid-May.

Interested applicants and their families are invited to the Emergency Response Center on Highway 73 on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m. for a tour.

"We will take them around and show them the equipment," said Berg. "We are a small progressive fire department. We want to make them understand what they are doing."


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