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Jarden says thanks to firefighters in many ways

Two Jarden executives came bearing gifts Monday for the Cloquet Area Fire District, which spent three days putting out a fire in Jarden’s boiler house in January. CAFD firefighters worked with the company to extinguish the fire (which started slowly in a massive 40- to 50-foot pile of woodchips) in a way that wouldn’t also put the company’s Diamond Brand facility in Cloquet out of business for a significant period of time.

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Rather than simply letting the sprinklers run for days to douse the flames — an option that would have left the company with dead boilers encased in three or four feet of ice — CAFD officials worked with Jarden management to figure out a way to tackle the fire differently.

Mendy Aul, Jarden Brands vice president of global operations, said the response was “absolutely amazing.”

“We trust the fire department — they’re the experts,” she said. “They contained the fire quickly, made sure everyone was safe, then we worked together to come up with a thoughtful way to put the fire out.”

It was a learning experience, Schroeder said, but one with a happy ending. Jarden was able to resume normal operations the following Monday after safety checks, and no one from Jarden or CAFD was injured by the fire, although several CAFD staff (including Schroeder) worked more than 30 hours straight. The sheer amount of time and manpower required meant CAFD also had to call on neighboring fire departments from Esko and Carlton to help with the effort and to enable CAFD to also continue to respond to other emergency medical and fire calls.

“Part of the reason we were there for three days is because every decision we made, we had to think ‘How do we keep Jarden Brands operational?’” Schroeder explained at the time.

Aul and Chris Scherzinger, president and CEO of Jarden Leisure and Entertainment, presented CAFD officials with gifts including dozens of small kitchen appliances for the district’s three fire stations, coolers, air purifiers plus a $10,000 check. CAFD Chief Kevin Schroeder said he will work with the fire district board to figure out the most efficient use of the monetary donation. CAFD also received 50 smoke alarms, 50 carbon monoxide alarms and more than 60 fire extinguishers from Jarden, which will be incorporated  in the public education and fire prevention program to be distributed to those in need.