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Cloquet Fire, Perch Lake Fire officially merge

With a new name, a new rig and a new Web site, it's truly a banner new year for the former Cloquet Fire Department. "It seems like we're getting with the times," Cloquet Area Fire District Captain Steve Kolodge said. After several years of talks,...

With a new name, a new rig and a new Web site, it's truly a banner new year for the former Cloquet Fire Department.

"It seems like we're getting with the times," Cloquet Area Fire District Captain Steve Kolodge said.

After several years of talks, the Cloquet Fire Department and Perch Lake Fire Department began the process of merging last year and as of Jan. 1 they are now the Cloquet Area Fire District.

Their goal is to provide the best possible service in the most economically responsible manner, according to a previous statement made by District Fire Chief Jim Langenbrunner.

As part of forming the district, the entity is no longer governed by the cities involved. Instead, a Fire District Board made up of five people will oversee operations of the 21 full-time and approximately 15 paid on-call members who now respond together to emergencies in northeastern Carlton County and parts of southern St. Louis County. They have their own budget, which comes in part from the cities, and the hope is that consolidating operations will eventually save significant money.

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Despite many administrative changes, service in the district should remain the same for all emergency services, from calls due to fire, medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents and rescue, Langenbrunner said.

Community members will find new access to information about the district and emergency services at the district's new Web site, www.cloquetareafiredistrict.com , which has been up and running since shortly after the new year.

The site holds the history of both departments, information about district board members, employment information and a training and incident blog that is updated frequently.

"We had our site up and running in no time," Kolodge said. "We're so far so good with it."

Also ready to roll for the district is a new rig deemed Rescue 1, which was put into service on Jan. 1. Rescue 1 is a designated heavy rescue vehicle, and currently the only vehicle of its kind in Carlton County. The vehicle is equipped to handle all types of rescue-related incidents including ice/water rescue, vehicle extrication and industrial rescue, confined space rescue and high or low angle rescue.

"It's a very specialized warehouse on wheels," Kolodge said. "We can use it in any kind of rescue and it's ready to go when a call comes in. Before, we'd have equipment lying around and would have to load it onto a truck depending on the type of situation."

The rig, ordered last year, has an estimated value of $500,000, including the equipment loaded onto it, according to Kolodge.

Part of the funds for the vehicle's equipment and the truck are coming from a recently announced $58,292 grant awarded by the Department of Homeland Security's Assistance to Firefighters program.

Related Topics: CLOQUETFIRES
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