Village of Plover Fire Department
“The Growth of a Community Service”
1949 to 2013
By: Fire Chief, Tim Kluck, December 2013
Prior to 1949, an all volunteer department protected the citizens of Plover. In the spring 1949,the Charter members of the Town of Plover Fire Department began to organize and provide fire services with one fire truck. These original members included; Lloyd Phelps, Don Mansavage, Ed Stump, and Ray Tomczak.
On July 5, 1951, the Village of Plover Fire Department became an official volunteer fire department within Portage County and the State of Wisconsin. The department was located at the intersection of Post Road and Willow Drive. Fire Chief Lloyd Phelps was responsible for the department oversight. Chief Phelps served the department in the role of Fire Chief until 1966. In early 1952 an alerting siren was purchased and affixed to a pole at the department to assist firefighters in responding to incidents.
May 9, 1957, the department received a 1949 Packard combination hearse and ambulance which was purchased in Elkhorn, WI. The cost of the ambulance was $800.00. In July 1957, an ambulance committee was formed to discuss various aspects of the operation of the ambulance. The cost for the ambulance in 1957 was $5.00, and 10 cents per/mile for Plover residents. 1958 saw the addition of a resuscitator for the ambulance personnel to use (from funds donated from the 9th Annual Fireman’s Festival).
In the early 1960’s, the department began providing contract fire services for a portion of the Town of Grant. This service was in addition to already existing contract services to the Town of Plover, Town of Buena Vista and the Town of Stockton. In 1966, Fire Chief Glen Sterling became responsible for department oversight. Chief Sterling served the department as Fire Chief until 1974. 1968 saw the end to ambulance service provided by the department due to increasing state requirements and lack of funding issues.
In 1974, the department selected Fire Chief Joe Radomski to head up the organization. Throughout the period of the 70’s, the department continued to experience significant growth, increased response to incidents and increased training requirements. Fire Chief Joe Radomski and department members continued to upgrade many services and equipment throughout this period including the addition of portable radios. On Saturday, October 4, 1975, the department took delivery of a new engine which replaced the 1952 model pumper. The new engine had a 750 gallon a minute pump. The department also took delivery of a new brush truck this same year. This brought the total number of apparatus to five trucks (two engines, two tankers and one brush unit). In late 1978, the department began making plans to move into the new municipal center which was to be built over the next few years.
On October 18, 1980, the department participated in the dedication of the new municipal center, which included general Village offices, an activity center and Police and Fire Department office space. The new facility provided the department with additional space for fire trucks as the department continued to grow and expand its services.
April 1983, saw the development of a 1st Responder emergency medical services program for the department. Fourteen (14) firefighters and police officers participated in training. On September 13, 1984 the department began providing 1st Responder services with sixteen (16) members. These members responded to a total of 53 incidents in their first year of existence. In 2007 the Department’s 1st Responder program responded to a total of 706 incidents.
A new fire engine was added to the Department on November 17, 1983. The 1,000 gallon per minute engine holds 750 gallons of water and was built by Gruman Mfg., of Roanoke, Va. Chief Radomski placed the unit in service within one week of deliver, following extensive training of Fire Department staff.
Joe Radomski became the first full-time paid Fire Chief for the Village of Plover on January 1, 1984. The Village Board decision to make the position full-time was based on the “increasing number of fire inspections necessary, size of the department and to provide greater efficiency, according to George Bauman, Village operations director”. Prior to this time, the position was part-time. The department continued to upgrade services provided, adding Hazardous Material Level “B” Technicians and performing UST/AST Tank Inspections.
Things continued to develop and grow the department moved into the 90’s. The addition of a Snorkel aerial ladder apparatus in 1991 and the “Jaws of Life” extrication tools brought the total number of apparatus to ten (three engines, three tankers, one wildland brush, one rescue, one HazMat, and one snorkel). A second full-time position was added to the department in June 1991, when Assistant Fire Chief, Jeff Berry was hired.
The Village of Plover created a Police & Fire Commission in 1992, as called for by Wisconsin State Statutes (communities whose population exceeds 5,500 are required to create a Police & Fire Commission). In December, 1992, the department received the Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating of 3 for the Village of Plover.
In 1994, the 1st Responder program began to utilize defibrillation units for cardiac incidents. Also in 1994, Assistant Fire Chief, Jeff Berry resigned from Department to accept the position of Fire Chief with the City of Waupun.
In 1996, the 1st Responder program responded to a total of 260 incidents and in July of that same year, the Village hired Dale Garski, who was hired as a full-time Captain.
Entering the 21st century, several significant changes occurred in the department. Fire Chief Joe Radomski retired from the Department in December 2003, following his tenure of 29 years as Fire Chief. Chief Radomski is credited with significantly developing the department into one of the finest combination (i.e. career/paid-on-call) fire departments in the State of Wisconsin. Chief Radomski also served as President of the Wisconsin State Fire Chief’s Association during the 90’s.
On April 30, 2004, Fire Chief, Tim Kluck assumed the position of Fire Chief, representing the second person to serve as Fire Chief for the Village and its service area. Chief Kluck previously was the Fire Chief for the City of Antigo from 1996-2004. Prior to that he was a Firefighter/EMT for the City of Marshfield from 1984-1996. Chief Kluck began his fire career as a volunteer firefighter for the Town of Hull Fire Department from 1979-1984.
In March, 2005 Chief Kluck fostered development of an automatic-aid agreement between the Village of Plover and Whiting, which calls for each municipality to immediately send the other department one engine and a minimum of six (6) firefighters to all structure fires. This agreement ensures that additional personnel will be on-scene to fight fires immediately and was considered a vital safety issue for both communities. This agreement initially grew out of the continued Village growth and development of the Crossroads Commons and Village Park at Plover developments.
In December 31, 2006 the Department discontinued providing hazardous material level “B” coverage to Portage County, due to significant increase in training requirements for a service that is provided only a few times each year. In 2006, the department joined the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS), Wisconsin Division 110, Portage County. MABAS provides state wide mutual aid to all participating divisions and mutual aid on a local basis from all participating Portage County Fire Departments.
In December 31, 2007 the Town of Stockton ended its contract with the Village to provide fire protection service to the Town. The Town of Stockton created its own Fire Department and began providing service on January 1, 2008. Chief Kluck was instrumental in assisting the Town as it sought to develop its own Fire Department. In the 2007 Annual Report to the Police & Fire Commission, Chief Kluck reported that the Fire Department responded to 921 incidents. Of this total, 706 were 1st Responder/EMT incidents, and 215 were fire/rescue related.
In August 2008, the Village of Plover and the Village of Whiting began the Portage County Metropolitan Fire District (METRO). This new automatic-aid agreement provides for joint response from both departments to all types of fire, rescue and emergency medical service incidents in either jurisdiction. The intergovernmental agreement was signed on August 12, 2008.
In September 2009 the City of Stevens Point took delivery of a new 100’ aerial ladder platform apparatus. The new aerial platform was purchased jointly between both municipalities following the development of an intergovernmental agreement. The agreement provides for immediate response by the City to the Village of Plover through our METRO Agreement. The agreement will also provide for the joint purchase of a new aerial apparatus for the Village of Plover over the next ten (10) year period. At this point, the new Plover apparatus shall respond immediately into the City of Stevens Point.
In December 2010, Fire Captain Dale Garski retired from the department following twenty (20) years of service. On January 10, 2011, newly hired Assistant Fire Chief, Mark Deaver began his full-time employment with the department.
On February 9, 2011, the City of Stevens Point officially joined the METRO Fire District. METRO Fire District now provides combined fire/rescue services to over 40,000 citizens of the City of Stevens Point, Village of Plover and Village of Whiting. The same concept of a three plus one response (i.e. 3-engine companies, 1-truck company) is utilized in the new METRO Fire District. The stricken community is responsible for the initial response of two (2) companies and the other two communities provide one company each. The METRO Agreement additionally provides for annual joint training a minimum of six (6) times per year.
In April 2011 the Village of Plover and Village of Whiting hired RW Management Group, Inc., Menasha, WI to conduct a fire department consolidation study on behalf of the communities. The emphasis for the study came out of the two fire departments excellent working relationship over the past seven years and both Fire Chief’s recommendation to investigate the potential for consolidation.
As the Village of Plover Fire department continues looking forward, our number one goal is to ensure that we continue to provide the highest level of service to our customers at the most affordable cost. We believe we have made great strides in achieving this goal through the development and implementation of the new METRO Fire District and joint aerial agreement.
On January 1, 2012, the Village of Whiting hired Fire Chief, Tim Kluck to serve as the interim fire chief for the Whiting Fire & Rescue Department. Chief Kluck provided the necessary management, supervision and leadership to the department throughout 2012. In mid 2012, the Village of Whiting entered discussions with the Village of Plover related to the possibility of contracting fire, rescue and emergency medical services. In November 2012, the Village of Whiting agreed to join the Village of Plover contract.
On January 1, 2013, the Plover Fire/EMS Department began providing services from a two station deployment system following the new contract agreement with the Village of Whiting. Station # 1 is located at 2400 Post Road, Plover while Station# 2 (i.e. former WFRD) is located at 3600 Water Street, Stevens Point. Station # 2 and its apparatus remain under Village of Whiting ownership as part of the agreement. All new apparatus and equipment purchased from this point forward shall be owned and operated by the Village of Plover. The department interviewed and hired sixteen (16) former Whiting Fire & Rescue Department (WFRD) members. Many of these new department members were immediately assigned to Station # 2. Throughout 2013 our officers, firefighters and EMT’s experienced many changes in standard operating procedures, policies, protocols and training based upon the department expansion. An organizational restructure of officer positions was developed, finalized and implemented in March 2013.
In May 2013, the department began operating an emergency medical responder (EMR) vehicle through a lease agreement with Mark Toyota Scion of Plover. The Toyota 4-Runner is equipped with all the necessary emergency medical services equipment and is currently operated by one of the assigned EMT members. Through this agreement our members have the capability of responding in a department operated vehicle equipped with emergency warning lights and siren.