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Portage Fire Chief visits exchange club

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on March 11, 2015 with No Comments

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Portage Exchange Club President Mike Lemond and Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer at the Thursday meeting of the Exchange Club at Miller's Senior Living

The members of the Portage Exchange Club welcomed Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer as guest speaker at their last meeting in February.

Although the club usually meets at 7 a.m. most Wednesdays, they have a Thursday noon meeting during the fourth week of the month.  All meetings are held in the community room at Miller’s Senior Living on Lute Road in Portage.

Portage Exchange Club President Mike Lemond and Portage Fire Chief Tom Fieffer at the Thursday meeting of the Exchange Club at Miller's Senior Living

Often, a community leader will be invited to the meeting as guest speaker. The Portage Fire Chief is one of the favorite speakers because he always has so much good information to share and so much enthusiasm for his job and for the city of Portage.

At this meeting, he shared some news about the proposed new fire station. In order to cut almost a million dollars from the project, the plans have been changed including changing the color of the brick from red to tan and losing some of the stone work on the outside of the building, cutting some storage areas and changing the living quarters for the firefighters from 11rooms to seven.

The funding for the project has also changed. The Redevelopment Commission started the project and now the City Council is working on funding it. The Council plans to take out a General Obligation Bond, which is how the city originally funded Fire Station 1. If you are a taxpayer living in the city of Portage, you can help by signing a petition stating your agreement with this. Petition forms can be singed at Station 1 between the hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Fieffer told the club that the Portage Fire Department was rated in November by the Insurance Service Office.  Presently, Portage’s rating is a 4 on a scale of 1 through 9, with nine being the lowest. Because of some restructuring, minimum staffing for the department has gone from 13 to 15 throughout the city.

“We expect to see some positive changes in our rating,” Fieffer said.  “A 2 would put us in an elite position. No department in Porter County has a 2 at this time.”

Fieffer also emphasized the importance of having carbon monoxide monitors along with fire detectors in every home.

“Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas. It’s the off gas of incomplete combustion. So it can come from your furnace, clothes dryer, stove, water heater … anything that burns fuel,” he said.

“This is the worst time of the year for carbon monoxide deaths because our houses are closed up most of the time, which allows the gas to build up. If you don’t have one, you need to get a monitor and make sure your appliances are properly maintained.”

The fire department recently purchased carbon monoxide detectors through a grant and now each medical bag has a detector that is never shut off.  Fieffer told of receiving a call for the paramedics to check out someone with flu-like symptoms, but when they got to the house, the detector went off, alerting them to the presence of the deadly gas.  The entire family was transported to the hospital and treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

The monitor ensured a happy ending to a situation that could have ended in tragedy.

Fieffer invited the club members and their families to come to Safety Day on May 16 at Willowcreek Middle School. Children without bike helmets can be fitted with one there, and there will be many other safety stations to teach children and adults alike about safety. States would have to contribute 10 percent of their own money to www.eduessayhelper.org match the federal funds for two years

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