The St. Regis Volunteer Fire Department is now the proud owner of a new water tender. It replaces an old tender, “that leaked more than it held,” said Assistant Fire Chief Kat Kittridge. The tactical tender brings water to fire trucks in the field that are engaged on a fire line. Plus they are equipped with other fire and medical equipment. The department also received new extrication gear, including the “Jaws of Life” and a “ram” extrication tool. This tool will be gifted to the Superior Volunteer Fire Department.
The volunteer crew in St. Regis paid for the new truck using funds earned in the summer fighting wildland fires through a contract with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). By using the departments own equipment, they were able to get the full worth of pay for them through DNRC. The tender cost approximately $120,000.
“Without the help and support of our firefighters, our community would be left with higher taxes and subpar equipment,” Kittridge said. “We here at the department are proud to have committed volunteers who are willing to help fund new equipment that keeps our community at an advantage when it’s needed the most. Our community members already have high enough taxes with so many other needs in our county. Being able to support our area without raising taxes will undoubtedly give our locals some sense of comfort.”
Kittridge has been with the department for 14 years and works her “regular job” at Java Junction. If there’s a closed sign on the coffee hut, most of her customers know she is out on a call.
Like most of the department volunteers, she also holds various certifications which includes engine and crew boss and medical. Fire Chief, Jerry Dockter, has been at the helm for years and works for the Department of Transportation. Along with Kevin Magnahan, who has been with the department for 10 years; Chuck Anderson, who has been there seven years; and Clint Wolff, who has volunteered for three years.
Thomas Spencer, who is Kat’s oldest son, has been with the department for eight years. He started at age 16 as a junior firefighter and is also a school teacher, along with Zack Lott, and Tyler Cheesman. Both Cheesman and Lott, as well as Theresa Lombardi, Mark Boyett, and Art Drobney had been there for one year. Steve Ahern has two years under his belt.
In addition to going out on calls, there is work to be done at the station including maintenance and paperwork. Calls come in 24 hours a day and some can turn into many hours. Especially those concerning medical and fire hazmat wrecks on Interstate 90, which can send crews out for up to 10 hours. Then there’s training, certifications and dealing with insurance companies. Companies that are notorious for giving them the run-around.
“We try to do our best to be there when others have a bad day. Despite not getting paid it does help build a good foundation for team work and keeping ourselves sharp for whatever the next call may be,” Kittridge said. “Doing this job is the epitome of wanting to help others, it’s not to make money. This is an old world value that too many people have lost sight of. I’m proud to be a part of doing what needs to be done for everybody’s sake.”