Meet Waupaca’s new fire chief
By Robert Cloud
Being a fire chief is sort of a family tradition for Jerry Deuman.
When asked why he joined the Waupaca Area Fire District, Deuman replied, “I was talked into it by my father-in-law.”
Deuman’s father-in-law, Lee Thompson, served as Waupaca’s fire chief for nearly 35 years.
Thompson stepped down 13 years ago when Jeff Olson took his place. Olson retired at the beginning of 2016.
The Fire Commission selected Deuman as the new fire chief on Feb. 1.
Deuman joined the force in October 1994 and has been first assistant chief for three years.
“Ever since I got on the department, I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and the excitement of the calls,” Deuman said.
Deuman said training is an ongoing process as new firefighting methods and new technology are developed.
“I’ve had firefighter training, driver-operator training, aerial operator training and administrative officer training,” Deuman said.
He noted that the training helps him make the right choices at the scene of a fire.
Deuman has also had fire inspector training.
“We inspect buildings for exit lights and to make sure the emergency lights are working. Inspector training is for fire prevention,” he said.
Deuman said Fox Valley Technical College will offer a fire inspection class to Waupaca County firefighters. The class will focus on new regulations and building codes pertaining to fire safety.
“At least 12 people from Waupaca will be in the class,” Deuman said.
Deuman said the biggest changes he sees in firefighting involves the new technology.
The state is offering software to standardize fire reports. That system may be implemented this year in Waupaca.
In July 2014, Waupaca County implemented the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System.
“It’s a pre-plan for handling larger incidents,” Deuman said. “We don’t have to call out for specific departments. We call out a specific box number and specific departments are already listed under that number.”
Unlike some small city fire departments, Deuman said the Waupaca Area Fire District has been able to maintain a trained and active volunteer force.
“We have a great group of guys who really care,” Deuman said. “A lot of younger members are getting involved in the fire prevention programs and the safety training.”
A 1984 Waupaca High School graduate, Deuman has worked at the Waupaca Foundry for 12 years. He is head of the electrical department at Plant 2 and belongs to the foundry’s Emergency Response Team.