Water, safety concerns addressed by board
By Jane Myhra
An update on a recent structure fire was presented to the Manawa Fire Board at its April 13 meeting.
A total of 21 vehicles and 61 firefighters from nine fire departments responded to the April 6 fire west of Manawa, according to Fire Chief Rob Rosenau.
He was thankful for the mutual aid response.
“It went to a third alarm,” Rosenau said.
Access was the biggest problem with the April 6 fire call.
“The Manawa and Marion departments had 3,000 feet of hoses stretched out to reach the fire,” Rosenau said.
The Manawa Rural Fire Department’s handling of the fire brought some questions and concerns from residents, which were presented by board member John Smith.
The first concern was the firefighters were not “being safe” driving to the scene.
Rosenau said the personal vehicles were required to have lights and sirens, and they must obey traffic laws, including the speed limit. He has discussed this with his firefighters and will address it again.
“If someone is doing something wrong, I need names,” Rosenau said.
Smith said he received complaints that “the sirens were going all night” as tankers transported water to the fire scene.
According to Rosenau, he made “a judgment call to cut the sirens” at about 10 or 10:30 p.m. unless the emergency vehicle needed to “ask for the right of way.”
“If your house was on fire, you would want them to have sirens,” said Board President Mary Eck.
According to Smith, the MRFD’s use of water over burdened the city’s water, and two wells needed to be shut down.
“This causes concern for the city with other users,” Smith said. “Why can’t the new pumps take the river water?”
The pumps cannot filter water at the volume needed for a big fire, according to board member Randy Elsner.
“When we used river water, we spent more money on pump replacement,” Rosenau said.
The fire chief noted the MRFD pays annually for its use of city water, and the city workers are notified when a certain limit is reached.
In other business, the fire/ambulance board approved $35 ambulance billing for lift assists. Ambulance Director Andy Werth said this amount will help cover the cost of responding to the call.
The board also discussed designating two spots for EMS behind the municipal building, and agreed to change the door codes on the building.