A new piece of technology is helping to keep volunteer firefighters at the Stoddard-Bergen Volunteer Fire Department safe while also improving response times.
Volunteer firefighters make sacrifices every day to keep their community safe. It is the generosity of one woman that reminds those at the Stoddard-Bergen Volunteer Fire Department that their work does not go unnoticed.
Paula Johnson lives in the Chippewa Valley. She first saw the Northern Star being used in the Eau Claire Fire Department.
The Northern Star is a directional guidance system that attaches to a firefighter's mask to aid in finding their way around structures in low visibility. Each direction blinks its own color.
Johnson immediately thought of the Stoddard-Bergen Volunteer Fire Department. She purchased 25 Northern Stars, one for each firefighter at the station.
"To have somebody go above and beyond--and we didn't even do anything other than be part of this organization--was powerful," said Joe Pfaff, Fire Chief for the Stoddard-Bergen Volunteer Fire Department. "It was a moving experience for a lot of people down at the station just knowing that somebody on the outside is watching and really is appreciative of what we do for them."
According to the National Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), disorientation is one of the most common factors in firefighter deaths in the line-of-duty.
The volunteer firefighters of the Stoddard-Bergen Volunteer Fire Department have not used their Northern Stars in an active fire yet, but from training, they say the new equipment makes a big difference.
The total donation amounted to $4,000.