Oversight of Town’s New Fire Department Examined

Less than a year after the Town of Nasewaupee split from the Southern Door Fire Department (SDFD) and formed its own department – Nasewaupee Fire Rescue (NFR) – the matter of whether to continue or dissolve the Fire Committee which oversees NFR has already been discussed.

Fire Committee chair Bill Krueger informed the Nasewaupee Town Board at its May meeting that those attending the last committee meeting stated they believe the committee is of great value to the new department and should continue to function.

“We do know about fire equipment and fire operations,” he said.

That opinion was echoed by NFR Chief Jacob Schartner, who stated the committee, which makes recommendations to the town board, helps brainstorm ideas related to the department, and it would be too soon to disband the committee that the majority of firefighters support having.

Town Supervisor Mark Hilsabeck, who is also a member of the five-person committee, said he has seen some duplication of what the committee and board do related to the fire department.

Hilsabeck suggested revisiting in three to six months whether to continue or disband the committee.

“I think there are some things that are getting lost in the translation from the committee to the board,” he said. “Some of them I think are kind of important.”

Town Supervisor Jill Lau said there is a communication problem related to the fire department when the chief or assistant chief is present for a committee meeting, but not a board meeting, to answer questions.

“If the chief or assistant chief have an issue attending two meetings, then I don’t know that the Fire Committee makes sense to me,” she said. “I feel as though they go to the Fire Committee [meeting], but then when we have questions – because we have to make the final decision – we don’t have anybody here that can work us through that answer.”

Krueger agreed with board members who called for the chief or assistant chief to be at their meetings.

“We’ll make sure that happens, so that won’t be a problem,” he said.

Town Supervisor Tim Smith, who is also on the committee, said he has been “frustrated at times on the Fire Committee and then having to basically redo things.”

“We’ve talked to the firefighters about that, and they understood the frustration, but their concern was they’re a brand new department and they felt it was too early to dissolve the committee right now,” he said. “They did agree that once we get our rules and responsibilities aligned that maybe it would work more efficiently, and maybe [the committee could meet] every other month instead of every month.”

When Nasewaupee belonged to the SDFD, it was part of an eight-member fire board, which met monthly and had two members from each of the then-four municipalities on the board.