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Firefighters nearly done with Jaws of Life fundraising efforts

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Don Niles of Wadena, left, and Al Doty of Royalton, Minn. view Jaws of Life equipment presented by Jason Wright of the Wadena Fire Department during the TCHC Block Party July 17. Firefighter Brent Johnson (not pictured) said July 25 the fire department is trying to raise $17,000 for new Jaws of Life equipment, and as of that day they raised $14,011 with the hope to get $2,989 in time to order in August.

The Wadena Fire Department is going for a final fundraising push in the hopes of ordering new Jaws of Life equipment in time for the fire department's October open house.

Firefighter Brent Johnson said Wednesday the fire department needs to raise $2,989 more to purchase new Jaws of Life equipment. He also said the community and businesses have been great with donations, and they have raised $14,011 so far of the estimated $17,000 the fire department needs to come up with.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," Johnson said.

The new equipment is estimated to cost around $32,000. The city of Wadena budgeted $15,000 to go to the costs, and the fire department has been applying for grants and soliciting donations for the difference.

Fire Chief Dean Uselman said it is typical for small fire departments to do fundraisers to provide equipment, and communities of Wadena's size don't have the tax base to pay for expensive equipment with public funds.

Johnson said the current Jaws of Life equipment is still functional, but outdated.

"The new cars are made out of steel alloys that our old set will no longer cut through," Johnson said. "The new sets have blades that are designed for them."

He said the new set will be in the south fire hall and the old set will still be used and kept in the old fire hall.

Johnson also said two sets of Jaws would be beneficial in situations such as multiple-vehicle accidents.

Johnson added that they would like to get the fundraising finished Aug. 15, get the bid process going later that month, give time for the fire department to train with the equipment in September and have it ready to demonstrate at the fall open house.

Firefighter Diggy Lorentz, the main organizer for the Oct. 8 open house, said Johnson has been working hard on the fundraising.

For more information on the Wadena Fire Department's fundraiser, call 218-631-7710.