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Firefighters/Paramedics on cover

Bottom Row, left to right (Fronl)


Brian Jnocelda, Jonathon Novak, Jeff Moericke,
Brendon McDaniel, Eric Bigelow, Ray Mohr, Chad
Gerrits, Heath Lietzan-Buechel, Cody Foss, Joe Re-
sch, Travis Teesch, Nick Ziegler.
Top Row, left to right (Back)
Josh Karl , Justin Uitenbroek, Bill Vanden Heuvel,
Eric Driessen, Brad Van Asten, Scot Vanden Heuvel,
Mike Prock, Paul Hi11e, Don Grindheim, Craig
Schneider, Lonny Ziemer, Garret Dunham, Mike
Hamilton, Ryan Kussow, Jon Miller, Ryan Steffel,
Nick Bouressa.
Not Pictured. Dustin Boyarski, Kurt Vanderloop,
Alex Bain.
Photo taken at Grignon Home by Don Krueger
Through the Flames
More Than 100 Years of Courage

Kaukauna Fire Department

Carol Mainville Van Boxtel


The author would like to thank
Sue Duda, Mary Hague, John Sundc lius, Bruce Van Boxtel
For the ir assistance and support in creating th is book

Thanks to the fo llowing


retired fi refighters and riaramed ics who
shared their memories and helped w ith researching:
Jerry Kobussen. Bob Nack, Tom Roberts,
Wayne Vanevcnhovcn

A special thank you to the [()!low ing who assisted


in rev iewing and editing
Paula Davis
Dri ver Engineer Cody Foss
Assistant Fire Ch ief Chad Geffits
Assis tant Fire Chier Don Grinclheim
Pally H irte
Brian Roebke
Ass istant Fire Chier Craig Schneider
Firefighter Paramed ic Ryan Steffel

Ch ief Paul Hirte


For his assistance in resea rching materi al and
coord inating the photographs

Don Krueger
for group and firefighter/paramed ic Indiv idual photos

Lyle Hansen
For his hours spent researching photos

T roy Jansen fo r sharing his !l ither,


fo rmer Fire Chief Tom Jansen's
scrapbooks o f the K FD

A II photographs arc courtesy o f' the Kaukauna Public L ibrary


unless otherwise inclicatecl

or
T he l ist fires i n this book is based on the author's research
of documented fires and is not a comp lete l ist of'all fi res
w hich occurred in the Kaukauna Area.

20 15

o part of this publication rnay be reproducccL stored in or introduced into


any retrieval system. or trans111i11cd in any fo rm or by any means electronic.
mechanical. photocopying. recordi ng. or othe r\\'iSe. \\'ithom the prior
wrirten permission of Kauknuna Fire Dcpari mem

N. E.W. Printing Appleton. WI

II
DEDICATED TO

Past, Present and Future


Kaukauna Fire Department
Firefi ghter/ Paramedics

111
W hat is a Firefighter'?

He 's the guy next door - a man 's


man with the memory ofa little boy,
gotten over the exci temen l 0 r
engines and sirens and danger
He's a guy like you and me with
warts and worries and
unfulfilled dreams.
He's a fireman.
He puts it all on the I ine when
the bell rings.
A fireman is at once the most
fortunate and the least fortun ate
of men.
He's a man who saves li ves
because he has seen too much death.
He's a gentle man beca use he has
seen the a\.vesome power of
violence out of control.
He's responsive to a child's
laughter because hi s arms
have held too many small bodies
that will never laugh again.
He 's a man who appreciates life- hot
coffee held in numb, unbending lingers
a warn bed for bone and muscle
Compelled beyond fee ling -
The camaraderie of brave men -
The di vine peace and selfness se rvice or a job
we II done in the name of a11 men.
He doesn ' t wear buttons or wave
flags or shout obscenities
when he marches, it is to honor
a fallen comrade.
He doesn ' t preach the brotherhood or 1nan.
He lives it.

Author Unknown

iv
Table of Contents
Early Firefighting in America l
Prologue 5
Kaukauna Volunteer Fire Deptartment - Major Fires 7
First Organized Volunteer Dept. - Major Fires 15
Kaukauna Paid Volunteer Dept. - Major Fires 37
1900 - 19 19 Decade 45
Major Fires 1900-1919 52
1920-1929 Decade - Municipal Fire Dept. Established 65
Major Fires 1920- 1929 70
1930-1939 Decade 83
Major Fires 1930-1939 95
1940-1949 Decade III
Major Fires 1940-1949 I 13
1950-1959 Decade 127
Major Fires 1950-1959 130
1960-1 969 Decade 148
Major F ires 1960-1 969 150
1970-1 979 Decade 156
Major Fires 1970-1979 166
1980-1989 Decade 176
Major Fires 1980-1989 18 1
1990-1999 Decade 192
Major Fires 1990- 1999 198
2 000-2013 Decade 202
Major Fires 2000-2013 209
Kaukauna Ambulance/Paramedic T raining 2 14
A Day in the Life of a Firefi g hter Paramedic 236
Kaukauna Fire Depa11ment Commu nity Involvement Photos 247
Kaukauna Fire Department Fire Call Procedure 251
Firefighter Paramedic Cody Foss Describes 24-Hour Shift 252
New Employee Training 253
Moving Forward 254
Kaukauna Fire Department Training 260
Kaukauna Fire Department Personnel 263
Kaukauna Police and F ire Commission 268
Appendix 269
Kaukauna Fire Department Fire Chiefs 1885-Present 269
Bibliography 270
Control Fire

Fire is good. but it must SERVE:


keep it thri Iled - for if it S\\'Cl"\'C
Into freedom's open path.
what shall check its mani ac wrath?
The fear rul work or curbless llame
daut ing wide and shooting high.
it lends horror 10 the sky.
It rushes 0 11 , to WASTE. to scare.
arousing terror and despair.
and sinks al last, all spent and dead.
among the ashes it has spread.

Author Unknown
Kaukauna Times 192~

vi
Early Firefighting in America

Colonial tires were caused moslly by chimneys that threw sparks on


thatched or wood shingled roofs. Colonists follow ed European tradition when
building their settlements. Structures went up, not out and were clustered side
by side. Tighlly built colonial settlements offered protection against Indian
raids. but created severe fire hazards. J\ ft:er a major fire in 1631 Boston's Gov-
ernor John Winthrop established the first fire regulations by outlawi ng wooden
chimneys and thatched roofa.
ln 1658 when New York was sti ll New Amsterdam, principal city 01· the
Dutch Colony of the New Netherlands, a ft re brigade was organized. The mem-
bers knov.:n as "Prowlers" or "Rattle Watchers" walked the streets from 9 p.m.
until morning. They were equipped with 250 leather fire buckets sent from
Holland, grappling hooks and small ladders. Every citizen or ew Amsterdam
had to fill three buckets with water and leave them on their doo rstep after dusk .
Leather buckets were more durab le than wood, but were susceptib le to rol.
With the discovery of the rubber vulcanizing process in 1840 many vo lunteer
fire brigades switched from leather to rubber buckets.
The great fire of 1711 in Boston destroyed many buildings. including the
Town House, First Meeting House and left 110 families homeless. Aller the
tire the city appointed l 0 unpaid fire wardens. Their duties were sim ilar Lo
those of today's fire chiefs with some pol ice work added. At fires they were in
co111n1and. Fire wardens could order a bui lding to be hooked down or blow n
up. ln each ward they could order citizens to form bucket brigades. fin e anyone
,,·ho refused and arrest looters and anyone who interfered with firefighting.
By 1731 New York had grown to a city of 1.200 houses ""ith 8.628 inhab-
itants and a more reliable means of combati ng lire than bucket patrols was
needed. In 1752 insurance companies in the colon ies started to use the Fire
Mark of North American Insurance Company to iden tify insured buildings. In
the years preceding the Revo lution. insurance com panies multiplied and hun-
dreds of distinctive marks were hung outside buildings throughout America.
Fire marks served several purposes. If you subscribed to that company·s
insurance they placed a fire insurance mark on your house and ,·olunteers would
exti nguish any fire in your house. If you lacked an insurance mark. or had a
mark from a rival insurance company that company's firetighters o ften let you r
house burn down. The tire marks discouraged arsonists who set !ires ou t o r
spite by serving notice that the victim 's property would be replaced by the in-
surance company. More important as far as firefighters were concerned. the
marks ,·irtually guaranteed that they would receive a bonus for holding damage
to a minimum. Some citizens insured their businesses and homes from s~ptem­
ber through May when they needed to heat their bu ildings. A few citizens and
businesses forgot to rcnevv their pol icy and discovered that they were not cov-
ered by insurance when fire consumed their building.
Following the Ame rican Revolution the number of fires in America in-
creased. Cities continued lo bu ild upward. The tall buildings required longer
ladders and greater water pressure. neither of which was available al the start or
the 20th Century. Cities could not afford to pay firefighters nor could they af-
ford to purchase adequate lire protection equipment.
Why did men who fough t in the revo lution now volunteer fo r a dangerous
job that paid noth ing and requ ired training drills and mandatory attendance al
company meetings'? Men had the choice of either becomi ng a volunteer rire-
fighter or servi ng in the mil itia for three to five years.
Volunteer fire companies included a foreman (sim ilar to today"s chief), and
were run with discipline orticers enforcing the rules. Volunteers were fined 50
cents if they missed a meeting or drill and fined 25 cents for failing to wear
their helmet or badge to a lire. Failing to wash the rig and hose after a li re
could result in expulsion. Famous Americans who served as volunteer rirefight-
ers were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel
!\dams, Joh n Hancock. Pau l Revere. Benedict Arnold, and James Buchanan.
The lack of equ ipment and slow responses were the main cause for large
tires in many cities. Someone had to run to the fire house and ring the alarm.
The volunteers had to run to the fire house, hook up the equipment and haul the
equipment through Lhc streets LO Lhe lire.
As steam engines gained popularity, the engines grew in size and weight.
Firefighters reluctantly accepted the need for horses. Horses were stabled near
or in the firehouse. The horses were often trained to get out of their stal ls and
stand at the fron t or the apparatus when the alarn1 was sounded. However, lime
was lost getti ng the horses from the stable and hooking the horses up lo the
eq ui pment. Firefi ghters arri vi ng at a lire were often forced LO abandon trying to
save the bui lding and concen tra ted on saving adjacent buildings .
Since most cities and vi llages cou ldn't afford to pay firefi ghters or pur-
chase tire equipment. many wealthy ci tizens purchased fire equipment and do-
nated the equipment to the communiry. George Washington and Benjamin
Franklin were noted for their fire equipment donations. On a more positive side
the volunteer firefighters became the social and political hub of the city. They
enjoyed fundraising dinners and taking part in parades and city activities. This
gave the ci tizens a cha nce 10 see the fi refighters in their dist incti ve uniforms and
polished fire eq uipment. Camaraderie of early volunteer tire companies provid-
ed springboards lo belier jobs and political office. Nine mayors of New York
were elected from the volunteer fire companies. The Irish tradition in the
Ameri ca n fire service has continued for generations as fi refighters sons become
firefighters and their sons fol lowed them.
Volunteer companies developed healthy rivalries with neighboring compa-
nies and devised faster ways to get to fires, better ways to tight fires and more
highly decorated engines to outshine that of other companies.
American buildings continued to grow outward and upward. The country
was entering a new ind ustrial age and with the use of petro-chem icals. new lire

2
hazards were being created daily. Improved fire protection was needed. New
York and Boston purchased lire engines with suction from a London company.
The colonists put the engines on wheels and attached a bell to warn people to
clear the \vay. An engine cou ld prov ide water for the lire, but gelling the water
to the fire was a major problem.
The gaso line powered apparatus replaced the steamer engines and were
first used either as pumpi ng engines or as tractors to pull an engine to a fire. In
19 10 the two functions were combined, one engine propelled the truck and
drove the pump. Powerful engines were needed to conquer fire s in large bui ld-
ings and industrial complexes. Aerial ladders grew longer and water towers
offered a solution to the problem or providing large volumes or water at high
pressure for fighting fires on top noors.
America lagged behind in safety laws. Large fires in major cities killed
many people, especially in the early 19th Century when industria lization bred
sweat shops and death traps such as the Triangle Sh irtwaist Factory. The New
York fac tory burned in 19 11 , resulting in the loss o[' 146 workers.

Steamer Fire Engine

3
N

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,,"
..-. o.,.,_,_,"-""r...._...,._

Dominique Ducharme ' s homeslcacl was near the Grignon Mansion

Historic Mura l Augustin Grignon Trading with Native


Americans Hangs in the lobby or Kaukauna Post Office
Prologue
ln 1634 explorer Jean Nicolcl was the first while explorer to pass through
the Kaukauna area. He noted th!.! wati.!rfalls, lush fields and fru it trees. As a
settlement Kaukauna is the oldest settlement in Outagamie County.
From the foot of Lake Winncbngo to the lower fa ll at De Pere, a distance
of 37.5 miles. the Fox Ri ver drops abo ut 168 teet. At Ka uka una the Fox River
has a dcsccnl of slightly more than 50 reel in less than a mile. This drop affords
the largest water power of any rapids along the ri ver.
The area called "Grand Kakalin.. became a stopping point for fur traders.
In l 793 Dominique Ducharme. the county·s ftrst settler. paid t\VO barrels of rum
to the Indians for 1.280 acres or land. The land was located on both sides of the
Fox River near the Kaukauna Rapids. Ducharme began trading with the l ,500
Menomi nee, Stockbridge and Chippewa Indians who lived on the south side of
the ri ver known as Stalesburg and later Ledyard.
ln 18 16 Augustin Gri gnon purchased land from Dominique Ducharn1e and
buil t a gri st mill on land that wou ld become Kaukauna. The mi ll was the first to
be operated by water power in lhe slate.
Rev. Jesse Miner arri ved in the spring of 1828 to minister to the Stock-
bridge and Munsee tri bes living in Statesburg on the south side of the river.
Rev. Miner was a member or the Scottish Mission Society of the Presbyterian
Church of North America.
On September 3, 1836. the signing or the Treaty of Cedars at what is now
Little Chute was the start or a land boom in the area. Under the treaty, the Me-
nominee Indian nation ceded to the Uni led States about 4,000,000 acres of land
for $700,000 ( 17,948,7 17 today). The Menominee Indians began moving to
their new homes west of the Wolf Ri ve r. Many settled in the Stockbridge and
Brothertown area.
ln 1846, Congress ofTcred a large land grant to the Wisconsin Tenitory to
develop a navigab le route rrom Lake Michigan along the Fox River to the Wis-
consin River. Wisconsin accepted the offer after ente1ing the Union in 1848.
Over the next sc' era I years companies attempted to construct dams, locks
and canals along the Fox River. /\ II ended in bankruptcy uncil 1866 when the
Green Bay and Mississipp i Canal Company purchased the land and company in
bankruptcy court. The Canal Company was more interested in developing wa-
ter power along the river than it was in operating the navigational fea tures.
Eventually the Green Bay and Mi ssiss ippi Canal Company would jointly
own most of the businesses utili zi ng waler power. Patten Paper Company. Un-
ion Pu lp Company and Fox River Pulp and Paper Company located in Kaukau-
na argued that they owned the water rights along their property. A 50-year
cou11 battle would ensue before the case was ruled in favor of Kaukauna and the
mills in August 1912.
The north side of tht: ri ver known as Kaukauna continued to grow as busi -
nesses set up shop to accommodate the in Oux of workers fo r the Locks Project
and the mil ls building along the canal. John Hunt described Kaukauna in the
5
1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer as a population of 200 with 30 dwel lings, 3 stores, 4
hotels, I saw mill, and a Baptist and Catholic Chu rch.
Cord and Gray bui lt a large flouring mil l in 1861. In the 1860s Nichols
bui lt a stave (barrel) factory. Peter and Alexander Reuter came to Kaukauna in
1869 and buil t the Reuter Hu b and Spoke Factory on the canal north of the Thil-
many Mi ll. Diedrich built a saw mill. H.B. Bcrenclscn ope nttccl a meal market
and John Hunt was a merchant.
In 1880, Kaukauna 's population was 700. The ncx l year a popu lation
boom set in and by 1885, the ci ty' s populati on was 3.343. an increase o r more
than 363 percent. The boom didn't last long. Arter lhc canal was bui lt. most 01·
the workers left the city.
Modern Kaukauna dates its beginning with the great water power utilized
by mills and the location of the Milwaukee. Lake Shore and Western Railway
on the south side known as Ledyard. The next two decades would see the buil d-
ing of the Hewitt Canal and paper mil ls such as Badger Pape r Company, Out-
agamie Mill, Kaukauna Fibre Mill. Reese Paper Company, Shartle Paper Com-
pany, Th ilmany Pulp and Paper Company, Otis and Doane Fibre Mill and Pat-
ton Paper Mill.
The north and south sides of Kaukau na would each develop a booming
business area with stores. hotels. taverns and livery stab les. The city council
was busy developing ordinances and addressing needs a growing city faced.
The major need identified was lire protection. The city recruited volunteers
from both sides of the river to respond to Ii res.

Wisconsin A venue looking East

6
Kaukauna Volunteer Fire Department - Major Fires
The Kaukauna land boom brought with it the same fire hazards as the colo-
ni sts in the East experienced. Buildings in the business sec tion were built close
together and up instead of out. Businesses utili zed eve1y space available. In
some instances suppl ics and finished products were stored in the attic and base-
ment. Haphazard sto ring of cleaning supplies, rags and chemica ls led to sponta-
neous combustion fires. The first buildings were primarily wooden with wood
shingled roofs and wooden chimneys. Sparks from the chimney were the major
cause of many business and home fires. People were careless with smoking
materials at home and at work.
Homeowners burned garbage and debris in the backyard, near the end of
their property. T hey did not use burning barrels. Families dumped hot ashes
from the furnace outside and often sparks blew from the ash pile and started
nearby fires. The primary light in homes and businesses was provided by can-
dles and kerosene lamps. Kerosene and gasoline vvere stored in stables or
homes. Furnace fires were stoked in the evening so they wou ld burn all night.
The chimneys ove rheated and started fires. Mother Nature created many fie1y
demons with her lightning and wind storn1s.
The city was divided by the Fox Ri ver, yet there wasn ' t a way to get the
water from the river to a fire. There were no fire hydra nts or water towers for
pressure. Citi zens started questioning why there should be a ri va lry between
Ledyard and Kaukau na when a union by both vi llages would help promote a
vigorous. booming city. Some merchants owned a business on one side of the
ri ver and lived on the other side. Residents were finding that they needed to
shop on both sides of the river to obtain supplies. By this time a swing b1idge
was constructed across the river near the site of the Kaukauna Dam.
On .June 20, 1884, 38 citizens, representing 934 citizens of Ledyard decid-
ed to incorporate instead of combining with the north side and petitioned the
cou1t for a vi IIage charter. The petition was granted. The vi IIage encompassed
746 acres and was divided into two wards. Various committees were appointed,
a seal was adopted , licenses were granted and school ch ildren were vaccinated.
By 1884 both s icks of the river had experienced major damage from large
fires. The first documented fire was the Stave factory (manufactured sttips of
wood used to make buckets and barrels) in 1868. Stovekins nour mill burned in
1871. In 1879 the new warehouse and office connected with John Stovekin pa-
per mill (first paper mill in the area) were totally destroyed by a tire started
from spontaneous combustion. Damage was es ti mated at S7 ,000 ($ 159,091
today). The same year lightning destroyed the Mil waukee and Lake Shore De-
pot in Kaukauna . During the storm the night watchman at Reuter Hub and
Spoke Company was injured by lightning.
Headlines read "The Fie1y Demon Visits Kaukauna in al l its Terrible Fury.
The Eagle Paper Mill and Flouri ng Mills in Ruin." The Eagle Paper Mill was
originally the Stovekin Flour Mill, then became the Stovekin and Frambach

7
Flour and Paper Mill which burned in 1879. After the tire H. A. Frambach re-
built the mill and renamed it the Eagle Paper and Flouring Mill.
On August 25, 188 l , in the middl e or the afternoon the alarm sounded for a
small fire at the Eagle Mi ll. Within a short time volunteers extinguished the fire
and workers returned to their jobs. The next day at almost the same time people
looked out their windows lo sec an immense sheet of flame and heavy black
smoke shooting from the east end or the large scone building. Thomas Reese
sounded the ala1111 and volunteers responded.
The flames or the Eagle Mill lire increased in fury and the men decided to
t1y to save the adjoin in g bui ldings. City official s telegraphed the Appleton Fire
Department requesting that 1hey send a steamer engine to help fight the fire.
The steamer never arri ved because there wasn·t a train a\'ai lable to transpo1i the
engine. Volunteer brought a force pump and hose from the Reuter Brothers
Spoke and Hub Fac1ory. Along wi1h a bucke1 brigade (the buckets ,,·ere stored
in a little building on the south side or Wisconsin Avenue) the men did manage
to save the new building ol' the Chicago Novelty Company next door and the 0.
A. Byrnes & Co. located nearby. The wind died clown and . volunteers turned
their efforts toward sav ing the main part or the Eagle Mill. A flame was seen
starting about the wooden building or cupola on the roof. Dr. H.B. Tanner de-
scribed fighting the fire in the fol lowing article which appeared in the August 8.
192 1, Kaukauna Times :
"After supper we decided to lake a walk to the river and as we were about
opposite where the training sc hool is now located I noticed a puff of smoke
from the paper mi ll and saw men running. I opened a little gate that was in the
fence in the rear or the Brothers property, and told mother and sister to go up on
the bank and watch the lire while I went down to sec what it was. We soon had
the old hand pump or the Reuter Brot hers going but soon saw that the paper mil l
was doomed. There was a so lid stone wall separat ing the paper mill from the
flour mill in front and on top or the f1our mill was a frame cupola and some of
us thought that if we could get a stream ol' water playing on this and prevent the
fire eati ng its way downward we might save the flour mi ll. It was our intention
to pull the hose up from the outside, so, picki ng up a piece of rope. six of us ran
up through the interior of the mill to the top. We found a short ladder up there
to reach the top or the cupola, about thi s time the roof of the paper mill fe ll in.
ft seems there was a belt hole in the so lid stone wall and the compressed air as
the roof rel! in blew a strea m or !lame in to the flour mill and as this mill was
d1y and filled with dust in a moment the whole mill was aflame. The people
down below began shouting 10 us to come down and we dropped the rope and
started down. There was a \\'heat bin whose 1op extended up through the floor
of the cupola about a foot and in my haste I forgo1 1his and stumbled over it and
fel l into the bin. The sides were smooth as glass bu1 fortunately for me there
was enough wheal in the bin to enab le me to reach the top with my hands and I
quickly drew myscl r up and about that same time those who had gone before
came back strangling with the smoke, so in place of trying lo get down through
the mill we all pi led ou t on the roo f aga in, coughing from the smoke and heat.
8
''Dave Kirwin grabbed the rope and handed it to Mr. Phillips and with an
exclamation "let me clown. I have a wife and children'" he sli d lo the first win-
dow and the names caused him to let go and he dropped to th\! llume below.
He fell with a hollow sound and as I saw him carried away I thought he had
been ki lled. I confess I was rather excited up to thi s time but this acc ident kind
of sobered me and I said to myse lf it has to be pretty hot before I jump off. We
noticed the folks below were placing a ladder on the nortlrn est comer or the
mill but it was 100 short. Presently Hugh McGlinchy mounted this and held
another ladder on his shoulder, but this proved too short also, so we lied the
small ladder to the rope we had and fastened it to a ch imney and bin to enab le
me to reach the lop with my hands and I quickly drew myself up and about Lhat
same time those who had gone before came back strangl ing wi th the smoke. so
in place of trying to get clown through the mil l we all piled out on the roof
again, coughing rrom the smoke and heat. Soon we were crawling over the
cupola and gelling clown. I had seen Chicago firemen straddle a ladder and
slide in a hurry, so nrter passing McClinchy I did the sa me.
" I soon saw there was nothing more to be done so I vvalked over the cana l
to the hi llside where the folks were congregated. Mrs. Brothers said. "did you
notice those men up on the mi II?"
··.1 could not look al them; I just had to cover my eyes. My mot her. looking
at me kind or sharp. noticed I looked a li ttle pale and said. "were you up
there?'" When I began to realize \\·hat a close call I had with the rest of them
who \\'ere trapped up on the roof, I began to feel a little faint. so they insisted
that 1 go up to Mr. Lawe·s home where Miss Boyd, who became Mrs. Ta nner a
week later. fi xed me up a cup of coffee and the story had to be to ld over again .
.. So tar as I know of those who \\·ere on the root: Mr. A. W. Priest and I are
the only ones lcrt ali ve. A col lection was taken up and a line watch was pre-
sented to Mr. Hugh McC linchy for his bravery in ho ldi ng the ladder on his
shoulder faci ng the heat and fl ames as they poured from the windows.
"ln after years Geo. Kelso told me that he dated his ill healt h from the over
exertion he underwent in carrying out bundles of pulp and paper.
'"The !lour mill was never rebuilt as the whole s ite was converted into a
paper 111i11 later."
The lire probably originated from spontaneous combustion of rags in Lhe
bleach room and quick ly spread to the rag room and the rear portion of the mill.
Fifty men were left without a job. No deaths were reported.
Cit i2ens were concerned over whether or not the mill wou ld be rebuilt.
They questioned what steps the City of Kaukauna would take towards prevent-
ing a repeal of the Engle Mill Fire. Most citizens voiced the need fo r a fire en-
gine and well organized compa ny which they felt wou ld have saved the mi ll.
Other tires occurring between I 880 and 1884 included:
• D. J. Ryan's house
• Malone·s Livery stable where Hammer's building stood in the 40s.
• Ga tes residence and Th raser store located where the Standard filling
station stands. Th is lire was fought with a steam engine.
9
• Colbert livery stable and all the horses burned.
• Knitter's and Pauly 's Wagon and Blacksm ith shop and house burned.
The building was localed at the north side of Wisconsin Avenue left of
the bridge on the canal block. The weather was 35 degrees below zero
and the men worked all night.
• Reuter Brothers Hub and spoke facto1y located just below the upper
Thilmany Mill.
• In March 1881 a lightning stom1 passed over the city. striking I 0 homes
and Holy Cross Church. igniting small tires which were qu ickly ex tin-
guished.
• In 1882 Duggan Livery Barn and R. Licht 's Harness Shop burned.
Volunteer ci ti zens needed to listen for the tire alann and respond to the
barn or garage to co llect buckets and hoses and rush to the scene. If a stea m en-
gine was needed. someone had to obtain it from private businesses such as the
Reuter Brothers. who purchased the engine to protect their property. Water to
fight the fire was scarce. Well s and cisterns many rimes were dry after several
pai ls of waler were drawn.
On February 4. 1893, fire broke out in the rear of Klemmer's sa loon, locat-
ed on the corner or Crooks !\venue and Third Street, about I :00 a.m. By the
time an alarm was turned in the saloon was complete ly engul fed in flames. The
fire spread to Klcmmcr's res idence next door on the east side or the saloon.
The fire department responded to the fire but the extreme cold weather -
28 degrees below zero - hindered their work. Firemen had the fire al most under
control when the water in the reservoir gave out necessitating transferring the
hoses to the cana l and in the transfer the hoses froze up so that no water could
be forced through.
The fire quickly spread lo the McDaniel building occupied by '· Gercnd
as a fl our and feed store. The rear or the building was occupied by R. Lic ht's
Harness Shop and his residence was ·on the second floor. Licht's Harness Shop
,,·as destroyed by fire in early 1892. The Dederick sisters occupied part or the
second noor for their dressmaking store. The below zero weather hampered the
firem en in fighting the li re. The firem en's wet clothing froze and the men had
difficulty moving arou nd. The bui ldings were completely destroyed .
N. Gerend flour and feed store suffered a S 1.500 ($39.474 today) loss. in-
surance coverage was $ 1,000 ($26,316 today). Robert Lichf s harness shop and
res idence, stock. and househo ld goods loss totaled $ 1,500 (539.474 today). In-
surance coverage was $500 (S 13.158 today). The Dederick sisters loss was
$150 ($3.947 today). Henry McDaniel lost $2,200 ($57.895 today). Neither the
Diederick sisters or McDaniel carried insurance. A. Klcmmer's loss was
$3,000 ($78,947 today) and insurance covered $ 1,500 ($39,474 today).
Cit izens began complaining to the city council that Kaukauna's volunteer
fire department had deteriorated and could not handle large fires. ln the Febru-
a1y 9, 1883, Kaukw111a Times ed itor, Charles Raught, printed an open letter Lo

10
the city council concerning the lack of fire protection in the city:
'The old adage that the fore-warned is to be fore-armed, never could be
applied lo a community any more aptly than ours at the present time. Should a
fire start on the south side of Main Street, during one of those south west gales,
which we are having every few days this winter, the entire business portion of
our town wou ld be absolutely at the mercy or wind and flames. Actual fact and
a startling one too that we are not as well protected from fire as we were two
years ago.
"Then lhere were fe1,.ver buildings of tinder box nature than at present on
ou r Main St. (Wisconsin Avenue) and we had an engine-house in which there
were stored several ladders, pike poles, and a large supply of leather buckets.
Whal is the present condition? Engine house has been turned into a dwell-
ing. Ladders and poles have disappeared in an unaccountable manner; leather
buckets are either doing duty watering horses or stored away in some hay loft
where it should take many minutes of precious lime in case they were needed .
"To be sure there is a hand engine in our vi llage. but it was bought and is
owned by private parties to protect property on the water power. Heretofore at
a fire they have kindly and willingly manned and used it to the best advantage
in extinguish ing the blaze. If fire should occur in town and water power was
needed they would use the engine to extinguish their fire.
"A nother problem is the scarcity of water. Difficult to get even a single
pail full !·'rom any well on Main Street and the cisterns are worse than that, all
dry. Certainly have plenty of water in the canal and do not desire the impres-
sion thaL our unrival led water power is drying up. Trouble is, in case of fire, the
available water in the canal is under about two reel of very solid ice. Just imag-
ine in case o l' fire a dozen or more excited men trying Lo chop through the ice
and even after it was done trying to clip up water, provided they could find any-
thing to clip with for it is doubtful if there are five dozen available buckets in
town.
·'Are we to go on in this present manner, absolutely without proper appa-
ratus to protect propetty or to save life in case or fire? Shall we make an effort
to change the ex isti ng state of affairs? What is needed is an engine of some de-
scription thal will throw a good stream of water.
lf a steam engine is beyond our means then a hand machine would probably
answer that purpose .
" II' the town officers will not, nor cannot be compelled to purchase one,
then the citizens of this community ought to ra ise enough to get the next neces-
sary app liances to properly protect their interests. If we had an engine and an
active vol unteer fire company, it is very li kely the present high insurance rates
would be reduced. But with the state of affa irs existing at present, the insur-
ance agents are wel l aware of the fact, that sooner or later they will have to pay
some heavy losses here, and consequently are compelled to keep rates at the
advanced state. This matter has been discussed publicly and privately, bul no
action taken. Another adage could very properl y end the article, that "after the
horse is stolen the stable door will be locked." In other \.vords after a big fire
ll
comes, the thought why did not I do this, or that to protect my property, but
alas, too late. "
Two months later on a Monday evening in April. Ledyard experienced a
major fire which destroyed several buildings on Second Street. The Vilas
Boarding House, after several small fires over the years burned to the ground.
The fire was discovered by one of the boarders in a small building at the rear of
the Vilas House. The small building was engulfed in flames and efforts made to
prevent it from spreading to the boarding house were futile. The fire ravaged
out of control and a telegram was sent to Appleton requesting a fire engine.
Jn the meantime several men obtained the little hand engine belonging to
the Reuter Brothers to use to keep the flames under control. The engine vvorked
until it ran out of water. Volunteers had to transport buckets of water from the
canal. Too much time was lost and soon the hand engine was useless.
The fire spread next door to the Spranger building and another building
which housed D. W. Kreles & Son Dry Goods Store and Lawler & Hickok Sa-
loon. The fire continued to slowly burn. Had there been a fire engi ne or a well
organized hook and ladder company all the princi pal buildings could have been
saved.
The fire was still smoldering, but under control at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning,
when the Appleton fire engine arrived on the Lake Shore train. The engine was
not taken off the flatbed train, a1Tiving too late to be of any help.
Total loss of the buildings and contents not counting the Vilas House was
S2,100 ($47,727 today). Tnsurance covered most of the contents and buildings.
The fire reinforced the citizens ' concern that better fire equipment was
needed. The community could not continue to depend on the Reuter brothers
engine which was a great help in preventing the fire from spreading, but not
large enough to extinguish a major fire.
In July 1884 during the night, a disastrous fire consumed the Delaney &
Sons Foundry and Machine Shop. Around I 1p.m. the night >vvatchman started a
fire in the furnace in the core oven for the purpose of d1ying the cores for Satur-
day's work. The furnace and core oven were constructed of stone and brick in
mortar, with iron doors in order that fire could not escape from the furnace.
When the night watchman returned later to replenish the fire , he discovered the
fire had broken out of the furnace. The watchman couldn ' t exti nguish the fire
and called for help. The fire was fought with a bucket brigade. The loss was
$ l l ,000 (£261 ,905 today) and only $1,000 ($23 ,8 l 0 today) was covered by in-
surance.
The Kaukauna Times editor. Charles Raught, continued to reiterate the
need for a regulated fire department and a fire engine. "The way we are situat-
ed at present we are not safe for a clay. We shou ld be ab le to control the flames
immediately. Why do we delay in getti ng the right equipment? Work done at
the last fire in Kaukauna shows that there are young men enough here, to form a
first class fire company, one that any city or town in the state might be proud
of."
In September, 1884, Robert Hamilton's barn on the Island bu med down.
12
It's not known how many undocumented small fires occurred during this
time period.
ln December the city experienced cold, snowy weather and another major
fire. Flames started in Reese & Meig's Meat Market and spread to adjo ining
wooden structures . On lookers were sure that the fire would destroy the entire
block. The fire was confi ned to three stores: Reese & Me igs Meat Ma rket,
Michel & Wirtz's, and A. Greves and Crown' s Ga llery. The few vo lunteers
who responded prevented the fire from spreading to three other buil dings.
A message was sen t to App leton for assistance. Appleton loaded a steamer
engine on a fl at car on the Lake Shore Road train. Due to a delay in localing a
locomoti ve engine to bring the steam engine to Kaukauna, it fa iled to put in an
appearance.
Hundreds of men and boys vvatching the conflagration refosed to carry
buckets of water. Several men refused to assist in transporting the Reuter fire
engine to the scene.
Citizens requested a meeting following the fire to discuss organizing a fire
department. The past major fires were still fresh in their memory and they
wanted the city to purchase a fire engine. During three major blazes the city
discovered that even if neighboring cities were willing to send assistance there
was no guarantee that the equipment would arrive in time to fight the fi re.

C harles Raught
Kaukauna Times Editor

13
K l ine Flour M ill 19 15

THIRD AVENUE, KAUKAUNA, WIS.

Looking east from T hird and M ain Streets


1. A ugust M i ll bui lding, 2 . Gcrcncl's store,
3. M artens Store, 4. T. J. Bnlgie Store

14
First Organized Volunteer Department -Ma.ior Fires
Kaukauna ci tizens gathered at Harmer's Hall on a cold December evening
in 1884. The purpose was to discuss organizing a fire department. The citizens
approved the format ion of a '"fire committee" whi ch would organi ze a fire de-
partment and purchase an engine and firefighting equipmen t.
Officers elected were George Butler, Foreman of the Company; .John
Mitchell , Ass istant Foreman; James Driessen, Hose Captain ; Dan Reardon, As-
sistant Hose Captain; .John Watson, Secretary; Thomas Reese, Treasurer, and
honorary member. Dr. Lord,. The trnstees were Peter Reuter, Thomas Reese
and Otto Runle. T he fire comm ittee's first priority was to ra ise money to pur-
chase an engine and other necessary firefighting eq uipment.
Approximately 40 citi zens signed up to become volunteer firefi ghters.
ln March. 1885 Ledyard and Kaukauna merged into the City of Kaukauna
and Colonel 1-1. A. Frarnbach was elected the city's first mayor. One of the
rnain reasons for the merger was to improve fire protection fo r both communi-
ties. The first official acl of the new city was to take possession of Lhe fire-
fighting equi pment owned by the two volunteer fire compan ies and lo hire the
first full -ti1ne city employee, Joseph Rivers. Given the ti tle of chief engineer,
Rivers drove the horses that hau led the fire department's pump and ladder \vag-
on , maintained the equipment and coordinated the activities of the two fire com-
panies.
In June 1885 the city council published a notice that the lire committee
would hold an exhibiti on trial of steam engines. First \.vas the Eaton Prince
manufactured in Chicago. followed by Steamer No I, of App leton man ufac-
tured by Clapps & Jones of Hudson, New York. The day of the trial brought
out citizens from both sides of the river and a number or citizens from Apple-
ton. T he crowd gathered near the draw bridge to witness the competition be-
tween the two engines. The trial began at 2 p.m. and continued for five hours.
The engines were located at the drawbridge with the hose carried up the steep
grade of Wisconsin Avenue on the north side.
The fast test the Eaton & Prince completed was getting up steam . The en-
gine had 90 lbs. of steam in 6 minutes 35 seconds and threw a stream through
150 feet oC hose. The Clapp & Jones engine had steam in 14 minutes 30 sec-
onds and made the sa me steam record. The next test was throwing a stream of
water through 500 feel of hose. Eaton & Prince threw a stream 177 feet and the
Clapp & .Jones I 52 fee t. The third test was through 1,000 feet of hose, the
Eaton & Prince throwi ng 150 feet and the Clapp & Jones I 00 feet. The foutth
test was throwing two streams of ';vater through 500 feet of hose. The Eaton &
Prince threw 142 Ceet and Clapp & .Jones l 80 feet. The last test put the Apple-
ton Clapp & Jones in the lead. Eaton & Prince Steamer Company requested a
second tri al held the nex t day on the south side. The results were much better.
The Fire Committee was not convinced that either engine was the right one
fo r the Kaukauna Fire Department. A week later the city council announced

15
Lhal a new fire engine would be bui lt by the Butlon Manu facturing Company or
Waterford. New York, provided the company could meet the follow ing criteria:
• Engine would weigh 4,300 pou nds.
• Capac ity of the pump 550 gallons per minute.
• 100 fee t of hose would throw a st ream of water more than 250 feel.
• Engine could generate steam from I0 inches or cold waler in fi ve Lo s ix
minutes from the lime of starling the fi re and ab le Lo throvv a stream or wa-
ter through I00 feet of hose.
• The company \vould furnish two hose carts.
• The total price was $900 on de !ive ry and S300 annuall y !or li ve years, with
in terest at six percent per annum, making the total cost of the engine $3,400
($77,273 today). This ,,·ould make it affordable in the way or taxation.
The Button Manufacturi ng Company indicated that it would meet the city's
expectation. The Kaukauna City Counci l approved what was then considered
the top or the line fire engine.
Lysander Bulton, co mpan y owner, developed the lirst ·' piano engine"
which delivered water from the fron t end or the trunk or the device. Another
notable improvement was the "runa round'' that returned water to the sucti on to
relieve pressure on the hose. In 184 1 he deve loped the lirst lire engine water
pump with valves set at an angle of 45 degrees and stra ight- level water\\'ays
from the inlet to the outlet.
Years later. Burton fire engines continued to be manufactured by the
American Fire Engine Company which \\'as formed in 1891 by the conso lida-
tion of the Button Fire Engine Works. Silsby Manufacturing Company. Ahrens
Manufacturing Company and Clapp & Jones. Thousands of' Button lire engines
were so ld th roughout the world and many still ex ist in work ing condition, used
fo r pa rades and contests.
Kaukauna experienced a lire ca used by lightning on .July l 6. 1885. The
fire complete ly destroyed the Rivers & Foat Machine Shop in the Firth Ward
(the island). The machine shop was built in 1884 by M. 11. Mulloy & Co.
Four days after the fire the new steam engine arrived in the city and was
tested by city engineers. Frank Slater. of the lire department, a practical engi-
neer and a first-class machinist. carefully examined the engi ne and fo und that it
ex hibited first-class workmanship. Sla ter recommended that the counci l accept
the engine.
The October 9. 1885 , Ka11ka1111a Times printed the lire Ii mil s which the city
council established for respond ing to a lire:
"For South Kaukauna sa id lire limits include all ol' bloeks, No. 1,2 ,3,4,5,6.
and 7. It also covers lots 1.2,3.4,5, and 6 or Block No. I0 and lots No.
1.2,3,4,5.6, and 7 of Block No. I I or Ledyard plat.
For North Kaukauna said fi re limits embrace the following property; begin-
ning at the intersection of the cen ter line or Block No. 12 on the map or Kaukau-
na, 120 fee t from the intersection or Kaukauna Street and Wisconsin A venue,
thence runni ng through the centre or Blocks No. 12 and 5 Lo Lawe Street,

16
thence crossing Lawe Street, northern line of Wisconsin Avenue, to the water o r
the U. S. government canal, thence fol lo..ving along the northerly shore of sa id
Government Canal and on the northerly shore of the Fox River to the intersec-
tion of the same with the southerly side of Kaukauna St., thence along the
southerly side of Kaukauna St., to the place of beginning."
The city council continued to pass ordinances. Streets, al leys, sidewa lks,
drainage, fire and police protection received prompt attention. Special road tax-
es were levied to fund the various projects. An election was held to determ ine
whether S20,000 ($476,190 today) in bonds should be issued for building and
furnis hing an engine hall, council chamber and city lock up Uail) and $3,000
($7 l ,429) to purchase a fire engine and firefighting apparatus. The remain ing
$4,300 would be used for road graveling, drainage, fi lling potholes, and other-
wise improving the streets and alleys of the city. Citizens approved the bond
purchase.
In October, North Kaukauna Volunteer Company was organized into two
divi sions, 27 members, 12 in the fire company and 15 in the hook and ladder
company. The officers were Fire Ch ief, Will iam Klumb; Assistant Ch ief, C. E.
Raught; Secretary, C. M. Patterson; and E. \V. Filler, Treasurer
Chief engineer Joseph Rivers and the teamsters (men who handled and
drove the team of horses) were hired by the city. The chief elected by the lire-
men was paid $75 (SI ,829 today) a year by the city. The only compensation the
men received was a small percentage paid by the insurance compani es when a
building or property that caught fire was insured.
The first meeting of the North Kaukauna Fire Company was held at Wat-
son Brothers' Store on Wisconsin Avenue. The south side of Kaukauna would
organize a volunteer fire company later. Shortly after, the new city hall was
built on the island on Oak Street behind ,,·hat is now River View Middle
School, corner of Oak Street and Island Street. The firelighters raised money Lo
furnish the one room assigned to the tire department.
The city furni shed the Button Engine with two hose carts with 2,500 feel or
hose and a hook and ladder outfit. The engine and hose were kept on the lirst
floor. A high tower built over the city hall served as a lookout and was used to
dry hoses. The hall was not large enough to store the equipment of Fire Com-
pany No. 2 Hook and Ladder Company. Charles Colwais allowed the Fire De-
pa1tment Hook and Ladder Company to store its eq uipment in his li very barn
located on the island.
The city sunk about five large wooden tanks into the ground in di ffcrenl
parts of the city. These were filled with water and used by firefighters when
water "·as needed. One tank was located near the south east comer of Main and
Second Street. If the "·ater tank emptied before the fire was extinguished fire-
fighters were forced to watch the fire consume the bui lding.
About midnight on January 15, l 886. the new store building owned by
Co lletta & Company on Depot Street caught fire and burned to the grou nd. The
first alann quickly brought out members of the fire department. but it was more
than a half hour before a team of horses was obtained from John Beck to bring
17
the sleamer to the fire . In the mcanlime live members of the fire company, with
great difficulty. pulled the hose cart up the steep ascent on Wisconsin Avenue.
Before the hose cart and steamer arri ved, the fire spread to the Cooper shop next
door and destroyed that building. All firemen could do was prevent the fire
from spreading to additiona l buildings. The fire loss was about $4,000 ($97,561
today). CiLizens were upscl whcn word spread that two men refused the use of
the ir tea m of horses to hitch up and hau l the engine lo the lire.
Shortly after the fire. South Kaukauna Fire Company No. 2 was estab-
1ished on the south side. There is strong probability that Joseph Faust was
elected chief. Fire Company o. 1 remained on the north side. The city had
only one engine. Both companies soon realized that one organ ization could
function with greater efficiency than two. Following a spirited debate in May.
1886. members of Company o. 2 voted unanimously to unite with Company
1 o. 1. Members of Company o. I on the north side decided, if agreeable, the
south side company would take cha rge of the hook and ladder truck while the
north side would take cha rge or the stea mer. The reorgani zati on resulted in the
City of Kaukauna Hook & Ladder Co . No I . The members were mostly mem-
bers of the north side fire department. but did admit members from both sides of
the ri ver. The south side company was renamed Kaukauna Fire Company No.
2. City of Kaukauna. dropping the word "south.'. Members from the north side
were eligible to join Company No 2.
The changes benefited the lire department by placing the service under the
control of one engine company and the hook and ladder company in charge of
another. This prevented any clashing 0 1· interests in the future and each organi-
zation worked independent or the other.
April 16, 1886, H. N. Meitcr's home on Lawe Street burned. John Corco-
ran 's team of horses, considered the best, arri ved at the engine house and were
hooked up to the steamer. Wisconsin /\venue was in such bad condition that
the team became mired in the mud and another learn or horses was soon hi tched
up. By the time the engine arrived at the lire, the house was destroyed. Fires
occurring the rest of 1886 were wel l handled by the li re companies and citizens
were proud of their tire company. On February 1887 the ciLy council approved
an ordinance relating to the duties or the ol1icers of the lire department. The
ordinance stated that the chief" engineer was in command of all vol unteer fire-
men and other persons responding to !ires. The ch ief engineer with the consent
of the Mayor had the power to grant permission to any fire company to respond
to fires outside the city limits.
Ch ief Faust had the power Lo order bui ldings and fences torn clown if in the
way of con trolling a fire. Fire companies or liremen who lel'L a tire without per-
mission were subject to a fine or up to $ 10 ($244 today). The chief engineer
,,·as responsible to keep all engines and lire apparatus in working order and
complete the proper reports req uested by the common council. The chiefs and
assistant engineers wore a lire cap. a belt and ca1,-ied a trumpet when respond-
ing to tires.
Jn J 887 the city counci l pass~ d an ordinance which stated that during a
18
fire citizens could no longer bring "intoxicating liquor" to the firemen. This
was a common practice. especially during below zero weather and blizzard con-
ditions in an effort to warm up the men. The fin e was S3 to $20 ($73 to $488
today). The exception was if the mayor or chief engineer granted permi ssion to
supply the liquor.
The city council approved the raising of the fire enginccr·s salary of $25
per month to $40 ($976 today) a month.
The Kaukauna Fire Department made plans to hold their first annual re-
view scheduled for Saturday, June 13, 1887. The fire department was fully or-
ganized with a membership of about 30 volunteers. The Kaukauna Times men-
tioned that very few cities had as well organized vo lunteer lire department as
Kaukauna and encouraged citizens to lend their assistance when requested by
the department..
On Saturday the citizens gathered to watch the parade which started at city
hall. The parade was headed by the Germania Band and followed by Mayor
Reuter, former Mayor Col. I-1.. A. Frarnbach, other dignitaries in carriages, the
fire stea mer, the fire company and hook and ladder company volunteers in their
bright new uniforms. Engineers Rivers and Jones represented the Kaukauna
Fire Department.
After the parade, the citizen s gathered at the Opera I louse on the island
where Mayor Reuter and former Mayor H. A. Frambach gave a short speech on
the importance of Lhe fire department. City Attorney, J. J. Brothers read a letter
from John Hickey, who was unable to make the event in whic h he praised
Kaukauna's Fire Department and the men who volunteered to protect their fel -
low citizens. The celebration allowed the citizens to view a newly uniformed
volunteer fire department, and raise money from the enterta inment for furnish-
ing the interior or the lire department.
One mon th later, July 28, 1887, the largest fire in Kaukauna history up to
that time broke out. The fi re consumed almost the entire business block com-
prised of sma ll wooden adjoining buildings. A strong wind from the east
fanned the fire and it moved westerly up Wisconsin Avenue consum ing build-
ing after building.
The fire department was unusually slow in reaching the scene and after the
hose was laid 20 minutes elapsed before a drop or water passed through the
nozzle. Firemen and citizens raced to the Commercia l House owned by Thom-
as Mitchell , and tried Lo carry furniture and goods into the street. The fire
spread with remarkable speed and fury. Household goods in buildings west of the
Commercial I louse new into Lhe street, damaged as they crashed LO the ground.
Many of the boa rders at the Fox River House were at work in the mills and fac-
tories and lost all their be longings.
It was impossible to save the Commercial House and firemen directed their
attention to sav ing the Kaukauna House and Sullivan House. J\t 5:20 p.m. act-
ing Mayor John Hickey (Mayor Peter Reuter was out of town) cal led the Apple-
ton Fire Depar"lmenl for help. The Appleton steamer and appa ratus arri ved on
the Lake Shore Road train at 6 p.111 . but the danger of the f'ire extending
19
further was past and the fire equipment returned to Appleton without being
unloaded. The loss was approx imately $22,979 ($560,463 today). Insurance
coverage was approximately$ I0.909 ($266,073 today). Several buildings were
not insured.
The next clay al 4 p.m. a lire started in the allic of the Sullivan Building on
Wisconsi n A venue and burned rapid ly. After the fire alarm was sounded it
took 21 minutes for the engine to arrive. Once the engine arrived \\·ater could
not be thrown due to l~1u lly va lves and the fi refi ghters stood there and watched
the building burn clown . The adjo ining bu ilding owned by Gri swo ld and occu-
pied by \V. M. Ferguson was about 40 feet from the Sullivan building. Men
formed a bucket brigade and managed to save the building with pails of \\'ater.
The ori gin of the fire was unknown. It was thought that when the clothing was
carried out of the bui lding during the large fire the day before a spark was car-
ried into the attic and smoldered through the night , igniting into a roaring blaze
the next day. During the time between the two tires. looters managed to steal
valuable property !'rom the burned building.
Word spread rapidly among the citizens concerning the man11er in which
the fire department handled the two major fires. The Kaukauna Times on July
29, 1887 printed an unsigned letter received on how the men handled the fire.
·The manner in which the fires or Monday and Tuesday were handl ed
wou ld have disgraced a place for less pretentious than Kaukauna and the specta-
tors could but wear a disgusted countenance. Apparently there ·was no head to
the organization , every person connected therewith endeavoring to control the
others, or act according lo his own judgment regardl ess of the chief commander.
''ln the case or Monday's lire. water was not thrown for exactly 35 minutes
after the alarm bel l sounded, which gave sufficient time not only for the fierce
elements to get beyond control but to burn buildings to the ground. Had the
department been more prom pl in reac hing the scene of the conflagration and got
water readi ly thousa nds or dollars or hard earned money wou ld not have gone
up in smoke under the very eye or the clepa11ment and that body powerless to
prevent such a who lesale destruction or property.
''Tuesday's lire was only a reparation of the previous day, except the
steamer could not be made to throw water owi ng to some difficulty with the
valves. Something should be done and that immediately. to \\'arrant the safety
of property. Either organize a fire dept. and have a certain number of firemen in
readiness al all times with a team to pull the apparatus or abandon the engine
and put in reliable water works. To be sure the fire dept. worked hard to save
adjoining buildings and succeeded to a certain degree. but chat is not the idea: it
is save structures on fire when the flames are incipient.
A rebuttal letter followed:
"There is a di sposition on the part of some people to blame the fire depart-
ment for not doing better work at the lire of Monday and Tuesday. Those who
compl ain the most are those who looked on while the property was burning and
did not lift a hand in staying the fl ames or ~ave properly.
"The Kaukau na liremcn ure all volunteers, are pa id nothing for their work
20
and always work like demons whenever occasion requires, and al the fires this
week there was no exception to this rule.
"The firemen should be honored for doi ng what they could with lhe means
at hand, and not be kicked at and censured for failing to accompl ish impossibil -
ity. Regarding the condition of the steamer Tuesday, the machine \vorked all
right the day before and was apparently in good cond ition when work ceased
that night. For this reason we do not see why anyone should be censured on
account of its fa ilure Tuesday."
The fiery demons struck again on November 23, 1867, when I wo of the
largest mills in the city burned to the ground. The fire originated from the stove
of Kelso 's Mi ll around 9 a. rn . and spread to the Union Pu lp Company. An
alarm was turned in soon after the fire broke out, but a large number of the fire-
fi ghters were at De Pere. attending a firemen's dance. The fire apparatus had to
be handled by other citizens, although this didn '1 mailer much as the names
consumed the dry buildings in less than an hour. A large number or freigh t cars
were standing on the track near the mill . but the sw itch engine succeeded in get-
ting all but one away from the flames. The Kelso Mi ll was under the manage-
ment of Thomas Reese.
The Union Mill was owned by 11. J. Rogers or Appleton and the Van
lortwicks of Batavia, Il l. It \\'as one of the largest pulp manufacturing mills in
the no1thwest, running 16 grinders with a 24-foot face total. The mill was loca t-
ed on the Meade and Edwards water power canal. The va lue or the mi ll was
$70,000(S1.707 .3 I3 coday). Insurance coverage was $40.000 ($975.6 10 today).
The Union Mill noc only employed over 50 men from the city. but also a large
workforce who prepared the wood at Monico. Wisconsin . Appleton Paper
Mills, located in Appleton, received cheir pu lp from the Union Mi ll and were
forced to lay off pa1t of their work fo rce.
The pressing demand fo r pulp and the scarcity or pu lp led management to
immediately rebuild . Within three weeks the mill was cleaned up and enclosed
so that millwrights could work in a heated bui lding. The mill was complete ly
rebuilt in less than six weeks during the wi nter. The new mill was 75 x I 16 feet
in size, 12 feec shorter than the old one.
Patten Mi ll on the opposite side or the burning Kelso Mi ll escaped from
burning due to the wind blowing the flames in the opposi tl! direction.
By the end of 1887, the No. I Fire Company experi mented wi th various
new teams of horses to attach to the hose cart. The handsome gray learn. whi ch
had been in charge of the cart for a long time, became unlit for duty and the
counci I ordered the team sold. The latest team was owned by Luther Lindauer,
prominent businessman of Kaukauna who owned a stable of race horses. His
horses raced at the best racing tracks across the country. The city paid a fee to
the owner whenever the fire co mpany used his team of' horses for a lire run.
1888 started out as a rereat of the prev ious year ror major fires. On Janu-
ary 20, the Kaukauna Lumber and Manufacturing Company's warehouse
burned. The blaze started in the morning and was discovered in the glazing
room, where it was thought to have originated from the stove or a de rect in the
21
chimney.
The lire company responded within five minutes of the alann and had a
stream of water on the building. Firemen had three streams of water thro'rn
from the Th ilmany Mill keeping the fire under contro l and prevented it from
spreading to adjoining bui ldings. The iron sheeting on the warehouse helped
prevent the fire from spreading. The building destroyed was used as a paint
shop and glazing room. The warehouse was filled with a large supply of doors
and a carload or glass valued at $J ,000. The building and stock loss was esti-
mated al $5,000 ($ 12 1, 951 today). Insurance coverage from nine insurance
companies covered the loss.
Insurance companies included:
• New York Underwriters $ 1,900.00

• Phoenix or London 279.00


• German American 277.50

• Nungars of New York 92.50


• Phoenix of Brooklyn 32.50

• Oshkosh Mutual 300.00


• I larlford of Connecticut 1,000.00

• North American Philadelphia 1.000.00

• American Fire 1.000.00


The lumber company was the oldest manufacturing company located on
the government canal in KaukaLma. Originally the company was the He.,.vitt
Brothers & Company. In 1884 it was incorporated under the name of Kaukauna
Lumber and Ma nu focturing Company. The company consisted of a sash door
and blind factory. a dry kiln. boiler house. office and warehouse, and custom
saw mill. Connected to the company was a we ll-stocked lumber yard. The
warehouse was immediately rebuilt and this time the ent ire warehouse was cov-
ered with sheet iron.
On iovcmbcr 2. 1888. rhe Prospect Hotel. at the south west comer of Sec-
ond Street and Fourth Street (today Main Avenue) was damaged by flames and
water. ll had been several months since a fire or any consequence occurred in
the city nnd over two years since the south side business distri ct burned.
The engi neer of the switch engine on Lake Shore Road discovered the
flam es soaring from the second story of the Prospect Hotel. He sounded the
alarm al 2:30 a.m. There wasn't a team of horses to hitch up to the steamer and
haul il to the fire. Firefighters pushed the steamer to the water power canal and
set it up. The promptness of the firemen saved part or the hotel and prevented
the fire i·rorn spread ing to the adjoining wooden buildings, which would have
repeated the horri fie south side fire of 1887. The fire evidentl y started from the
chimncy and traveled up from the ban-00111.
Mr. Curtin, the proprietor, sa id he lost at least $5,000 in stock fixtures and
furn iture and $2.000 damage to the bui lding for a total loss of $7,000 (S170,732
today). He carried $8,000 in insurance, enough to cover his losses.
The post office housed in the Prospect Hotel was damaged. Postmaster
Mulholland arrived ai the post onice and removed letters and other valuable
material s.
Boarders and guests poured out of the hotel in a variety of attires, some
with their best clothes on. some partial ly dressed and others with their night
clothes on. Some of the servant girls lost all of their clothi ng and goods. John
Hoberg rebuilt the Prospect Hotel 70 feet deep on the lor so chat the end of the
building was nex t to the rai lroad track for hi s new ly relocated wholesale liquor
business. He made l\\'O stores, one fronting Second Street and Fourth Avenue
(later became Mai n St.)
In Marcl1 1889, the lirst major lire occurred when B. J. Mulholland 's house
was destroyed by lire. Firemen managed to keep the fire from spreading to ad-
joining homes.
Dan Ryan 's barn in the Town of Buchanan caught fire and spread to the
granary nearby. The barn was a complete loss. but most of the thousand bush-
els of oats was saved.
On May 24, 1889, a fire started in the upper story of the Outagamie Paper
Mill in the area used for sorting and cutting rags. A crew of 35 girls worked
days in that area. The mill's own lire apparatus and hose was immediately put
into use and helped contain the lire until the Kaukauna Fire Company arrived
with their engine. The lire engine was s low to arrive because the team hitched
to the engine got stuck in the mud and forced the company to secure another
team. Once at the scene the firern cn quickly brought the fire under control. The
rag cutting machinery and everything in that part of the build ing was destroyed.
A 60-foot hole was burned through the roof. Esti mated loss was $7 ,000 lo
$10,000 ($175,000 to $250,000 today).
The company converted wood and rags in to pulp then into print paper.
One of the company's largest customers was the Chicago Herald, which used
2,300 lbs per day. The mil l buil t of solid stone, three stories high, was back in
full production within three weeks.
1889 was the first year with a noticeable decrease in main tires. Many citi-
zens gave credit to the lire company. On February 14, 1890 the fire company
responded w a fire at M. Cantor's saloon located on Second Street. Firemen
managed to save part or the bui lding.
At the June 1890 council meeting the fire depa1t ment asked the council to
approve the purchase 01· a tea m ol" horses for the department. Citizens in favor
of the purchase lisled many reasons. The local large manufacturing industries
brought in thousands of dollars and expected top notch fire protection. The in-
crease in local working men bui !ding homes was a sign of a good economy.
Fire could wipe out the homes and savings o ~' many workers who were not cov-
ered by insurance.

23
The city was presently pay ing $3 ($77 today) a clay for teams of horses lo
work on the streets fo r 25 days a month fo r seven months. The yearly cost was
$525 ($ 13,462 today). The cost of the driver was about $328 ($8,4 I 0 today).
When an alam1 sounded the liremen had to go to the ov,:ner" s barn to borrow the
horses. After hitching up the team he drove the team lo the tire house to hook
up to the fire engine and pump. The city offered $5 ($128 today) to anyone
bringing a team of horses to help at the fires. The city council did not take any
action on purchasing horses.
The fire department 's second annual review was he ld in August 1890. At
2 p.m. a procession formed at the fire engi ne hall on the Island and included
Fire Chief Wil liam Klumb. Union Concert Band. the lire engine. Kaukauna Fire
Company. Kaukauna Hook and Ladder Company. mayor and city council. and
citizens in carriages. After passing up and down Wi sconsin Avenue the proces-
sion headed to the sou th side where the department demonstrated a fire run in
which the men laid hoses. put up ladders and fol lowed through demonstrating
all their equipment. Citizens were proud of their lire dcpa11ment and how much
they had improved since a year ago. Kaukauna now had a first class fire depart-
ment. Appleton's Fire Department was present and Fire Chief Kloopfel spoke
well of their performa nce. ~- .-
The band was rurnishcd by Dr. Tanner Ji \
and hi s brother, who were holding an auc- I; 1
I
tion for lots in Tanner's addition (Highway i '.
55 to Hendri cks Aven ue from Twelfth ! A i

Streel to Eighteenth Streel) that afternoon. I/ ,


The fire de111011slration was cul short. Al 3 J 2
91
"

p.m. the fire engine left the dcmonsrration


site loudly clanging its bel l and headed Ore<
south. The crowd assu med the engine was
responding lo a fire and followed the engine
to Tanner·s addition. The Tanner Brothers
and auctioneer were waiting to sell lots in
their add ition . By the encl or the clay over
half of the lots were sold due to the free ad-
,·ertizing Dr. Tanner had arranged with the
tire company. e 7
!
I 6 5
In December E. Lanclrcman noticed a , l l • :
house owned by 11. G. Recd on fire and coa1'RATfON1.Z7N.E
1
l
drove to the engine house to report the tire. ' : \\
Two minutes after the alarm sounded the ------------'~
engine was at the residence. but 15 minutes were lost raising steam lo get a
stream started. Once a slream was directed on the fire, it was quickly brought
under control. Damage amounted to several hundred dollars.
In reviewing lhe fire response. several factors stood out. Firsl a telephone
needed Lo be put in a convenient place lor the engineer. Without a phone a fire
needed lo be reported in person. There was also a delay in obtaining a team of
24
horses to hook up to the engine. The greatest delay was that the heater in the
engine house was not working and that meant the steam engine couldn't be
kept warmed up and ready to go. Mayor Lindauer immediately authorized the
tire chief to purchase a heater.
The city counci I was worried that i r a lire broke out in the business part of
the city the fire depa11mcn t lacked a tea m or horses to immediately respond. At
the December 1890 meeting the city counci I purchased the team of horses and
harnesses that the fire company had requested in June. The counci l was sti ll
concerned that the fire company had overlooked the little things needed to keep
the company in top work ing conditions.
The horses the fire company purchased were kept in a stable behind the
Fire Department. During their free time the firemen trained the horses. Each
horse was trained to rush under hi s harness as soon as the door to his stall was
opened. Sometimes, in order lo exercise the horses. the men would hitch them
to an old sprinkling cart and sprinkle the city's streets to lay the dust, since the
dirt roads became extremely dusty in the dry season.
Among the drivers or the horse driven clays were Owen Roberts, Charles
Miller and Archie Landon. Whenever a tire alarm sounded and the horse drawn
fire engi ne and the hook and ladder clashed out of the engine house, it would sti r
the "sporting blood" to watch the race between Owen Roberts and Charl ie Mil-
ler who would lay on the leather to see who would get there first.
Although an earnest, plodding conscientious firefighter, Archie wasn 't
built fo r speed and was once heard to remark, "I don't care how fast the horses
go, but I'd rather ride than run."
In the 1900s Owen Roberts was quite a judge of horseflesh and when a
new team had Lo be purchased, the decision was usually left to his judgment.
The horses wou ld be put on the dead run fo r I0 or 15 minutes, and then Mr.
Roberts would inspect the anima ls, listen to their breathing and run his hands up
and down their legs. If he was satis fied with them. he would say, "Th is is a
pretty sound team. I think we won't go wrong if vve keep them ." Since his
judgment was respected the purchase was made.
Fire safety was a major concern in 1890, not only for the fire depa1tment,
but for the loca l mills. The Badger Paper Company 's plant was fitted through-
out with the General Dry Air Automatic Fire Exti nguishing system.
Charles Raught, editor or the Kaukauna Times continued to voice his con-
cern that city oflic ial s were not interested in the fire department safety needs. If
hose laid to throw one stream wou ld furni sh four streams from hydrants, there
would be enough water to drown a fi re in a short time. Editor Raught stated
that it was time to spend money on more than sidewalks and roads. A water
system and fire hydrants shou ld become a top priority.
The fiery demons struck on January 24, 1891. and consumed the Kaukauna
Paper Mill. According to firefi ghters thi s was the hardest fought fire that they
responded to. Around I p.m. on Saturday. the men in the wood room were en-
joying lunch when the tire broke out in the tower part of the pulp mill.

25
Workers sounded the alarm and the firemen responded quickly. but dense
smoke made it impossible to enter any pan or the mill.
Mayor Lindauer immediately contacted the Appleton Fire Department fo r
help. Appleton ·s lo. 2 engine which had not been in use for several yea rs was
qu ickly loaded on a Lake Shore flat car and brought to Kaukauna. Since it had
not been in service fo r awhi le, it Look time to get the engine work ing.
The Kaukauna and Appleton engines succeeded in controlling the fl ames.
but not before tremendous damage had resulted. No firemen were injured.
Firemen remained at the scene until 3 a.m. Sunday morn ing and returned in the
afternoon lo extinguish smoldering embers.
The portion of the mi ll which was rebuil t a year ago fo llow ing a li re was
ent irely destroyed along with thousands or dollars worth of jute bales and other
paper makin g materials. Only the stone wall was left standing. The heavy
stone wa lIs between the machine room and the rest of the mi 11 saved the manu-
factured stock stored in the basement and finishing room. The fire lighters pre-
vented the fire from spreading to Thilmany Pulp and Paper Mill and Kaukauna
Lumber and Manufacturing Company. The loss amounted lo $75,000
($1.875.000 today) and insurance covered the entire amount.
A number of citizens continued to voice their concerns that city orticia ls
were not concerned with fi re safety and wrote lellers to the Ka11ka1111a Times.
Those fellers were followed by letters o r support for the tire company. One of
Lhc most voca l and in fl uential citizens wns Charles Raught whose letter criti-
cized the exc ited people who responded lo the tire and the tire department :
··Not withstanding the fact for a time there seemed to be no recognized
head or the fire department. after the firs t excitement passed off and the magni -
tude of the work before them was fully real ized the fire laddies got right down
to business and did excellent work. Under such circumstances the chief" should
be implicitly obeyed. Too many cooks spo il the broth. The most idiotic thing
done by the excited people who gathered al the scene was breaking the windo ..vs
of the mac hi ne room where nothing could be saved and vvhich created a draft
feeding lhc lire."
The latal mistake made by engine attendants was in shutting down that part
of the mill. Had they let it run and turned the water onto the bt:ater engines
they could have !loaded the mill in a few minutes. The smoke was Loo dense to
enter the mill and start them again .
Citizens in defense o~· the fi re clepartmem responded that the men. upon
hearing the fire bell and mill ,,·histles. responded in the cold weather to the lire
house. It wasn·r known why there wasn·1 a team of horses a\·ai lablc. Eight
minutes later a farmer came ga lloping to the department and helped hook up the
team. Many felt that because there were no teams in the engine room the blame
of losing eight minutes fell on the shou lders or ci ty officers.
The Kaukauna Paper Mill was the oldest paper mill located on the Govern-
ment Canal near the draw bridge. Originally John Stovekin in 1872 built a
Dom mil l on that site. The mill was the largest paper and pulp manufacturing
concern in the Fox River Vall ey. Ed O' Kcefe and T. W. Orbison, paper mi ll
26
architects, builders, and engineers, were in charge of rebuilding the mill.
Several fires occu rred in March 189 1. An old J ivery barn on Wisconsin
Avenue previously occupied by G. H. Finnegan was destroyed by fire. An old
barn owned by Dennis Farry near the lower encl of 'Wisconsin Avenue burned
completely and charred the Larson barn nex t door. A rumor persisted that the
fire was started by several boys. During the fire someone cut the fire hose in
three places. In June Henry Scholls ' s cooper-shop (made wooden barrels, pails
and rubs) on the island was destroyed by fire.
The third annual fire department rev iew was held in August. The swelter-
ing weather forced orga nizers of the event to cul short the length of the parade.
Loca l unifo rmed firemen marched in lhe parade along with fire departments
from neighboring cities. The parade marched from the north side to the south
side and ended at the Opera House. where a number of speeches were present-
ed. Supper was served in the Opera House, fo ll owed by a dance open to the
public. This was the first time the city council approved $75 toward lhe review
and celebration.
On October 15, 189 1, the Milwaukee House on Second Street. owned by
Frank Made ll. was destroyed by lire. By the time the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment arrived at the scene fl ames were shooting out from the roof. The fire orig-
inated from a del'ec ti ve nue in the kitchen and quick ly spread to the rear of the
building. The loss was about $2,500 ($64, I03 today) with $ 1,500 ($38,462 to-
day) covered by insurance.
The first half of I892 started out with a major lire on January 8. The bak-
ery and restaurant ovvned by D. W. Lark in on Second Street burned around 2:45
a.m. T he Cire had completely devoured the bakery before the fire department
responded. The foe spread quickly Lo an adjoining building occupied by G. W.
Fargo and Sons. T he building burned despite the efforts of the tire department.
New uniforms were ordered so that the lire department would have the
"regulation blue with nickel buttons" in lime for the Fourth of July parade. At
the June counci I meeting the council voted to pay $ I00 ($2,564 today). The
money amounted to $4 ($103 today) towards each uniform. The firemen decide
to pay for the uniforms Lhemselves, rather than accept such a small gift.
Later at the same meeting the council voted to add $ 150 ($3,846 today) to
the original $100 approved. T he liremen accepted this amount.
Jn .July fire consumed two bui ldings and seriously damaged a third build-
ing. Firemen were unable to save Peter Dugga n's Iivery barn and Jacob Licht's
harness shop. The firemen concentrated their effort on trying to save James
McKenney's tai lor shop next door.
During a small fire rnul!ipl e lengths or hose were needed to reach the fire.
Sections of the old hoses burst hindering the fireli ghting efforts. In the past the
city council discussed the need fo r a system of fire protection, especially fire
hydrants, but did not take any action. Once aga in Charles Raught, editor of the
Times, informed the citi zens that the fire depa rtment was not to blame. City
officials were not interested in the fire department needs.
In the July 15. 1892, Ko11ko1111a Times Raught blamed city fat hers:
27
"While the fire depa rtment received a great deal of abuse Tuesday morni ng
they in no way deserved it. The boys are will ing to do all they can to save prop-
erty, but it is impossible when the city officials will not interest themselves
enough in the depa rtment apparatus to examine it occasionally and replace old
broken down, used material with new.
"Tuesday morni ng lengths of hose \.Vere bu rst necessitati ng a shut down
every ti me. Who then is to blame fo r the lost tha t fo llowed?
"One of the greatest needs or the city of Kaukauna today is a system of fire
protection and the mayor and common council know it or ought to know the
better. Situated as it is Kaukauna can never be properly protected fro m the de-
structi ve element unti l a system of water works is put in and we defy any citizen
or alderman to prove this contrary.
"A river to cross. hi lls lo cl imb and a vast amount of ten-itory to cover all
go towards making it all but impossib le for one engine to properly protect the
property of Kaukauna.
"Had a system of water \VOrks been ready for the Tuesday morning, the
l ,000 feet of hose laid to throw one stream, would have furn ished four streams
from hydrants, enough waler lo drown that fi re with a gala blowi ng.
"The officers of the city or Kaukauna should know this and they do know
it, but for fear of arous ing the indignation of a few voters and thereby losing
thei r possibi lity of re-election they try lo cater to both sides and as a result ac-
complish nothing.
"Gentlemen of the counci l, you have been elected to look after the interests
of the city of Kaukauna. Why not do it?
"Do not assemble at the counci I chambers and merely order sidewalks built
and spend the city 's fin ances in c rossings and backi ng up of roads. Do some-
thing that is showi ng you have full authori ty to put in a system of water works,
why not do it? Two years from now when the city is ca lled upon for a water
rental every citizen wi ll kno\>v the benefi ts of such an improvement and instead
of being registered to politics, or ob iiv ion, some of you who fe lt a need may be
brought forward and crowned with the high honors of mun icipal government."
A large porti on of Wiscons in Avenue \vas consumed by fire on July 12,
1892. The fire started in the Andrew Dhein building and spread to seven other
structures. Losses were estimated at $5,700($ 146,154 today).
The fire depa rtment responded to several sma ll fi res and one major fire the
first half or 1892. On August 26, 1892, around 4 a.m. fire broke out in the rear
part of G. W. Pelton's Restaurant and Bakery. By the time the fire department
anived the building was co nsumed by the fire.
On June 23, 1893, the Kaukauna Fibre Company's Pulp Mill was de-
stroyed by fire. The fire broke out in the su lphur department of the mi ll and
rapid ly spread. The mi ll whi stle sounded the alarm. The fi re department was
slow to respond and did little to save the mil l due to the mismanagement of fire
hoses. Within 45 minutes the total structure was a roaring mass of flames and
the adjoining Badger mi lls were threatened . The mill caJTied $3 5,000

28
($897,436 today) insurance and no loss estimate was g iven .
N. Brokaw was the main owner and manager o r the mil l located on the
Kaukauna Water Power Cana l between the Badger and Little Badger mills. The
three-story frame structure consi sted of a \Vood room, fast feed machi ne room,
digester room and storage room. Built in 1890, the Kaukauna Fibre Mil l was
the first exclusive sulphite mill in the Fox River Valley. T he mill turned out
seven tons of pulp daily .
Fi re continued to ravage businesses. On August 1 I, 1893, C. E. Raught
and Company's printing office burned to the ground. The building was a frame
building sheeted up on the inside. Cases and cabinets were saved, but severely
damaged. Most of the type was damaged beyond usage. Raught estimated the
loss of his printing office at $4,500 ($ 115,385 today). He carried $2,000
($51,282 today) in insurance.
The flames, fanned by wind consumed the adjoining building owned by A.
F. Mau valued at $1,200 ($30,769 today). Art Welch's barber shop occupied
the first floor and Gustav Heimke rented the second story as a residence. The
building was insured for $600 ($ 15,385 today).
On August 20, 1893, Gus Schloter's home on Thi rd Street caught on fire
\:vhen a lamp exploded. The Lakeshore Depot on Second Street sounded an
alarm. By the time the Kaukauna F ire Department arrived the fire had spread to
four other ho1nes. Thirty minutes elapsed before the firemen could throw a
stream of water on the fire due to several broken lengths of hoses. Five resi-
dences burned to the ground.
Fear of fire consum ing Kaukauna 's business district was never far from
city officials' minds. Many of the citizens in 1893, remembered the south side
fire in 1883 and the north side fire in 1887. Yet no action was taken to insta ll a
water system and hydrants. The next major fire occuned eight months later.
On March 30, 1894, the fiery demon consumed six buildings on lower
Wisconsin Avenue. The fire started in the office of C. W. Larson's livery barn
when a kerosene lamp exploded. T he wind fue led the fire as the fire jumped
from one building to another.
The fire department responded quickly and concentrated on trying to save
additional buildings. When the fire was fina lly brought under control, fire had
consumed C. W. Larson livery barn with an upstairs residence, LeRoy Parkin-
son building occupied by J. H. Crown as a photograph gallery, Joseph Carney
building occupied as a saloon and residence, William Ferguson livery and sta-
ble, James Ryan building occupied by Mr. Buchotz as a bakery and residence,
and M. George's house occupied by the family of Mr. Van Ouclenhofen. The
McGowan ' s bui ldi ng was damaged on one side. Fire spread to Mr. Lawe·s
barn, but firemen were able to extinguish the fire and save the barn. All tele-
graphic conununications were shut off. Most of the light poles burned to the
ground and the electric light and telephone w ires were down.
No li ves were lost. A three-year-o ld child was rescued at the last minute
from Van Oudenhofen ' s house. All the horses were saved from the stables and
barns. The total loss was estimated al more than $ I 0,000 ($256,4 l 0 today).
29
Before the end of 1894, the city experienced two more major fires. On
September 28 three buildings on the island were consumed by fire and a fo urth
badly damaged. The alarm was turned in at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
The fire was discovered in the rear of the livety barn owned by Charles
Colwais. T he fire department was powerless to control the names aga inst the
wind. The fire department hook and ladder outfit stored in the Colwa is barn for
lack of room in the engine house was also destroyed.
Charles Colwa is '"'as forced to jump from the second story with a fi ve-year
-old ch ild in hi s arms. His arms and hands were burned . He lost everything
including horses, slei ghs and carriages and was not covered by insurance.
The brisk wind blew the flames to Fred Mundinger's bu ilding occupi ed by
Nick Faust and Sons as a residence and place of business and continued to burn
John Chopin 's residence. The Faust family escaped with only the ir clothes. All
the farm machinery, sew ing machines, organs, pianos and household goods
burned. Faust's loss was $4,500 ($1 18,421 today) and covered by insurance.
John Schultheis' building was occupied by E. McGahn as a sa loon and resi-
dence. The bui !ding was severely damaged by the fire.
As hot and dangerous as the fire was the people on the island were able to
get off the island. A sudden change in the wind carried the nying embers to the
river instead ol' the rema ining buildings. Later Thursday evening the fire de-
pa11ment was ca ll ed to Robert Hami lton's barn. It appeared that the fire was
exti nguished by the time the tire depa11ment arri ved and they returned to the
engi ne house. At 2 a.111 . the fire department was ca lled back to the barn. When
the fire department arri ved the barn was consumed in flames and cou ld not be
saved.
The second major fire occurred on October 19, 1894. A tire started in the
Nick Faust and Son' s bui lding, two doors from the Kaukauna Sun 's offi ce. The
fire started when Charley Faust broke a lamp in the building. He tried to extin-
guish the flam es with waler, but with no success so he tried to remove goods
from the building and linall y called the Kaukauna Fire Department.
When the fire department arrived the front part of the bui Iding was con-
sumed in flames and the front part of Herman Kramer's blacksmi th shop next
door was totally engu l feel in flames. The Appleton Fire Department was con-
tacted and asked to assist with the fire. The department sent one or their steam
engines. Engineer Fill er did his best to get up steam, but the App leton Fi re De-
partment engine was much s lower to fire up than Kaukauna 's engine since no
heater was attached to it. Once the engine was fired up, two strea ms were di-
rected on the fire and the fire was brought under control.
Nick Faust and Sons loss was at least $ 1,200 ($3 1,579 today), covered
with $600 ($8,553 today) insurance. Herman Kramer's loss was $325 ($8,553
today) covered with $250 ($6 ,579 today). Both rebuilt.
January 18. 1895. experienced another devastating major blaze which
seemed to visit Kaukauna at yearly intervals. The $35,000 ($945,946 today)
blaze demolished five bui ldings on the south side or Kaukauna. The business

30
block, or which south side citizens were proud of lay in waste.
About I a.111. night watchman Earles discovered fire shooting up from the
rear end or the Luther Lindauer and Jacob Rupert building occupied by G. W.
Fargo & Sons Furniture Store, and turned in the alarm. The building was locat-
ed on the south side of Second Street. The firsr unit to arri ve at the scene broke
in the front doors of the store and managed to save pan or the stock, but the
dense black smoke from the bu ming furn iture was so suffocaling that no one
cou ld re-enter the building.
En route to the fi re, the engine struck a snow drift, which put out the fire in
the fire box, delaying the raising of steam 15 minutes. By the time water was
secured, the fl ames had spread throughout the whole bui lding, and it was evi-
dent that the fire was out or control. The night was cold and windy, and the fire
dcparcment had hard work to control the fire. Much of the work done was due
lo the efforts or Mayor Tanner and Policeman Kuehn, who worked like beavers
and assisted and gave orders to the departments at opportune moments.
The 11nmes had gained headway in the Lindauer and Rupert bui lding be-
fo re the water was turned on. Aided by the large stock or combustible material,
the lire was beyond stopping and soon spread eastward to Jacob Rupert's ad-
joining building, then to the Falck building, completel y gutting the upper floors
of both.
At one time it looked as if the ,,·hole block was doomed. and the owners
and occupants of the buildings on Third Street in rhe rear of the fire packed their
goods and were in readiness to move as the flames threatened at any time to
jump over into the Farnier" s home and other structures in the rear. The brick
wal ls ol'thc Third Street buildings and the snow which blanketed buildings dur-
ing the night held back the !lames and heat. The bui ldings were saved.
The li re was under contro l at one time and it was thought the Fa lck build-
ing was out of danger, but the water in the reservoir gave out. Before it had
fill ed up sunicienlly from the artesian well the flames had started with renewed
life and the Fa lck building was completely consumed by the fire.
The devaslaling fire resulted in a loss of $35,000 ($972,222 today), which
was covered by about S 15,000 ($405,405 today) insurance.
The building on the west side of the Lindauer and Rupert bu ilding, ovvned
by Jacob Rupert and occupied by Sam Brenner's fruit store, was al most com-
pletely wrecked by the fall ing wall of the Lindauer bui lding. The brick crashed
through the roof and second story to the fi rst fl oor.
G. W. Fargo and Son's furniture store loss was $5,000 ($ 135. 135 today),
and was not insured. Fargo's policy had expired January 7 and was not re-
newed. A. W. Thoma . Jewelry Store, whose loss reached $ 1,200 ($32,432 to-
day), was covered with $1,000 ($27.027 today) insurance. Frank Barsch lost his
shoe store. The second story was divided into two halls in the rear and rooms in
the front. occupied by John Majeres, tai lor, and the Misses Diedrich, dress-
makers. Majere's loss reached $ 1,400 ($37 ,838 today) and was covered with
$400 ($10,81 I today) insurance. The Diedrich sisters had no insurance. The
halls were occupied by 11 lodges, the Ancient Order or United Workman,
31
Modern Woodmen of America. Independent Order of Good Tcmplars, Sons of
Herman. Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen and Ladies Aux iliary. Order Rai l-
way Conductors, American Protective Association, Brotherhood of Carmen.
Independen t Order of Foresters and International Association of Machinists.
All or the lodges lost a ll their property . The Ancient Order of United vVorkrnen
carri ed $300 ($8, I08 today) insurance, making them the only lodge to not lose
everything.
The Lindauer and Rupert bui lding was creeled al a cost of $15,000
($405,405 today), and was covered with $7,000($ 189, 189 today) insurance.
Jacob Rupert's building, housi ng a saloon, on the east siclc was almost a
total wreck and the walls had to be torn down. His loss on the bui lding was
about $2,200 ($59.459 today) with $1,500 ($40,54 1 today) and $600 ($16,216
today) on furn iture and stock.
The Fa lck bui ld ing occupied by .John Corcoran saloon suffered $2,000
($54.054 today) damage and was covered with $ 1,900 ($5 1,35 1 today) insur-
ance. Corcoran ca rried $600 ($ 16,2 16 today) on hi s stock of furniture , liquors
and c igars. Sato Brenner. the occupant, did not carry in surance on his stock.
John Wa lI's stock was severel y soaked with water.
The origin of the tire was unknown except that it sta rted in the rear end of
Fargo's Furn iture Store or in the hal l above. \\"here a lodge meeting had been
held the night before. Some citizens felt thal the fi re was or suspicious origin.
The Diedrich sisters reported that someone had been prowling around the hall-
way during the night, and they had at severa l times been tempted to raise the
window and ca ll the police. The sisters had just opened the window for that
purpose when the fire alarm was sounded . On Friday an individual who was
rel eased from an insane asylum in Minnesota, had app lied to .John Majeres for
work. He \Vas given permission to sleep in one of the rooms over night Loca l
citi ;:ens continued to believe the fire was intentionally set.
Foll ow ing the rire:
• Fargo moved into a vacant building until Lindauer rebui lt both build-
ings. He was the fi rst to occupy the new buildi ng in the same location
where his fu rniture store was located before the lire.
• Fra nk Fa lk rebui lt two of his bui ldi ngs.
• Fra nk Ba rtsch opened his shoe store in the shoe store recently vacated
by 11. E. Thompson.
• S:.im Brenner leased the Brothers building on Lawe Street on the north
side.
• John Corcoran reopened his business in lhc old Mayer saloon on
Crooks Avenue.
• The lodges either bui lt a hall or rented another hall. The Modern
Woodmen of American leased the upper story or the new bui lding bui lt
on Second Street fo r The Kaukauna Times O nice. and was fi tted up for
the lodge room.
• Jacob Rupert reopened hi s sa loon in the Schne ider building on Third
Streel.
32
• A. Thomas Jeweler held a fire sa le and established his headquarters at
the Corner Drugstore.
• The Diedrich sisters relocated in t\\·o rooms over the post oflice.
1895 saw one major fire in February. On Febrnary 16. 1895, the Haas
and Mcrbach Hardvvare Store on the corner of Crooks Avenue and Third Street
caught on lire. The alarm was turned in about I 0:30 p.111. and the fire depart-
ment quickly responded. Firemen managed to save the bu il ding, however,
stock was bad ly damaged. The buil di ng was insured fo r $3,500 ($94,595 in
today's money) which covered the lire damage.
A lier spending severa l months in di scussing purchasing a hook and ladder
truck, the city council in March approved the purchase. The cou nci l ordered a
Style o. 11 from Gleason and Bailey Manufacturing Company of ew York
for $875 ($2 1.341 today).
Tension developed between both fire companies and ci tizens started Lo
question whether Kaukauna's fire department was maintaining its equipment.
The men were volunteers and not all lived in the city. Times ed itor, Charles
Ra ught wasted no time in asking lhc city offic ials to investiga te the conditions
of the depa rtment. The Jul y 26, 1895, Kaukauna Times pub lished an article
listing the follow ing accusations and concerns about the volunteer fire depart-
ment.
• ls the department work ing harmoniously or is there a jangle at pre-
sent between the hook and ladder company and the hose depart-
ment?
• How many members or the department live on the outskirts of the
city - near Eden Park (west of La Follette Park), over the marsh in
the fi rst ward, or Beauli eu's hill, and how long docs it take them to
reach the engine house a l midnight?
• How many times a year does the company turn out for practice?
• When was the last time the hose was tested other than at a fire?
• What part of the company attends to coupling the hose, and which
part mans the nozzles?
• Was there any water in the reservoir at Haupt·s corner when the
alann sounded Monday?
• Are the roadways around the manufacturing districts ever exam-
ined by the department Lo ascertai n how hose wou ld be laid in case
of fi re?
• How many members J'o ll ow the instruction of the chic!'?
• How many do as they th ink best even if contrary lo orders?
• Would it not be advisable lo organize a new departrncnt?
• How many of the departmen t know the difference between an inch
ring nozzle and 1-1 /2 inch nozzle and the effect in using at a fi re?
• Is it advisable to wet down buildings near a fire and save them or
throw all the water on the tin roof of a burning building and let the
adjoining ones participate in the blaze?

33
On July 18. 1895. tire swept through the block that lies between Sara and
Doty streets. The fire originated from a lamp explosion in Frank Kloehn·s resi-
dence. The fire rapidly spread to buildings adjoining the Kloehn residence.
The fire deparrment could not contain the fire. In the end Frank Kloehn ·s resi-
dence, H. S. Tuttle 's store. four residences and six barns were destroyed.
Helf and Bri ll Brewery, located on the south side was destroyed by fi re on
November 2, 1895. The fire broke out in the boiler room about 6 p.111. whil e the
employees were at breakfast. Fire consumed the \vooden bui lding before the
fire dcparlmenl could control the fire.

Frambach Mi ll

Eagle Mill

34
Malone's Livery

South s ide business district

North side business district

35
Kaukauna 1886

Cou11esy Tom Duescher

36
Kaukauna Paid Volunteer Fire Department
Major Fires 1895- 1899
At the August 1895 city council meeting, members voted to disband the
old fire company. An ordinance was introduced and passed for a new paid de-
partment under a different system. The new department would consist of an
engineer, stoker, two teamsters, chiet: and l 2 firem en, all of whom wo uld be
appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council. The positions were per-
manent unless a fireman violated the by-laws. The salary was $50 ($ 1,3 50 to-
day) a yea r, payable semi-annually.
The ordinance described the duties of orlicers and members of the depart-
ment. Any fireman not answering roll ca ll after a fire was fi ned $5 ($ 135 to-
day) un less he could provide a good excuse. Roll ca ll was fi led with the city
clerk, who kept a permanent record. Any officer leaving a fire without permis-
sion from the chief " ·as tined S3 to S25 ($81.08 to 5676 today).
No intox ica ting liquors would be allowed at a ti re unless ordered by the
proper au thority and anyone furnishi ng it othenvise would be su bject to a tine
of from $3 to $20 ($81 .08 to $476.19 today).
On November 2, 1895, Henningsen's home and saloon building at Rose
Hill , just outside the city lim its, was destroyed by fire. The home was occ upied
by H. L. Faust.
Kaukauna was spared from major fires in the busi ness district through
1896. There were only two large fires. On February 22 the George Verbokle
residence on Beaulieu Hill was destroyed by lire and in May the Charles Kud-
der's house was destroyed by tire.
At 5:30 p.rn . on May 29, 1895, the Vi llage of Bril lion notified Kaukauna
Fire Department that a major fire was consuming a large pai1 of their business
district. The vil lage asked for help to fig ht the fire. Kaukauna firemen loaded
their fi re equ ipment onto a flat car and sent it to Bril li on.
When the Kaukauna Fire Department reached the scene a large portion or
the business district was in fl ames. The Reedsv ille Fire Department also helped
fight the li re. The fl an1es were brought under con trol after severa l hours, but
not unti l 27 buildings were destroyed.
July 25, 1897, saw the Badger Mill destroyed by tire to the extent o r
$ 150,000 ($6,944,444 today). The fi re started on the third floor in the large
room where old bales of paper were stored. The names had spread over the
entire upper story and broke through the roof. The night \\·atchman discovered
the fire while eating his lunch. He turned in the alarm at 11 :45 p.m . Ten
minutes later the fire department was spray ing a stream of water on the fire.
The main portion of the mill , together with the sulphite plant, could not be
saved.
Flames destroyed evc1y thing buLthe stone walls and a mass of tangled iron. The
portion destroyed contained a 500 horse power cutlass engine, three paper machines,
and a number or machines used to supply the machines with paper products.
37
The three-sto ry bui lding containing the sulphite plant, with a capacity of
seven tons daily, was destroyed a long with the wood house. The mill was
equipped \\'ith a sprinkling system. but the fire spread so quickly the sprinkler
was unable lo extinguish the blaze.
Badger Co mpn ny had invested $250,000 ($6.944.444 today) in bui ldings,
machi nery and stock and SI00.000 in land and accounts ($2.777 .778 today).
The company \\'as covered by 19 different insurance companies for a total of
5201,000 ($4,861.1 11 today).
The insurance was held in the American Lloyds and in branch compa nies
and covered the en tire loss.
• Mercantile $4.000 ($111 . 111 today)
• North River $7,500 ($208,338 today)
• Schu lki ll $5 ,000(S 138,889 today)
• Globe S I 0,000 ($277,778 today)
• New York and Boston $8,000 ($222,222 today)
• American Lloyds $59,000 ($1,638,889 today)
• Great Western $ 15,000 ($416,667 today)
• Empire City $5,000 ($138,889 today)
• Merchants and Manufacturers $5,000($138,889 today)
• New York $20,000 (5>555 ,556 today)
• Co lonial $ 10,000 (5277,778 today)
• Protective $5.000 (5 138.889 today)
• Underwriters$ I 0.000 (5277.778 today)
• New York State $2,500 ($69,444 today)
• American Lloyds $5.000(S 138.889 today)
• Washington $7 ,000(S 194,444 today)
• Broadway $5.000 (S 138.889 today)
• Traders' Fire $7,500 ($208,333 today)
• Agricultural $9,000 ($250,000 today)
• Total 201,000 ($5.583,333 today)
Badger Company was incorporated May 4, 1885, with the fol lowing offic-
ers: President, Joseph Vilas; vice-president and treasurer, H. /\. Frambach; sec-
retary, J. S. Vil as. The company had the distinction of being the largest paper
mill in Kaukauna and one of the largest in the United States. The mil l consisted
of a sulphite mill three-stories high, a ground wood mill, two-sto ries high, two-
story ol'fice building, boil er house, and a wood pulp room with seven grinders
invented by 1-1. A. Frambach. Owners were confident that a lire engine in the
basement with hose running to all floors reduced the danger from tire to a mini-
mum.
Area newspapers carried the news of the Badger Mil l fire and what a great
loss to Kaukauna. Several newspapers hinted that the rumor circulating was
that the mill would never be rebuilt. Citizens wondered if the great loss would
be the means or bringing about a settlement of thc water power question, \\'hich
for a number or years has been in litigation. The mil ls had appealed to the US
Supreme Court for the rights to divert water to their mills. The Green Bay
38
and Mississippi Canal Company insisted that they owned the water rights and
mi lls would need to pay a fee to divert the water. The court case took 50 years
to settle and was settled in August 19 12. Kaukauna mills and power company
were awarded water rights.
City officials believed the interests of the Badger Paper Company in
Kaukauna were too many to abandon, and were confident that the officers of the
company would not desert Kaukauna. lf the city would not tax them o ul of ex-
istence, the people of Kaukauna would see the mill rebuilt, and not only 100
men but probably 500 men employed.
In October the final appraisal and insurance payout fo r the mill fire was
paid to Col. Frambach. Before Col. Frambach left for Denver, he was asked
what his plans for the future of the mill ·were . He answered that he was contem-
plating several projects and couldn't say at the time.
Eight major fires occurred in 1898. On March 31 , 1898, a barn on Beau-
1ieu Hill belonging to Peter K ill ian was destroyed by fire. The Kaukauna Fire
Department responded to the fire and laid a line of hose more than 1,500 feet
over the hill and directed a strong stream of water on the barn. Up until now,
this was the longest that the depait ment had laid a hose. The barn was de-
stroyed.
Mayor Raught received a call al 5:45 p.m. on April J 4, I 898, for assistance
to fight a fire in the beater department at the Combined Locks Paper Company.
Kaukauna Fire Department loaded their tire engine and hose wagon on a flat car
and arrived at the plant at 6:35 p.m. The firemen added three streams of \vater
on the fire which was fina lly put out by 8 p.m. The beater department was de-
stroyed by the fire. Estimated loss was $35,000 (S972,222 today).
On August 8 the Frank Grezka residence on Sara Street, opposite Holy
Cross School, caught on ti re. By the time the fire department was ca lled and
responded a large portion of the roof and the rear of the house was consumed by
fl ames. The fire started from a chimney fire.
On August 2 151 at 1:30 a.m. Nagan 's Clothing Store located on the corner
of Dodge Street and Crooks /\venue was destroyed by fire. By the time the fire
department responded the entire build ing was engulfed in flames. Firefighters
were at a disadvantage because the old fire engine coul d not provide enough
pressure to fight the roaring flames. The brick veneered structure containi ng a
large stock of combustibl e goods burned like a tinder box.
The Nagan family resided in the upstairs apartment and barely escaped
with jusl the c lothing they were wearing. Firemen were concerned thal the fire
would spread to the Lehrer Brothers bui lding on the east side, but were able to
save the building. Nagan's Clothing Store was rebui lt
Fire destroyed the saloon and dwell ing of Frank Neuman on the island on
November 4. T he cause was a chimney fire. T he citizen reporti ng the fire by
telephone gave the address as the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Kaukauna
Street causing a delay in the response time. The high wind and long distance
that the engine had to go allowed the flames lo spread rapidly. November saw
two more tires. On November 6, H. £. T hompson's Shoe Store in the
39
Patten bui lding on Second Street was di scovered in !lames at 3:30 a.111 . T he
fire started in a store room over the shoe store, probably from spontaneous com-
bustion . The fire departmen t managed to save the bui !ding, but nol the stock
valued al $8,000 ($222,222 today). Thompson carried $3,500 ($97,222 today)
insurance divide among five insurance companies. T he shoe stock of Sa lm and
Verfuerth received waler damage to the exten t of $25 ($694 today).
A second fi re on November 6 involved the Duckett building on Second
Streel. The prompt arrival of the fire department saved the building from de-
struction. Total damage to the building and furn iture was $800 ($22,222 today).
The ice and warehouse of the He! f Brewery near Tenth Street caught on
fire on December 9, 1898. The bu ilding 75 x 50 feet, 18 feel in height above a
stone foundation, was almost completely destroyed. A large quantity of beer in
the fermentation process was lost. About 200 barrels of beer w ere saved. T he
loss was about $4,000 ($1 11. 111 today) and covered by insurance. The bui ld-
ing was rebuilt.
One major fire was reported in 1899. On April 13. 1899. al 11 a.m. a major
fire broke out at the Eden Park Resort. Since it was located outside of the city
limits the Kaukauna Fire Department could not respond. Eden Pa rk was located
on what is now the west encl of La Follcne Park and the Brill plat to the west or
the park. Eden Park Hall and adjoining build ings burned to the ground.
Thus passed into history what at one time was one of the handsomest summer
resorts in Wisconsin. The resort consisted of a two-story gothic styled hall with
veranda and balconies. landscaped gardens with statues. walking bridges. foun -
tains, ponds and a wi ndmill. A dock at the bottom or the hil l allowed excursion
boats to dock.
On September 3 in an early morning fire. a portion or John Majercs' build-
ing leased from John Madel was partially consumed by fire. Majeres, a tailor,
carried $300 (£8,333 today) or insurance and Madel $200 ($5,556 today).
The barbershop operated by Olsen and Thomas, located in the Majcres'
building. received minor damage. The fire department contained the fire in a
short time.
The Kaukauna Fire Department continued to battle small !ires and deal
with non-emergency issues such as cats stuck in trees. animals caught in a creek
and horses caught on the train trestle.
The water system was completed under Mayor F. M. Charlesworth's ad-
ministration in 1899. Ru les. regulations and rates for tapping into and using the
water were implemented. The project included 95 fire hydrants.
A July 14, 1899. Kaukm111a Times article titled "The Lion or the Fox'· stat-
ed:
"The city is provided with a good !'ire department and now has in running
order an $80.000 ($2,285,7 14 today) water works system. just compl eted."
Under the franch ise granted to Reese and Brier and their successors. the
City of Kaukauna agreed to pay $6,000 (S 166,66 7 today) per year for hydrant
rental. Kaukauna was faced with an option of payi ng hydrant rental for li re on
the franchise or acquiring the water works franchi se for $75,000 ($2,083,333
40
today). The city co unci l agreed lo purchase the Kaukauna Water Works Com-
pany in 1899.

A rrow points to the Lindauer building

___ i.. f. ... f!,,R I

Kaukauna Lumber Manu facturing Company

41
Outagam ie Paper M il l

Haas I lard\\'arc (note Princess Bowling Alley next to Haas)

I lcnry Henningson 's Home and Rose Hill Sa loon

42
North side looking east

Nagan Store

Kaukauna Times on Second Floor

43
Badger Paper Company

Inside o f Thompson Shoe Store

44
1900 - 1919 Decades
The Kaukauna Fire Department entered the 20th century battling numerous
small fires between the major fires. The major cause of small fires in lhe early
nineteen hundreds was chimney fires which damaged roofs and sometimes sent
sparks causing grass or shed fires. Many families used wood burners, oil stoves
and kerosene stoves which, if not properly cared for, caused fires from over-
heating and exp los ions. People tended to burn garbage and leaves in their
yards. Jn spring and fall the fire department responded to as many as three
grass fires a day.
Old barns and stables converted into garages were ripe for fires. Many
were run clown or packed with wood or materials which caused spontaneous
combustion. The car, by now, replacing the horse, tended to catch fire from
short circuiting and backfiring. Several small fires vvere started by children
playing with matches.
Weather played a major role in the fire department's response time and
ability to fight the fire. Rainy weather turned the main roads into muddy sink-
holes swallowing up the wagon tires and forcing horses to slow down or stop.
In 1907 the Kaukauna Fire Department was called to two fires in the marsh area
on the north side. The hook and ladder truck sank in the soft mud road to the
hubs a short distance from the Wisconsin Division Street Depot and had to be
dug out. After the mud had been removed, an extra team of horses was altachecl
to the hook and ladder truck and pulled it out. By the time the fire department
arrived, neighbors had put the fire out. Until Kaukauna constructed co ncrete
streets, fire trucks frequent ly became mired in mud.
Cold, snowy and be low zero weather caused hoses and firemen 's clothes to
freeze up. Water sprayed on fires covered the suITounding area and caused men
to slip and slide as they attempted to move hoses and equipment. When the
trucks returned to the department, hoses were hung over a tower to dry out.
This could take days and in the beginning the department did not have back up
hoses.
High winds helped save additional buildings from catching on fire when
blowing in the right di rection. Blowing in the wrong direction sparks spread to
surrounding buildings and started multiple fires. When this occurred firemen
tried to save the surrounding bui ldings and left the fire consume the original
building.
Avai labi lity of water vvas the number one priority. Houses at the edge of
the city or in the country did not have fire hydrants or water pressure. Water
was trucked or obtained from wells which dried up quickly. In 190 I a farm
house on Maloney Road caught on fire and burned. Two days earlier someone
had thrown soap in the farmer's well and he had pumped it out to get rid of the
soap. No water was available and firemen were forced to walch the fire con-
sume the house.
The te lephone was now a staple in many homes. Most people were excited
when reporting a fire over the phone and forgot to give the street or house
45
number. This caused delays in responding to the fire. Several times a year
Chief Schubert and later Chief Luckow reminded citizens what information to
include when reporting a fi re.
firemen performed a number or non-li re duti es. When two bats were dis-
covered in the fire house the Times noted how well the firemen handled the ex-
ercise to rid the fire house or bats.
"f our of them (firemen) , armed with brooms, set out lo make life misera-
ble for the bats. Esler was mounted on the fire truck. Francois was near the
front door. Ward was at the southeast corner of the bi g room and Specht was at
the northeast corner, watching and vva iting with brooms in their hands, for the
bats to fl y near them. Great were the swings which the boys sent at the bats and
many the misses, but finall y the contest ended with Esler's broom colliding with
one bat and Ward 's broom smashing the other one. So the ga me was over fo r
the time and the men acquired plenty or exercise."
Many times fo llowing a fire, the home owners showed their apprec iation to
the firemen for saving the ir property by bringing expensive cigars. home
cooked soup or desserts. During a major lire, espec ially in co ld weather. local
citizens continued to bring brandy or whi skey to warm up the Kau kauna fire-
men despite the fire ordinance against providing liquor to the fi remen.
In February 1903, the Kaukauna Fire Department was out in ful l fo rce in
their uniforms dri ving around the city . Foll ow ing behind was the Seli g Po l-
yscope Amusement Company, who was fil ming the department. The movie
picture was shovvn at the Kaukauna Opera House located on the island on Feb-
ruary 17. T he scene showed opening the doors at the engine house after the
sounding of the alarm and the departure or the fire apparatus lead by Chie r
Schubert. The scene shifted to a run down Third Street. T he several teams and
apparatus swung around the corner at Mi ll' s bl ock and started off at full speed
for Crooks A venue. The firemen sold ti ckets !o r the opportunity to see the
city's fire department perform on the big screen. T he performance was given as
a benefit for the fireme n who received a large share of the proceeds.
In May 1906 City Teamster John Beck fini shed sprink li ng Wisconsin Av-
enue to keep the dust down . Beck turned the sprinkler around on Canal Street
at the bottom of Wisconsin Avenue, intend ing to sprinkle Canal Street. One of
the horses started to kick, presumably because he was not dri ven lo the engine
house. (The engine house was located on Oak Street to the east 01· where River
View School is located). The horses swung around and started to cross the old
bridge. Ha lf way across the bridge, .John Beck lost contro l of the team. Four
feet from the wa ll of the Union Bag Mill the horses veered to the len, the sprin-
kler overturned and was demo I ishecl. John Beck was thrown against the stone
wall and fractured his leg.
Walter Cooper managed to grab the reins and quiet the horses . Several men
at the scene carried the unconscious Beck to hi s home on S<..:hu ltheis Street.
Until recovered from his injury, his position at the engine house was fi lled by
Owen E. Roberts.

46
In the early nineteen hundreds the ''annual fi re" in Black's woods on the
north side of the river bank (where Riverside Park is) was staited each spring.
The fire burned for about a week and spread a haze over the south s ide of the
city. The burn was done to help prevent fires which could spread to the large
homes on Wisconsin Aven ue. Citizens complained for a number of years until
the practice was finally di scontinued.
Over the past 14 years the Sun Edi tor, James Toner, urged Kaukauna City
officials and schoo l board members to incorporate fire drills into the school cur-
riculum. City officials and school board members paid little attention to his
request.
In 1907 when the state fire marshal! visited Kaukauna to investigate the
suspicious fire at the Glenn residence, the Sun Editor, Toner, interviewed the
Fire Marshall from the state on his view of fi re drills in schools.
The Fire Marshall was in favor of drills and felt that it should be part of the
school curriculum. He related that the previous week 400 chi ldren from Jeffer-
son, Wisconsin were endangered in a fire which broke out in their school. No
one was trained in what to do in case a fire broke out. It was j ust lucky that no
one was injured or died and the firemen quickly extinguished the fire.
He stated, "F ire drills are practically the only preventative step in cases
where scores of people are involved. A vvell conducted fire drill stands as the
bridge to safety in occas ions such as the Jefferson School fire. Cool headed
officials in charge or a well instructed body of children will avert panic nine
times out of ten and reduce to a minimum the possibilities of fatalities."
There is no doubt that the major reason that Kaukauna schools initiated fire
drills was because of the horrifie Collingwood fire which occurred on March 4,
1908, in Collingwood, Ohi o. What caused the fire at the school remains a mys-
tery. Three girls coming from the basement saw smoke. Before the janitor
sounded the fire alarm, a mass of flames swept up the stairway from the base-
ment. Before the children from the upper floors could reach the ground exit,
they perished in the fire. Rescuers were present by the hundreds, bul they could
not save the li fe of one chi ld, so dense was the jam at the foot of the stai rways.
On the first floor four rooms were in use when the fire started, and the children
on this floor escaped with few exceptions. They believed the ringing of the fire
gong was the usua l fire dri ll signal and marched out in order.
The number of pupils exceeded what the school was built for, and the
smaller chi ldren had been placed on the second and third floors. There was on-
ly one fire escape, and that was in the rear of the building. There were two
stairways, one leading to a door in front and the other to a door in the rear.
Both of these doors opened inward, and it was said that the rear door was
locked as wel I.
Unfortunately. the students during a fire drill always marched to the front
door, and the chi ldren had not been trained to seek any other ex it. The fire
came from directly under this part of the building. When the children reached
the foot of the stairs, they found the Ila mes close upon them and rushed for the

47
door and in an instant a tightly packed mass of ch ildren was piled up against it.
From that second none of those who were on any part o r the first flight of stai rs
had a chance. The chi ldren at the foot of the sta irs attempted to fi ght their way
back to the floor above, while those •vho were coming down shoved them mer-
ci lessly back into the flam es below. In an instant there was a fri ghtful panic,
with 200 of the pupil s fighting for their li ves. The greater parl of those who
escaped managed to turn back and reach the fire escape and the windows in the
rear. 165 children perished in the tire.
Within a year, a fire drill was held al Nicolet School. The drill was unan-
nounced to teachers and students. After eight drills. the S1111 Editor, James
Tone, witnessed a drill and reported that students were oul of the building in 55
seconds. He stated:
"Not one of the teachers or pupils know when lhe drill wi II be ca lled. they
may be on the floor in class. or in the rec itat ion room. There is no set lime.
The signal is a gong near the center of the main hall on the lower floor.
'·Standing in the halls one can hear a fain t hum from the closed rooms. At
the first stroke of the gong, a dead silence Ca ll s on every room. Al the next
stroke you can hear the ch ildren on their fee t. The outer doors are opened as by
magic. The boys having charge of this work are Rieve So lar, Raymond
Luckow, Joseph Borcherdt and William O' leil.
"The pupils in the two rooms nea rest the stairways come down single file
close to che wall, before they reach the bottom of the stairs, those rrom the other
rooms reach the top, down the broad sta irs they come at either encl, of the hall
four abreast. They cross the wide halls at a qui ck walk. no crowding, no push-
ing, no ta lking, down the eight or ten steps to the ou ter doors, and are in the
streets.
''At each of the four large ex its, when all are used, two grades pass out. one
goes up the side walk l 5 or 20, and the other clown. A L a second signal of the
gong they return, still in good order to their rooms. The chi ldren look as if they
enjoyed it hugely. ln 55 seconds from the ti rst strok e or the gong every one or
the 360 pupils were out of the building; in two minutes all were again in their
rooms. It is safe to say that wh ile Prof. Rupp is in cha rge, there wil l be no Col-
linwood disaster at Nicolet."
T he January 1909 city counci l meeti ng was a busy one lasting until after
1:30 a.m. in the morning. In addition to regu lar business, the council approved
the purchase of fire hose. Representatives Crom severa l companies demonstrat-
ed and explained the merits or their hose. The contract was tlnally awarded to
the Manha.tten Rubber Manufacturing Company for 500 Feet of cotton hose at
80 cents ($20 today) per foot. The New York Betting Company was awarded
the contract for 500 feet or wax gum thread hose at 90 cents ($23 today) per
foot.
The Police and Fire Comm ission was organized in 19 10. C. E. Raught and
E. T. O'Brien drafted the rules and regulations. Luther Lindauer was elected
president; C. W. Stribley, vice-president and E.T. O'Brien , Secretary.

48
The first order of business was lo fill the positions for the police and fi re
department. Selected for the fire department was Fire Chief. Henry Schubert:
Teamster on hose cart, Owen E. Roberts: Teamster on hook and ladder. H. Rau-
en: Firemen: Otto Kilgas. Albert Luckow. John Esler. Fred Wittmann, Henry
Esler. L. F. Vandenburg, P. G. Esler Jr.. J\rchie Langdon, Anton Hendricks and
Emi l Neuman.
Chier Schubert took the old lire engine purchased in 1885 out of its resting
place in lhe city building and had lhe firemen test it. The last test had been
done fi ve years earl ier. The engi ne's ab ili ty as a hydraulic machine showed the
engine lo be as good as ever. Two full streams were forced 100 feet high
agai nst a light wind. Chief Mc Gillan or lhe Appleton Fi re Department was
invited to observe the test and was pleased with the results.
In June of 1911 the hook and ladder truck was responding to a fire when
hit by the Lake Shore Division passenger train al 11 p.m. The engine struck the
rig just nhead of the rear wheels, cutti ng them off and badly twisting and dam-
aging the ri g which was thrown against the iron support of the street guards at
the depot side of the street. The iron support and guard were throvvn over
against a telephone pole. The horses broke loose from the hook and ladder rig
but ran on ly a fe w feet.
Driver Rauen and firemen Ollo Kilgas, Pete Esler and Joe Reichel were
thrown to the ground, two receiving deep lacerations to the scalp. Kilgas and
Esler were not injured. Rauen and the firemen explained that they heard the
whistle or the train just as they were leaving the engine house and expected it
wo uld have gone through by the time they reached the track. As a matter or
caution when they reached the bridge over the canal they looked up and down
the tracks very carefully, but could not see any approach ing train and drove on.
Ev identl y a view oCthe passenger train was hidden by a number of coaches and
box cars which stood along the tracks. The men stated that they never saw the
train unti l the engine was hit.
The lire the men were driving towards, was in a vacant store of the central
block next to the bank on Second Street. The hose cart reached the fire first and
quickly extinguished it. Little fire damage resulted.
Chier 1lenry Schubert started to publicize Fire Inspection Day in I 9 I2. He
personall y inspected every business place, includ ing cel lars. The report was
fo rwarded lo the state fire marshal. Stores were given a notice Lo eli minate
iclenli lied lire hazards.
In 1912 Lhc newly fo rmed Po lice and Fire Commission appointed John
Timmers to !ill the vacancy left by Tom Reardon, who moved away. Albert
Luckow was appo inted assistant chief of the fire department, P. J. Esler as cap-
tain or the hose wagon and Fred Freeman as foreman of the truck.
In August 1914, Kaukauna Fire Chief Schubert received a letter from the
Wisconsin Department of Insurance which stated Kaukauna·s per capita lire
loss was $2.55 ($58 today). The state insurance commissioner noted that the
loca l lire department "is an efficient and econom ical means of cutting down fire
losses and lire risks and that fire inspe<.:tion means lower insurance rates. " He
49
said that the fire department should insist that premiums be reduced as a result
of inspection and " ·ould help secure legislation to bring this about.
Chief Henry Schubert retired June I. 1915. He had been a member of the
Kaukauna Fi re Department for 29 years when citizens of the old days bought
buckets and ladders and made itself a volunteer fire brigade before Kaukauna
beca me a city. Schubert was chosen fo reman or the volunteer lire department.
When Lhc fire department was organi zed he became assistant tire chi ef. He was
chief continuously since 1898 and was chief at othe r times. altogether for a peri-
od o!' 2 1 years. Around 1915 Sch ubert was responsib le for making the switch
from horses lo a motorized vehicle.
Eight yea rs ea rlier, the December 12, 1907. Kauko11na Times noted that the
family of Henry Schubert's father had a record of long service as fireman that
was not equaled in Wisconsin , members having been in service since 1854. In
that year I len1y ·s fathe r joi ned the volunteer department at Sheboygan and re-
mained with it until ea rly in I860' s when he moved to Menasha where an older
son became a member of the vo lunteer department of that city. He continued
with it until Chief Henry Sch ubert moved to Kaukauna in 1879 and became a
member or the local department, co ntinuing in service since that time unti l his
retirement.
Ass istant Chief Albert Luckow was appointed Fire Chief in 19 15.
The city council struggled with the problem or buying I000 feet or hose al
the January 191 4 meeti ng. Several compan ies submitted bids. The desks of the
counci l members were pi led high with samples. After a lengthy discussion the
counci I voted to buy 200 feet of hose from each of the fiv e bidders, which in-
cluded three loca l firms.
In December 19 16 the city counci l voted to pay Hotel LaSa lle, located at
the top or the Lawe Street Bridge $50 ($ 1,04 1.67 today) a year fo r calling all
members ol' the tire department by telephone whenever a fire occurred.
In 19 18 the city council req uested Mr. Jordan of the Wisconsin Inspection
Bureau, Milwaukee to inspect the water works plant and the lire department and
give his recommendations to bring the city into lower insurance rates. Up to
this Lime. the City of Kaukauna had never had an inspection of its water supply,
fire departmen t. necessary alam1 system. fire preventions, and ordinances. In-
surance premiums were based on Kaukauna 's per capita fire loss.
Mr. Jordan 's report stated:
• T hree factors must be cons idered by the inspection bureau which
establishes insurance rates in proportion to a city's fi re- fi ghting
faci liti es. fire hazards, and lire prevention activity. These three
facto rs are the water works plant. the fire department as to equip-
ment and personnel. and the fire alarm system. This last is particu-
larly imponant where. as in Kaukauna. most or the firemen are
volunteers and must be called from their homes or their work in
case of a fire.
• Your water works is way in advance of the other two factors. You
arc on the right track there. Your lire department is not in keeping
50
with a city of this size. The alarm system is very poor.
• /\. city of this size, with the peculiar geographical condilions oughl
to have an automatic alarm box system. A si ren, he sa id, might nol
wo rk as it would where there were no hills and a va lley.
• An A. D. T. system of ca ll boxes could be instal led at no great ex-
pense. At the station the number of the box from wh ich the alarm
is sent in would be recorded, also at the water works plant, and a
bell ringing the number of the box nearesl lhe fire could be install-
ed in the home of the fire chief and in the homes of each fireman.
If desired, the system can be used by the night pol ice. who by
making regular ca lls at the boxes are sure to lind any trouble and
in that way keep the system in working order.
• The addition or one paid man, who shou ld be fire chief and give al l
the time to the depaitment, to inspection and fire prevention work.
was strongly urged. The add ition to the force and the installation
of an automatic alam1 system would meet the cily's needs at this
time.
• This will furni sh a general working plan fo r the ~l.1 ture develop-
ment and expansion without the loss of necessary investment or
the duplication of disconnected expenditures.
• Under the present system the water department has forged ahead of
other departments and it is now sought to co1Tect this and bring all
depa1tments to the bureau's standard.
The city council recommended that the report be used as a general working
plan for coordinating firefighting, fire prevention between the fire department
and water works depa1tment.
At the council meeting Chief Luckow repo1ted that fire chiefs at App leton
and Oshkosh preferred the separate rubber coats and boots to the union outfits.
The city agreed to purchase I 5coats and 15 pairs of rubber boots for lhe fire-
men.
At the August l 918 city council meeting the Poli ce and Fire Commission
recommended that a relief man should be appointed 'vho could act as a substi-
tute in the police and fire departments. Some of the aldermen opposed the rec-
ommendation on the ground of expense. while others thought the situation
could be fu lly met by taking off one of the two night watch men and givi ng the
remaining watchman the beat of both sides of the ri ver with the relief man .
would answer the city's needs.
No conclusion was reached to increase the salaries of the teamsters of the
lire department to around S80 (Sl,212 today) a month.
In November 1919 rumors sta11ed circulating that the Kaukauna Fire De-
partment would soon purchase a new fire truck. Immediately severa l compa-
nies scheduled time with the council to demonstrate and persuade the council to
purchase their truck. At the December 18. 1919. council meeting the Police and
Fire Commission submitted its report recommending the purchase of a White
T1iple Combination fire truck for $7 .200 ($96,000 today). John Coppes.
51
prominent citizen, was the agent for the White Company. The council was
divided on the proposition, five of the members voting for and the other fo ur
against it. The council committee favored the purchase of a Nash, and decided
to check the other types out.
When a vote was taken, Mayor Raught ruled that the city charter required
the purchase be made by ordinance enacted by a two-thirds vote and the vote
was five to four. The year ended without approval for a new fire truck.

Major Fires 1900 - 1919

1. Kimberly Clark Mill - Kimberly, WI.


The $400,000 ($1 l,l l l. , J11 today) fire in on January 31 , 1901, involved
the Kaukauna Fire Department, but occurred in Kimberly. The Kimberly Clark
Mill was consumed by fire.
Officials thought that the fire was clue to spontaneous combustion. Smoke
was seen coming up through the crevices in the fl oor at about 6:3 0 p.rn. by the
night crew of men who were coming off duty. There were about 75 employees
at the plant and when the whistle sounded the men rushed to their places at the
hose which was used by the mill's own tire department. For a Lime it was
thought that there would be no difficulty in putting out the blaze. Holes were cut
in the floor to get at the main part of the fire. The company 's equipment for
meeting such an emergency was very complete but officials soon real ized that
the mill department couldn 't handle the blaze.
Messages were sent to Appleton, Neenah and Kaukauna for help. Apple-
ton loaded an extra fire engine with a company of men and arrived at the scene
\.vithin an hour. The Kaukauna Fire Department responded immediately. The
department had no trucks and horses were too slow. Mayor Kuehn and a num-
ber of firemen loaded the fire engine and hose cart on the train and accompa-
nied it to Kimberly. Once at the fire there was no one who cou ld run the engine
and there wasn't a good place to set the machine. The hose was immediately
put into use. ll was so cold lhat the hose froze stiff and an axe was used to bend
it. One of the firem en, Jacob Reichel, sprained his ank le jumping from the train
car. The men worked through the night and unti l l 0 a. m. the next morning.
The fire worked its way through the No. l machine room and into the No.
2 and No. 4 rooms, consuming in its course the fini shing room where immense
quantities of paper awaiting sh ipment were stored. The fire ate away the fl oors
from under the heavy paper machi nes as one after another crashed through the
chaffed floo rs to the engine room belov,1. One machine struck a Corliss engine
which furn ished power to drive all four machines and tangled iron brass and
heavy rolls made a mass of debris making it was impossible to venture in.
Appleton Fire Chief Anderson assumed supervision of the fire and had the
fire under control within two hours. After getting the tire under control and still
working, Chief Anderson dropped over fro m exertion and heart failure and died.
Kaukauna Fire Chief Schubert when interviewed in later years. sa id he was the
52
last person to ta lk to Chier Anderson at the fire. ''Just before his death he
wa lked up and told me not to get under those beaters beca use the fl oor was
burning and he thought they would fal l at any time. Then he walked past me
and stai1ed up the steps. He dropped dead at the top or the steps."
News of the fire spread through the Fox River Valley and thousands of
people flocked to Kimberly by cars driving across snow drilled roads. Some
came by rail ca r. Nearly every empl oyee or the Kimberl y Clark Mill at Neenah
and Menasha hopped on a spec ial train to Kimberl y and offered their assistance.
Many of the mill's officials, including Shalluck. Babcock. Stuart and Kimberly
arrived at the fi re. Shattuck said that the mill was Fully insured and would be
immediately rebui lt.

2. Dan Crow' s Building on Second Street nea r Main Avenu e


On January I 0, 1900. at about 3 a.m. Dan Crow's block (building) occu-
pied by \Villiam Rusbolt' s barbershop burned. The flames sta rted around the
rear stairway and spread quickly to the roof. Dr. Quinla n, who occ upied the
seco nd floor in the Crow bui lding. was awa kened by the smoke in hi s room.
Arising he attempted to flee down the stairway. but the names were starting up
the stairway. Dr. Quinlan was forced to climb out the window onto the cornice
and enter through the window of the adjoining building.
H. E. Thompson Shoe Store on the west side suffered heavy smoke dam-
age. W. S. Mu lfo rd 's Cloth ing Store on the east side sustained minor damage .
Warsbasky and Cohen reported damage to their furniture in the rooms they oc-
cupied over the Thompson Shoe Store.
The stubborn fire was hard to subdue once it got under the roof and fire-
men worked with three streams of water for an hour before the lire was under
control. Total losses amoun ted to $2,000 ($54,054 today), partially covered by
insurance .

3. Charles Fa ust's Saloon and the Mike Ka ppel! Residence


On March 15, 190 1, Charles Faust's sa loon and boarding house and Mike
Kappell 's res idence caught fire. The lire department managed to save both
bui ldi ngs from being a total loss.

4. Victoria (Russell Brothers) Flour Mill Government Can al near E agle


Mill
The Victoria Flour Mill , common ly ca lled the Russell Brothers, situated on
the government canal was destroyed by fire on Jul y 5, 190 l. The mi ll was
closed down over the Fou1th or July. The intense heat in the closed dust room
resulted in spontaneous combustion. About 11 :30 a.111. there was an explosion
so severe that the engineer at the Electric Light Plant and the watc hman at one
of the mills felt the shock.
T he teamsters were the first to observe the fire and quickly turned in the
alarm. Owing to the heavy rain and accompanying peals or thunder and light-
ning few citizens responded to the fire. The alarm was sounded three times
53
before enough men responded. The men worked over an hour to get the smo l-
dering flames under control. Due to the intense smoke, the water did not reach
the main part of the fire and shortly before 1 p.m. the entire structure was in
fl ames. At I :30 p.m. the easterly wind suddenly changed clirr::ction and blew the
burning embers across the roof of the Union Bag and Paper Company.
The situation necessitated Union Bag and Paper Company to sound their
fire alarm and call their mi ll tire department into action. The men laid hose
about the south end or the plant and started their fire pumps. Five minutes later
the wind shifted again and the clanger to the mill was averted .
The Victoria Mill consisted or a three story wooden building, with a base-
ment, 70 x 90 feet in dimension over all , part of which was a two story 20 x 40
foot addition to the main part. The mill was built in 1880 by 0. A. Burns and
Company, and managed for many years by Thomas Reese. It passed into the
hands of the Frank Mills Company and in 1889 was bought by the Russell
brothers. In the previous two years the Russell brothers thoroughly overhauled
the mill and added machinery. The mill had a capacity or 125 barrels or rlour a
day which was shipped to all parts of the state as well as Michigan .
R.R. Russell decided not to rebuild and transferred the Russe ll Brothers
flour mill site to the Union Bag and Paper Mill along with the flour mill's water
rights. The mill erected a large addition to the south end or their plant as soon
as the fire debris was cleared away. The addition housed two paper machines.

5. Solar Manufacturi ng Company


On Jul y 3 1. 1900. the mill or the Solar Manufacturing Company was de-
stroyed by fire. The company manufactured fa nning mills, black boards, desks
and office fuminire. The Kaukauna Fire Department quick ly brought the fire
under control. The loss was S2.300 ($62 .162 today) of which insurance cover-
age was ~800 ($48,649 today).

6. Ed Glenn Residence on Lawe Str eet Lawe Street towards outskirts of


City
A chimney tire destroyed the residence of Ed Glenn. January 31. 1905.
Mr. Glenn·s home was on the outskirts of the city. and before assistance arrived
the building was engulfed in names. Firefighters could do little to save the
home and its contents. Both were covered with insurance.

7. A ugust Parman Residence on 'W hitney S treet


On November 25. 1905. August Pannan·s residence on Whitney Street
burned. The house \\'as covered by insurance.

8. William Glenn Residence located on Canal Street


On September 22. 1907. fire destroyed the William Glenn home located in
the Cooke Cottage on Canal Street. When Chief Schubert arrived at the scene.
he fo und the door locked. The Chi ef broke a window and entered the house
where he found a separate and distinct fire burning in three different rooms.
54
The fires were extinguished . This was the second lime Glenn's home was de-
stroyed by !ire of a suspicious origin. Chief Schubert reported the !'i re to the
state fire marshal. William Glenn had no idea who wou ld burn his house.

9. C harles Welte1·' s Smokehouse


The largest fire in 1908 ocrnrred on Apri l 9. when a smoke house ful l of
meat belonging to Charles Welter burned to the ground. Over 300 pounds or
ham, shoulders and bacon was destroyed.

10. '1rs. E lizabeth Dayton 's barn and livestock Nea r Sou th Side C ity Lim-
its
On August 17, 1908, about 10 p.111. lighting struck the barn on Mrs. Eliza-
beth Dayton's place near the south city limits, set the barn on fire and killed two
valuable cows and a horse. The barn was consumed by the fire along with two
tons of hay. feed, farm implements and a buggy wh ich belonged to 1larold Tan-
ner who was living on the farm .

11. Hoehne Machine Shop nea r Un ion Bag M ill


Hoehne Machine Shop burned on October 25. 1909. The chimney lo the
brass furnace overheated and set fire to the woodwork with whi ch it came in
conlact. The quick action of the fire depanment with two streams or water
saved the bui lding from complete loss. Estimated loss was about $2,000
(550,000 today) and was covered by insurance.

12. Isaac Ginsburg's Storn on Second Str eet


On October 27, 1909 Mr. Blake, a switchman, discovered a fi re al I a. m. in
Isaac Ginsburg 's store on Second Street. He awoke the occupants on the sec-
ond floor and then turned in the alam1. The fire department responded quickly
and had the fire under control within a few minutes. The smoke and fire did
$6.000 (S 150.000 today) damage to stock. The store was insured fo r $4,000
($ I 00,000 today) . Ginsburg moved into the buildi ng two months prio r to the
fire.

13. H enry W iedenhaupt R esid en ce on Tenth St r eet


A telephone call brought the Kaukauna Fire Department to the Herny
Wiedenhaupt residence on Ten th Street on .June 12. 191 0. in the evening Lo fi ght
a fire which was already raging out of control. The fire department was unable
to control the progress of the fire until it had destroyed the building. 'earl y all
of the furniture was saved. Mr. Wiedenhaupt carried insurance but not enough
to cover hi s loss. The cause of the fire was unknown.

14. Marble Works Comp any on T hird Street


On July 5. 191 1. fire broke out in a shed behind the Marble Works busi-
ness on Th ird Street. The fire started in a heap of coal and spread up through
the wall to the garret. Firemen had to break the outside door to gain entrance.
55
When Lhe water was lurned on, the hose burst and while a new section was
put in, the fi re spread the length of the roof, completely demol ishing it. The fire
jumped across to the corn ice of the John Corcoran building where it threatened
to destroy the building. The Corcoran building suffered severe water damage.
The Kromer barn, shed and saloon bui lding caught on fire. Firemen quickly
extinguished the fire and Kromer suffered I ittle damage.

15. Mankosky Residence on T aylor Street


The Mankosky House on Taylor Street was gulled by fi re on July 20, 19 12.
Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Anderson were renting one part of the home and Charles
Walquist occupied the other half.
The tire was caused by a defective gasoline stove. After lighting one burn -
er of the stove, Mr. Anderson discovered the gasoline leaking and covered the
bottom of the stove. This caught fire and fl ared up. Mr. Anderson tried to cany
the stove outside. Gasoline dripped down and caught the carpet ing on fire. He
tried to extingui sh the fi re by throwing a carpet over it, but the li re quickly
spread . Neither Anderson or Walqui st carried insurance. Both families suf-
fered large losses.

16. Kaukaun a Lumber and Manufacturing Company Factory and Mill lo-
cated on Isla nd S treet on the North Ca nal. Formerly Jansen Lu m ber Mill
On January l 2, 19 13. tlames destroyed the Ka ukauna Lumber and Manu-
facturing Company located on the island. Only the stone engine room and lum-
ber storage shed next to it was saved . The fire was discovered on the second
floor near the office around 12:30 a.m. by night watchman. Harry la Dau. He
was forced out of the bui lding by the rapidly burning tlarnes and turned in the
alann. Shortly after the fi re department responded. the departmen t ran out a
Iine of hose from the hydrant at the corner of ls land Avenue and Maple Street to
the mil l. For some reason the fi remen couldn't turn the water on from the hy-
drant and the hose cart was quickly sent to a hydrant on Oak Street north of the
pumping plant. Two lines of hose were strung from it to the fire.
After the firemen worked for a few minutes. it was evident tha t the dry tin-
der was feeding the fire and nothing could sa\·e the structure. The boiler house
at the north end was constructed of thick " ·alls of so lid stone and the fi remen
managed to cut off the fi re at the first stone wall and save the bo iler house and
lumber storage next to it.
The larger doors on the west side of the lumber company crumbled to piec-
es and fell. shooting an immense tongue of fi re into the bitterly cold night air.
impressing the large crowd who gathered to ,,·atch. The heat was so intense at
the height of the fire that it was imposs ible to stand closer than I00 fee t. In 2-
1/2 hours the fire destroyed the machinery. saw and planning mill , cabinet mak-
ing room and drafting room. The lumber yard and sheds escaped because they
were situated nearly a block from the lumber company. Damage was estimated
at $25,000 (S58 J,395 today) and was partially covered by insurance.

56
The fire was thought to have started by electrical wiring in the bui lding. One
railroad ca r containing nearl y $ 1,000 ($23,256 today) worth or qua Iity oak
stood near the mill, but was pushed to safety. A second car loaded with
coal caught on fire and firem en had ditliculty putting the fire out.
The company had enlarged the mill several times since ori gina ll y built in
1893. Two years pri or to the fire extens ive improvements were made a nd sev-
eral thousand dollars worth of new machinery added. The company employed
around 40 people and some of the men lost their personal tools in the fire.
Kaukauna Lumber and Manufacturing Company rebuilt and in May of'
1914 installed a complete fire suppression sp rinkler system. The system was
installed by mechanic and pipe litter P. J. Dunn of the automatic Sprinkler Com-
pany of America from Youngstown, Ohio.
The automatic sprinkler system saved the mill from another major fire in
July 1914. Fire started from an unknown source in the glue room. The sprin-
kler heads on the pipes opened when the heat reached a certain temperature. Al
the same ti me the sprinkler system set off an alarm heard by Peter Bergma n,
fo reman of the yard. When the location of the fire was fo und. the sprinklers had
completely extinguished the fire.

17. Holy C.-oss Church Corner of Desnoycr and Doty Streets


Headlines in the October 29, 1913 , Kaukauna Times reported .. Holy Cross
Church. the Magnificent House of God 11·hich Stood 01 the com er of Desnoyer
and Doty Streets. the Pride of £1·e1y Member of the large Co11gregatio11 who
assembled there regularly to 11·orship is today a mass of ruins, having been to-
tally destroyed byjire Wednesday night. ..
The fire was discovered by Police Officer James McFadden. who was
making rounds on the north side. oticing a light coming from a north window
of the church. Mcfadden went to the rectory to ask Assistant Pastor, Father Van
Bogaert for the key so he could turn off the light. Father Van Bogaert went to
the window to check on the light. He saw lire coming out of the window and
telephoned the fire department. Both men rushed to the church and entered
through the north door and went down to the basement into the auditorium.
Father Van Bogaert turned on the lights but could see no sign of fire. or-
ficer McFadden opened the door leading to the furnace and saw thick smoke
and material near the furnace on lire. Both men ran 10 a water faucet in the rear
of the basement and filled pails with water. After extinguishing the lire Father
Van Bogaert ran to the nun 's home and alerted them to the fire.
Father Van Bogaert then went lo the rear of the church and entered the
smokey sacri sty. The nuns and Herman Runte, Joh n Kline, .I. G. Feeler, Mr.
Berendt, Art Hilgenberg and Charles O' Boyle joined Father in remov ing the
ciborium containing the host. Just as Father Van Bogaert reac hed the altar, I 0
minutes afler the fire was discovered, the sanctuary lamp, which hung from the
ceiling by a wire cable, fe ll at his feet and a few seconds after, a sheet of name
shot down from the ceiling in the center of church. Plaster sta rted fa lling from
the ceiling and the fire continued spread ing through fro m the roof'. One of the
57
nuns litted the statute over the tabernacle down lo others who quickly carried it
out of church.
The fire broke through the roof and spread along the entire rooftop, light-
ing up the sky. Hundreds or people hurried to the scene and soon it seemed like
half the population surrounded the church as sparks fl ew off the roor toward the
business buildings on the nort h side.
By 8:30 p.m. the devouring flames had encircled the high towers and with-
in 15 minutes the large cross on the high steeple tumbled to the ground a nd on-
ly the stone wa lls stood. T he firem en we re assisted by the wind whi ch blew
directly south keeping the sparks and fl ames away rrom the school and rectory.
A drizzling rain fell during the day and most buildings were damp enough that
the sparks didn 't start another fi re. A sma ll barn beh ind the Fargo Store on
Wisconsin Avenue caught on fire and was immediate ly put out.
The pastor, ReYerend P. J. Lochman. was attending closing exerc ises for
40 hour devotion at Greenville. 12 miles away. The person who telephoned
Greenville church asked for Father Steinbacher and told him St. Maiy·s Church
was on tire. fa ther Le chman relt that it was Holy Cross Church burning since
he could see the reddened horizon in the direction or Kaukauna. He hurried to
the Green\'ille depot and caught the first train to Kaukauna. arriving at 9:28
p.m. to see his once beautiful church complete ly destroyed by lire.
The cause of thc fire was not certain. The fire chie l'idcntilied two theories:
one that it was caused from a defective fl ue or from the furnace setting lire to
the wood near it. The second theory was that it tarted from electric wires
above the a ltar since the sanctuary lamp burned away so early in the fire.
The fire department worked continua lly unti I the last sign or danger was
passed. The only person injured \\·as Frank Milschka. who fell from a ladder
and injured his wrist and ankle. He responded to the call for volunteers to assist
in fightin g the tire in the rear of the church.
The church and contents were va lued at $42,000 ($9 76.744 today) and in-
sured for S 16.000 ($3 72.093 today). The parish raised the rest of the money
and the church was rebuilt. St. Ma1y's Church on the south side notified Holy
Cross parishioners that they could attend church services at their church. St.
Mary's would not reserve seats during this time. I loly Cross rented a building
on Wisconsin A venue for services and school.
In the early days most north side Ka ukauna Catholics wa lked to Little
Chu te to attend services at St. John 's Church. In 1869 Catholics secured per-
mission from Bishop Meicher to erect a church on the north side. Holy Cross,
the first Catholic Church in Kaukau na. was erected and dedicated on December
26, 1873.
On September 2 1. 1878, Reverend .l . Rhode took charge and laboi·ed foith-
full y to build up the congregation. He bought additional land, enlarged the sis-
ters' house and school and in 1882, enlarged lhc chu rch . In 1885, those living
on the so uth side ol'lhe ri ver wiLhdrew and fo rmed St. Mary's congregaLion.
In I 897 plans were made to enlarge Holy Cross Church. The result was the

58
beautiful structure which burned on October 29, 1913. The structure was
144 feet in 1ength and 40 feet wide except lbe transept which was 80 feet wide.
The steeple was 125 feet in height. The church was rebuilt.

18. Kaukauna Paper Novelty Company


June 15, 1914, after 7 p.m. fire broke out in the Kaukauna Novelty Factory.
The fire was first noticed by Mat Miller, who lived near the factory. He turned
in the alarm and ran over to alert the men working in the lower part of the mill.
The Kaukauna Fire Department quickly responded and extinguished the
blaze. Loss was estimated at about $4,000 ($90,909 today) and was covered by
insurance. The factory was overwhelmed with orders and had started working
around the clock to catch up. Most of the stock •vas lost.
Five weeks later on July 20, 1914, the Novelty Factory's warehouse
burned. The alarm was turned in at 9:30 p.m. Four streams of water were di-
rected on the fire and firemen succeeded not only in saving the adjacent office
of Valley Lumber and Fuel Company, but managed to gain control of the
flames in the warehouse and prevent its total destruction. Loss to Kaukau-
na Novelty Paper Company was $1 ,500 ($34,884 today), most of it in stock.
The building owned by Valley Lumber and Fuel Company received $400
($9,302. today) in damages. The origin of both fires was unknown.

19. St. Mary's Church Rectory 119 W. Seventh Street


Sparks from a chimney damaged the residence of the Rev. F. X. Stein-
bacher. The fire was discovered at 6:30 p.m. F riday March 26, 19 15, by 11-
year-old Eugene Ditter, who turned in the alarm. The fire started in the west
gable. The roof and rafters of the attic suffered the most damage from the
flames. One of the second floor bedroom ceilings also burned. Water damage
was extensive throughout the home. Father Steinbacher and hi s assistant, Fa-
ther Schueller, succeeded in saving their books and valuable papers.

20. Dr. Tanner's Original Home corner of Quinney and Eighth Street
On October 28, 1915, the old Dr. Tanner home started on fire . When the
fire department arrived, the entire roof was ablaze. The firemen fought the
blaze for tlu-ee hours, pouring three streams of water into the burning home.
Most of the damage was confined to the roof and attic area. Four inches of wa-
ter remained on the main floor.
The home was owned by Fred Merbach, Hugo Wiefenbach and Anton Sad-
ler. The John Driscoll family had moved in two months earlier. Dr. Tanner
built the home 27 years earlier using the best materials. This was the first major
fire with Albert Luchow as fire chief and citizens folt that he did a good job.

21. Schermitzler's Boathouse on the Canal across from the Mill


Scbermitzler's boathouse, one of the neatest bungalo\.v boathouses on the
river, was completely destroyed by fire on June 7, J916. Preparations were be-
ing made fo r a party at the boathouse in the evening. The group in charge of
59
preparing the dinner for lhe party started the cook stove and went over to the
new mill for water. When they returned the bu ilding was completely engul fed
in flames. Total loss was $400 ($8,333 today). There was no insurance on the
building.

22. Royal Blue Shoe Store on Wisconsin A venu e


On March 3, 1917, fire which started ea rly in the morning gutted Lhe Royal
Blue Shoe Store building on Wiscons in Avenue. Night patrolman Mc Fadden
noticed the fl ames in the store about I:25 a. 111. and call ed the fire department.
The building was engulfed in flam es when the firemen arrived. Besides loss of
shoe stock, shoe repairing machinery and other property was destroyed by fire
and water damage.
Otto Woeckner. who operated the store estimated total loss at S6,800
($ 121.429 today). partially covered by insurance. 1-k stated that he wou ld re-
build as soon as possible.

23. Nugents Bijou Theater Lawe Street next to former Hotel Kaukauna
The Nugents Bijou Theater was destroyed by fire on December 28, 191 7.
Flames started in the film booth about the time the audience was gathering for
the evening entertai nment. Gera ld I larrington , the operator was showing the
last reel of the first program when the fi Im caught fire.
The audience exited in an orderly manner and no one was hurt. The fire-
men fought an intense battle owing to the high northwest winds. but were una-
ble to save the bui ld ing. Mrs. Nugent and her son. Wil liam, owned the theater.
The loss was estimated at $3.000 ($53,57 1 today) and was partially covered by
insurance. The theater was located south of the Veterans Memorial on Lawe
Street. In later years it was know n as the Rialto Theater.

24. Avenue Grocery Store Warehouse, Ba rn and John l<ircher ' s Barn on
t he corner o f Seven th S tt·eet and Main Avenu e
On Ju ne 18, 19 18, one big fire and several little ones on Tuesday at noon
threatened the neighborhood at the corner of Seventh Street and Ma in Avenue.
The fire started in a barn at the back of the lot of Avenue Grocery. The alarm
was turned in at 4:40 p.m. and by the time the fire depa rtment arri ved the fire
had spread to the back of the store used as a warehouse !or !lour, sugar and oth-
er groceries. The firem en directed a stream on the warehouse and used a chemi-
cal extinguisher to extinguish the f"ire. They were able to save the second floor,
which was Nick Hauprs res idence. Whil e righting the warehouse fi re, a chicken
coop caught on fire and threatened the residence or Orville Diemer, only a few
feet from the coup. Firemen managed to save the residence. The wind swirled
sparks across the road and burned a ho le in the old Sehom isch home, occupied
by the Herrington family. The house was six lots away from the barn where the
fire started. Volunteers moved the furniture from the house.
It seemed that the whole south s ide and part or the north side crowd re-
sponded to watch the fire. Many helped carry goods out of the vvarehouse and
60
helped the firemen with the hose. The damage was estimated at $1,800
($27,273 today). Rumors spread that children playing with matches accidenlly
started the fi re. The cause was listed as undeterm ined.

25. Henry J onen's Ba rn, Silo a nd Outbuild ings


On October 9, 19 I9, Henry .lonen's barn, parti ally lilied silo wi th un-
lhreshed grain, farn1ing tools, and implements were destroyed by !"ire. The loss
was $6,000 ($80,000 today). Joncn was covered with $2,5 00 ($33,333 today)
insurance. The threshing crew worked all forenoo n. and after lunch as they
were starting to thresh again the tire started. The men managed to save the
threshing machine.

27. Josep h Derus's Boardi ng Ho use a nd Saloon on the co rn er of Depot and


D raper S treets
On January 28, 1919. Joseph Derus's Boarding house and Saloon burned
down. T he blaze started around the chimney and roof and spread Lo the ki tchen.
The fire resulted in a loss of $500 ($6,667 today).

27. Jacob S hafer's Residence on south side of Town or Bu cha nan


Jacob Schaefer's home on the edge of town burned complete ly on Febru-
ary 17. 19 I9. Kaukauna fire Department was unable to render assistance be-
cause the house was three blocks beyond the city limits. The fire department
sent the chemical truck. The fire was thought to have started from a defective
Due and was discovered when sparks fe ll on the bed where a family member
was sleepi ng. The family member barely escaped with his life.

r tnnt tbe Kttuknuntl l·'ll1rt' Co .•

--
r1t
K:J.ui.auou. Wb.

Kaukauna Fibre Company

61
Nugent's Bijou Thcatcr after lire. (later Rialto Theater)

Outagamie Paper Company

62
,:,;~"
l'mon B;o,: t; l'•per )lfll Kanhun•, Wu. ~
;. . ..~
~

Union Bag and Paper Company

Thllm.a11y AllU, Kauuuoi. Wb

Thi lmany Pul p and Paper Company


==- zao:z=a

Holy Cross Church Fire

63
l
J Ho ly Cross
Church fire and
rebuilding 191 3

64
1920 - 1929 Decade
Municipal Fire Department Established

In l 922 the city disbanded the privately owned vo lunteer fire companies
and established a professional municipa l fire department. Eight full-time fire-
men were hired and split into two shifts. They worked 24 hours on, 24 hours
off, with no vacations, or holidays. The next year the Pol ice and Fire Co mmis-
sion approved two 12-hour shifts for the fire department. Shift I included Otto
Kilgas, Captain; Robert Heinen, dri ver and pumpman; 0. E. Roberts and Walter
Marzahl, hosemen . Shift 2 included Henry Esler, Captain; Charles Miller, driv-
er and pumpman; Archie Langdon and Edward Ward, hosemen. Albert Luckow
was fire chief.
The firemen were measured for new uniforms purchased by the city. The
uni forms were dark blue in color and included regulation caps. The suits, caps
and uniforms with extra trousers were purchased from the Royal Clothing Store
located on Wisconsin A venue.
The council voted to give the firemen a raise in 1926. Teamsters were giv-
en an increase of $ 10 ($ 130 today) per month. Firemen 's salary increased from
$100 to $110 ($1,299 to $ 1,428 today) per month and the two fire captain s in-
creased from $100 to $ 115 ($ 1,299 to $ 1,494 today) per month.
ln 1928 the Kaukauna firemen signed a petition which was presented to the
city council requesting an increase in pay. The firem en not only wanted a pay
increase, but a pay scale. The scale des ired was $ l I 0 per month fo r the first
year: $115 per month for the second year; $ 120 per month for the fo u1th year or
more of service. The Captains would receive $6 per month additional.
The firem en requested the san1e pay as other firemen in other cities in the
valley were receivi ng. A heated council discussion followed. Several council
members did not believe Kaukauna's firemen were paid less than those in near-
by communities. ln the end the city council voted LO retain the firemen 's salary
at the present rate.
The firemen and Police and Fire Co111111ission pers isted in req uesting a pay
increase. Al the February 1929 council meeting council members discussed the
issue for about four hours. This time the firemen presented the salari es of fi re-
men from Menasha, Neenah, Two Rivers and Manitowoc. Severa l aldermen
questioned the fact that some firemen held another job and firemen in other cit-
ies were forced to do janitor work in their city halls. One alderman noted that
Kaukauna firemen help in the municipal bui !cling and shou ld receive pay for
that time. In the encl the council agreed to set the pay according lo other cities
of Kaukauna's size. The followin g wages were approved: fire chief an addi-
tional $150 per year for inspection and $200 per year fo r chief duties; captains
$1,560 per year; first year firemen $ 1,320; second year or more $1,500.
Citizens started questioning whether Kaukauna could afford to have a bet-
ter fire department followed by "Can Kaukauna not afford Lo have a better de-
partment?" Once again citizens voiced concern that rad ical changes were
65
needed in the city's fire prevention system. They did not blame the firemen.
they blamed the lack of enforcement of businesses and homes in proper disposa l
of ashes, correctly insta ll ing smoke pipes, and keeping chimneys clean which
vvould reduce a large number of fires in the city.
In March. 1921, the city council approved establishing a fire prevention
board with three to live members. The board members would work in conjunc-
tion with the fire marshal and aid in the inspection of houses and buildings in
order to identify where the fire ri sks ex isted . In the end the counci l excluded
the inspection of private homes.
The Kaukauna Fire Department entered the 20s decade vvith the determina-
tion to purchase a new fire truck. The process of testing out fire trucks took
over a year before a dec ision was made. In September, 1922, the city council
ordered a La France I-ire truck for $ 12,000 ($64,384 today). The truck was de-
li vered in January 1923, after the fire department had moved into the new mu-
nicipal building at the bottom of the Lawe Street Bridge.
A large crowd gathered al the municipal building to w itness the assembling
of the new fire truck by La France workers. The truck could throw a stream
averaging 750 gallons a minute. which was adequate to control any reasonable
fire before it burned out of control.
Combined Locks purchased a sma ller La France fire truck at the same time
and joined the Kaukauna Fire Department in a demonstration of both new
trucks at the Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company. Water was thrown across the
canal fo r a distance of 350 !eel. Citizens were pleased with the demonstration
and felt that the city was fina ll y acqui ring " the machinery of a modern commu-
nity."
Jn February, l 924, the Police and Fire Commission purchased a11other new
fire truck from the La France Company. The purchase lowered the insurance
rating in the ci ty from 7 percent to the 5th class rating, the lowest possi ble rate
at the ti1ne.
The new fire truck was a 35 gallon champion copper tank outfit complete
with two extra acid receptacles, 2 poli shed nickel holders for the same, two
heavy duck soda bags. 200 reel of three- fourth inch La France special 4 ply
chemical hose coupled in 50 feet lengths, one chem ica l engine, shut off nozzle
with two lips each, one La France perforated steel hose basket, swinging type
and a swing chemical tank ends painted red and the body painted red.
The purchase price was $6,500 ($86,667 today). This time the firemen
assembled the equipment, saving the city a considerable sum of money.
Two years later in 1926 the fire department added a Reo fire truck. Mr.
Heimen, who worked at the municipal garage, rebu ilt the truck from an old Van
Abel Reo chassis. The truck looked brand new and carried 70 gallons of chemi-
ca ls with two extra charges to replenish the supply when necessary, about 700
feet of hose. and al l the necessa1y ladders. The truck was equipped with pneu-
matic tires instead of the hard rubber tires and could reach a speed of 60 miles
an hour.
In 1928 the Pol ice and Fire Commission approved replacing the large pumper
66
lire truck's hard rubber tires with pneumatic tires. The department purchased
two 40 x 8 inch heavy uuly casings and two 40 x8 inch inner tubes; three 38 x 7
inch inner Lubes, four wheels and ri ve interchangeable rims.
The decision to purchase add itional hose led to a lengthily discussion by
the city council in deciding \\'hich bids to accept. The council decided to accept
the cheapest bids. The lire department purchased 700 feet of hose for $ I .35
(S 18.49 today) per fool n·om the New York Belt Company and 300 feet from
the Corns Conveyor Company for S 1.12 (S 15.34 today) per foot.
Two innovations were added to the fire department during 1929. both tend-
ing to aid the firemen in their work. The first of these was the acquisition of
··goose-eggs'" or "S hure St.op" fire extinguishers, which consisted of chemical
enclosed in glass which co uld be dropped upon the flames in a chimney fire or
in flames between the walls and obtained prompt extinguishing acti on. The
bulbs acted automatically. the glass bu lb dropping lo the fl oor and smashi ng,
allowing the fluid to run over the fire when temperature reached a certain point.
Another improvement was the insta llation of a new alarm, which worked
automatically with the ringing of the telephone bell , and could be heard for a
long distance. In add ition to ansvvering alanns, the fire department also an-
swered all po lice calls ancr 7 p. m. when the ni ght police officers were on their
beat5.
One or the lirsl efforts or the Kaukauna Fire Department at joint planning
between loca l fire departmenLs was with Little Chute. The two fire departments
dec ided to join together and make hose coupl ings uni form between the two de-
patiments. In I924 Kaukauna, Little Chute and Appleton fire departments
could respond to !ires in one another's communi ty and were assured that hose
coup Iin gs would work on one another's hoses.
Over the years the Kaukauna Fire Department responded to fires outside
the city if requested by that city or vill age lire department to assist in fighting
large and diflicult fires. The problem arose when a homeowner or business out-
side the city limits requested the services of the fire department fo r a fire on
their property. Kaukauna tax dollars paid for the call , providing a " rree ser-
vice:· In November 1927 the Police and Fire Commission notified the city
council that they \\'Ould not be responsible fo r anything that happened whi le the
fire department was outside the city lim its as they were absolutely against the
practice. The cou ncil voted in favor or the fire department making runs outside
the city and would not hold the Police and Fire Commission responsible if any-
thing happened.
Area vi llages and citi es decided in March 1928 to meet and develop a co-
operative tire protection plan. The meeting was held at Little Chute and among
those present at the meeting were Mayor Sull ivan of Kaukauna, Village Presi-
dents Jansen of Little Chute, Malachi Ryan of Combined Locks, and Joseph
Doerfler of Kimberly and Fire Chiefs Albert Luckow of Kaukauna, George P.
McGillan of Appleton, Gregory Lenz or Little Chute, Peter Berghuis of Com-
bined Locks, and Alex Ma lcolm of Kimberly.
At the meeting the chic ls were named as a committee to formu late a plan
67
for cooperative fire fighting when assis tance was needed w ith difficult fires.
According to Chief Luckow, it was decided that if any fire broke out in any of
the towns represented at the meeting, and if the home department needed help,
it might obtain it by calling another city or village department but at all times
allowing one department, either Little C hute, Kimberly or Kaukauna to be on
call for any fire which might occur in the vicinity.
The question of the city fire department answering calls outside of the city
limits was taken up by the city council in October 1929. Joseph W. Lefevre,
city attorney, was instructed to investigate the regul ations in force at Green Bay
regarding out of town calls and report back to the counci I. The fact that fees
were charged in some cities for calls o ut of the city limits was explained, and it
was stated that if any of the firemen were injured or killed, no compensation
would be allowed, in Kaukauna's case.
The opinion was that townships could vote an appropriation fo r use in city
depa11ments that were called to help another city or they could carry insurance
on departments which would answer their cal ls. City Attorney Lefevre stated
that he thought Green Bay had regulations which provided for a charge of $35
per hour for the men and $35 per hour for the equipment used in fighting foes
outside of the city. Towns were willing to pay for protection and the council
decided to take it up at a later council meeti ng.
The next problem discussed by the communities was the question of roads
s uitable for use by the fire trucks. Mayor Sullivan called upon the county board
members to build the road from Combined Locks to Kaukauna, for they needed
good roads, especially for fire protection. Mr. Doerner promised that the first
road to be taken care of in the next year or two would be the Combined Locks-
Kaukauna highway.
It was also brought out that some means should be taken to protect the
Riverview Sanitarium from fire. This would mean taki ng care of the road lo the
building, and providi ng some means to get sufficient water there. The question
of country calls was also taken up with Chief McGillan of Appleton, stating that
it was of little use on a big barn fire, and there was never sufficient water ob-
tainable for the pumpers.
The last problem discussed was crowd control. When the fire alarm sound-
ed, a large number of citizens followed the fire engine to the fire. Indirectly it
was a form of entertainment and bad weather did not s low down the crowds.
T he fire chief repeatedly ·w arned that anyone running over fire hoses would be
arrested. This did not deter the thri!J seekers. When an alarm sounded drivers
in the vicinity of the fire department followed behind the fire truck and in one
instance hit the back of the fire truck. In 1926 the city decided to rigidly en-
force the ordinances and drivers were arrested.
"Keep off the lawns," Fi re Chief Luckow warned the ft re fans . Compl aints
from homeowners whose lawn and gardens were trampled by c itizens watchi ng
fires increased over the years. Starting in 1927 anyone \vho came to the scene
of a fire and trampled over lawns and gardens was arrested and fined $5.75.

68
In 1926 the Police and Fire Commission decided Lo discontinue the red
signal lights presently in use at the points connected with the YMCA on Second
Street and John Netsen's Confectionary Slore. The pol ice telephone extension
was placed in the fire department. wilh a red signal light set up in front or the
municipal building.
By the end of the nineteen twenties a majority or home owners had in-
sta lled a phone. The fire chief constantly reminded residcms that "a wrong
number would not bring firemen.'· Exc ited ca llers gave their telephone number
instead of a street number, gave incorrect street names nnd in severa l instances
reported a fire but hung up before giving the address or the fire. All or these
resulted in a delay in the fire department reac hing the fire.
Other areas of concern were road conditions and \Valer storage which the
city was slow to address.
The majority of minor fires occun-ing in the nineteen twenties were related
to chimney fires and grass fires. Open burning on property and campfi res along
with children playing with matches rounded out the main causes. The majority
of the fires could have bee n avoided by practici ng preventi ve measures.
In I 924 Police Chief McCarty and firemen Esler and Langdon resc ued
William Vils. 17. from the Fox River below the Outagamie Paper Company's
mill. Vils tried to swim across the river and \\·as carried by the rapid current
and sucked through a narrO\\. passage where he grabbed onto a rock. Fi remen
used a boat from the U.S. Government Fox Navigation Company and got close
enough to throw a rope to Vils. After several attempts the young man caught
the rope and was drawn to the boat and safety.
The fire department responded to severa l drownings in 1925. Firemen re-
sponded to the Edward Reed home at 426 West Seventh Street. Seven-year-old
James met a cold and sudden death by drowning when he fell into a cistern near
his home. The family discovered him mi ssing when sitting down for the even-
ing meal.
When found. his body was pulled from the cistern and a hurried ca ll was
sent to Henry Esler of the Kaukauna Fire Department. Es ler exhausted all pos-
sible first aid methods in an attempt to revive the boy. but they proved futile.
Esler then applied the department's pulmotor (an apparatus for applying artifi-
cial resusci tation) as a desperate last attempt to revi ve .lames. This also fai led
and the boy was pronounced dead.
James Cornelius drowned at the First Loc k and fireli ghters recovered the
body.

69
Major Fires 1920 - 1929
l. Kaukauna Machine Shop Hwy 41 (now Hwy 00) and Hwy 55
Kaukauna Fire Department responded to an alarm from the Kaukauna Ma-
chine Shop on December 14, 1920. The fi re started in the rear of the fo undry
shop. The firemen used chemicals to extinguish the lire. Damage was confined
to an area ot' four feet.
A month later the Kaukauna Machine Shop wou ld move into Lhe Moloch
Company Building.

2. Railroad YMCA C&NW Railway Depot north side of Second Street


across from East Wisconsin S avings
Fire broke out in the linen and bath room on the second flo or of the Rail-
road YMCA on April 17. 1921. at 8 p.m. One or the boarders opened the door
of the bathroom and thick. dense smoke poured out. Martin Johnson of the city
electrical department who was asleep in an adjoi ning bedroom was wakened
and called in the fire. The fire departmen t was quickly on the scene. two lines
of hose placed in position. one or which was turned into the blazing room from
the south and the other into a room on the north side or the hallway across from
the fire.
Although a chemical tire extinguisher was hanging on the wa ll outs ide the
bathroom no one seemed to recall its existence. By the time the fl ames were
extinguished the \\'OOd\\'ork in the hallway was badly scorched and the bath-
room destroyed. The damage \\·as conlined to the second story and beyond the
ceil ing and windows. The loss was estimated al a thousand dollars ($ 12.987
today).

3. Valley Pulp M ill (Also k n own as t he Kaukauna Fibr e or the Red Mill)
Fire destroyed the historic Valley Pulp Mi ll on June 23. 1921. The fire
was discovered about 3:30 a.111 . by the watc hman. The blaze sta rted in the
wood room in the conveyers where the chi ps and sawdust afforded first class
fuel for the names. /\tler trying to extinguish the blaze. the mill fireman turned
in the alarm. Approximately 15 minutes passed before the watchman contacted
the fire department by telephone, and by the time lhe firemen arrived on the
scene the tire was out of control. The lircmcn conccnt.ratccl their efforts on sav-
ing the woodp iles and the stored pulp from consumption by the names. Very
little wi nd prevailed at the time or else the disaster would have been much
greater. Sparks and burning ci nders were carried across the waler power canal
to the south side residence district, setti ng li re repeatedly to the r armcrs' Eleva-
tor and Sa m Norton's house which required the aid or the chemica l fire truck.
Other nearby residences were endangered by lhe !lying sparks and residents
were forced to organize a buckel brigade.
The fire department kept four streams or water on the burn ing mill

70
throughout the morning and allernoon bul it seemed as ir the wate r was merely
adding fuel to the fire. The two tall smokestacks were so seriously damaged
that they were taken down about 8 a.m. One, i r not more of the three digesters,
was completely destroyed and the rest or the contents or the pulp mill was re-
duced to junk and scrap by the heat or the flames.
The mill, one of the oldest in the city, was so sa turated by oil and grease
that it burned li ke tinder and fi remen knew from the starl that it would be im-
possible to save. The firemen were aided in preventi ng lhc fir~ rrom spreading
with the new $ l ,800 fire line whi ch had been installed by the city waler depart-
ment just the day before the fire.
The office building. pulp and 14.000 cords of pulp wood were all thar re-
mained. The loss \\·as a severe blow to the city's industrial life as ir was a
source of employment for 75 men. Citi?.ens hoped that the old mill would be
rebuilt since it was always a money maker.
The burned mill was the first in the country to n1ake hemlock pulp back in
the early 1890s when it was buil t by the late N. 1-1. Brokaw. On Mr. Brokaw 's
death the Kau kauna Fibre as it was known, passed into the hands of hi s brother-
in- law, Mr. Edmonds. who operated it until the mill passed in to the hands of a
receiver. the late Frank F. Becker serving in that capac ity.
In 1913 John Shure took over as manager and reorganized the mill and a
period of prosperity ensued \\·hich lasted until the business depression hit. In
1920 the mill was bought from Mr. Kieckhoefer by 1he Lakeview interests of
'eenah and on the transfer or the property on the lirs! or January became
known as the Valley Pulp mi ll. In ea rlier years the mill's payroll amounted to
$ 1 l,000 ($ 142.857 today) a month.

4. E rnest Martza hl 's Garage and Car Plank Road


The garage and Ford touring car belonging to Ernest Martza hl caught on
fire January 22 . 1922. at I I :45 a.m. and were completely destroyed.
Mr. Martzahl had been on a country trip and upon returning home, placed
the car in the garage and blanketed it. The fire started a few minutes later. The
garage was located a few feet from the house and firemen worked hard to pre-
vent the fi re from spreading to the house.

5. Martens Department Store Third Street


On March 23, 1922. Hugo Martens lost hi s life by sulTocntion in the disas-
trous fire which destroyed Martens Department Store. The lire started in the
basement and had been burni ng ~o r some time before the alarm was turned in al
11: 15 p.m. Dense clouds of smoke we re already pouring from the buildi ng
when the fire department arrived.
Hugo Martens arrived al the scene or the blaze, and made one trip through
the d1y goods department entrance into the smoke filled store in an effort to
save books and papers belonging to the !inn. His efforts were in va in. Hugo
found it impossible to advance into the bui lding fo r more than I0 feet without
protection of some kind from the choking, blind ing smoke. I le obta ined a
71
smoke mask later and made another try about 12 a.m. and it was this effort lhal
cost him his li fe. When he did not come out after 20 minutes three or fo ur vo l-
unteers offered to make all possible efforts to rescue him but due to the ad-
vancement of the fl ames and smoke this was not al lowed.
Julius Martens, upon learning of the dangerous predicament of his brother,
insisted on goi ng into the burni ng bui lding in an effort to rescue him . He had to
be fo rcibly detained from rushing into the building which would have mean t his
death as the grocery secti on of the department store was a seething furnace and
the olher section til led with thick, bl ac k smoke.
Mr. Schcrmitzler went into the burning bui lding with the aid or a rope in
an attempt to rescue Hugo Martens bu t was unabl e to locate the missing young
man. When fin ally found by Office r McFadden, Hugo lay about six fee t 1·ro111
the door, evidently findi ng it impossible to locate this exi t before his strength
gave out.
Mayor Raught sent a call to the Appleton Fire Department No. I about
12: 15 a.m. The Appleton crew was on hand and directing streams or water on
the flames 45 minutes later. The local fireme n worked valiantly throughout the
night. The aid of the Appleton men prevented the entire Second and Third
Street block from going up in fla mes.
The loss was roughly estimated at $60.000 (5821.9 18 today) covered by
524.000 ($328.767 today) insurance. The loss included the bui lding. the cl1y
goods and grocery stock and the furni ture of the J. J. Martens flat above the
store. Julius Martens recently replaced the furniture in his rooms on the second
fl oor with new furni ture, all of which were ruined by waler and smoke.
The Masonic Order and the Eastern Star had their lodge quarters in the
bui lding and whi le the lodge and chapter records were saved the furnishings and
regalia were a total loss. A $1.000 worth of rugs belonging to the Masons were
irretrievably damaged by the fire.
The department store was rebuilt.

6. Frank Bryan Residence in Black's Addition on the west end of the City
The residence of Frank Bryan in Black's addit ion was totally destroyed by
fire on June 3. 1922. from the explosion of a night lamp. The fire department
was called at 3 a.m. and although the chem ica l truck was sent to the scene as
soon as possible, upon arrival the Bryan house was virtuall y consumed by fire.
Mrs. Bryan and the five children stood in the adjoining fie ld clad in their
night clothes as the fire spread with such rapidity that they were barely able to
escape with their li ves.
The husband who was on night shift at the Th ilmany su lphate mill knew
nothing of the disaster until notified that he and his family were homeless.

7. Thilmaoy's Wood Yard on Thilmany Road


On July 5, l 922. fire destroyed a huge log pi le in Thi lmany Mi ll 's wood
yard. The loss was approximately $30.000 (541 6.667 today), full y covered by
insurance.
72
The blaze was seen about 3:30 a. rn. by several workmen employed at
neighbori ng mills. When Lhc lire department arri ved a short time later fla mes 20
feet high were eating their way into the ce nter of the mass. The wood pile was
located near the draw bridge and railroad tracks of the C. & N. W. Rai lroad and
consisted of eight and I 2 foot logs. Most or the pulpwood had been thrown in
the yard loosely from cars and was not yet piled. The fire ate its way rapidly
into the loose wood and e!Torls were later confined to keeping the llames from
burn ing th rough the wood which was nearest Lo the piles belonging to the Out-
agamie Paper Company and to the Thi lrnany Mill.
The C. & . W. Railway draw bridge. located about I 00 feet from the cen-
ter of the fire. was opened shortly after the blaze started to protect it from the
I-lames. Three lines or hose were strung from the Sulphite Mill and two more
from the Outagamie Mi ll but these streams combined with those tlu·own by the
fire department hoses had little effect on the flames which by 4 a.m. had eaten
their way into every part or the pile.
A call fo r aid was sent to the App leton Fire Department which responded
about 4:30 a.111. The Appleton engine on arri val pumped its water from the tail
race of the Outagamie Mi 11. 500 feet from the blaze. T his distance cut down the
throwing power of the engine and at 8:30 p.m. it was moved to the river bank
between the second and third locks which brought the engine to with in 150 feet
of the burning pile. The engi ne then pumped two streams of water making a
total of nine streams of waler being played on the flam es which were practically
under contro l an hour later. T he lire was entirely quenched by 2 a.m.
The extremely pitchy pulpwood furnished a fi erce and brilliant fi re which
attracted hu ndreds of people from the neighboring cities and expressions of ap-
proval for the skillful way in which the two fire departments handled the situa-
tion were hea rd on every side.
The extremely powerful play or waler caused millions of sparks to float
into the air and had a north wind or a west wind been blowing it would have
been impossible to save any or the wood belonging to either the Th ilmany or
Outagamie Mill and the loss or the new Sulphate Mill would most certainly
have occurred. A number or firem en narrow ly escaped serious inj ury when sev-
era l secti ons or logs caved into the center of' the pile.
The Thilmany Paper Mill and the Outagamie Mill men worked during the
fire until the next morning. The men assisted with the hose and watched the
wood pi les fo r sparks.
The Appleton Fire Department lcrt the scene or· the blaze about 1: 15 a.m.
when it was seen that all danger was past. The Kaukauna Fire Department re-
mained on the ground until late in the morning.
The pressure furnished by the local water works was amply sufficient for
all the streams thrown upon the lire, Supcrintendant J. 0. Posson said that the
plant was kept working to the limit or sa l'ety. Posson was in constant fear that
the heavy water pressure would blow up some of the city water mains. Due to
the unusually long lines of hose and the distance between the hydrant and the

73
scene of the fire, it appeared as though there was not sufficient pressure but,
according to Mr. Posson. the distance did not exceed 500 feet rrom the hydrant
to the nozzle of the hose whereas in this instance there were lines out which
extended to I ,000 feet and even 1,500 feet.

8 . .John Garlich's Bungalow in Black ' s Woods along the River


The bungalow belonging lo John Garlieh, located in Black's woods was
destroyed by fire on October 8, 1922, resulting in a loss or $7,700 ($I 06.944
today). The bui lding was partly covered by insurance. The bu nga low was built
several years earlier by Charles Towsley and Joseph McCarty and had been re-
cently redecorated and a leanto added. Mr. Garlich rebuilt the bungalow.

9. Woelz Bakery on W isconsin Avenu e


With the mercury well below zero the fire department was ca lled on De-
cember 3 1. 1922, at 2:45 a.m. to 'vV. F. Woclz's bake ry where a disastrous fire
completely gutted the two story brick veneered bui lding. Mrs. Pennink and a
young girl employed in the bakery and Bert Rademacher, an employee o r the
Thilmany Pulp and Paper Mill. occupied the upstairs rooms and so rapidly did
the flames spread that they barely escaped with their lives and lost all their
clothing and household possess ions.
The firemen soon had the tire under control stopping it from spreadi ng to
the nearby buildings. It was thought that the fire originated from a defective
chimney. Mr. Woelz recently bought the building which was partially CO\'ered
with insurance . The Butler-Di etzler hardware store next door suffered slight
,,·ater damage. fire men fe lt that if there had been any wind at the time. the en-
tire block stood a fair chance or being swept by fire.

10. J ohn T imm ers Farm Implem en t Office and Wa rehouse on Main Ave-
nue opposite t he Municipal P laygrou nds
On August 16. 1923. the John T. Timmers· Fann Implement oflicc and
warehouse building was destroyed by fire. The lire broke out just before mid-
night and resulted in a loss o r $ 12,000 ($164,384 today) part ly covered by in-
surance. The building was constructed of material taken from the old Kaukauna
Machine Works. which formerly occupied the site and was wel I soaked with oi l
and grease The cause of the tire was spontaneous combustion: the hot after-
noon sun shining down through a window onto n pi le of wasle which some
hours later burst into flame.
The fire was a fierce one. The dense clouds of smoke pouring o,·er the
north side of the city woke up people from their sleep and drove them out 01110
the sidewalks seeking fresh air.
The firemen who were quickly at the scene or the fire were unable to see
even for the few hundred feet between the city headquarters and the burning
building and were forced to grope their way in darkness. Fighting their way to
the south side or the bui lding, they soon had the fire truck work ing al f'ull

74
capacity but to no purpose. Flames were breaking out at some new point every
minute. Apparently a can of kerosene or gasoline exploded and the liquid fire
spread over the e ntire lloor, and water merely added to the intensity of the fire.
After severa l hours of hard work the fire was subdued and the charred
frame left standing, a mute witness to John Timmers ' attempted to improve the
one-time unsightly lot on which the defu nct Kaukauna Machine Works and the
Moloch Company had fo rmerly stood. Mr. Timmers planned to rebu ild just as
soon as the insurance adjusters comp leted thei r vvork and the bui lding permit
was issued.

11. Goldin's Department Sto1·e on Dodge Street


A well known department store was wrecked by flames and water on July
5, 1924. On Saturday evening al 11 p.m. , children discovered that Goldin 's De-
partment Store was on fire and gave the alarm. The fire department, which was
incorrectly notilied of the location of the fire, was headed off in time by fireman
Owen Roberts and reached the fire scene shortly after the alarm was given. The
flames had acquired considerab le headway in the rear of the store, in the cloth-
ing department and it took nearly an hour of hard fighting to subdue the fire.
The store was virtually wrecked by fire and the water. Mr. Goldin estimat-
ed his loss at between $8,000 and $10,000 ($ 106,667 - $133 ,333 today). Unfor-
tunately he had dropped $10,000 insurance several months earlier because he
always reduced the amount or insurance carried during the summer months. He
rebuilt the department store.

12. W. C. Ditter & Son Plu mbing Building on Second Street


A fire in the plumbing shop of W. C. Ditter and Son was caused by an ex-
plosion of some kind in the chimney of the furnace on January I, 1925, at about
8:30 a.m. There was considerable damage to the basement and rear of the first
floor nearest Look Drug Store.
The explos ion thre•v open the furnace door and flames spread to pieces of
lumber and other highly combustion material s nearby. It burned up through the
bathroom, destroying that room and wal ls. The fire was discovered by Mr.
Palmer, the janitor, at the Fa rmers & Merchants Bank, who turned in the alarm.
Damage was about $2.000 ($26,66 7 today).

13. M. Henter Farm I-louse on Darboy Road


Fire of unknown ori gin destroyed the house on the M. Henter farm on
March 12, 1925. The homestead which was occupied by the Carl Kober fam ily
burned to the ground. Mr. Kober and family barely escaped after awakened
by the frantic barking of their clog. The Kaukauna chemical truck made the run
to the fire, but was of littl e use against the headway the flames had made.

75
14. A. R. Firehammer Garage and Truck on West Seventh Street
On April 9, I 925, the garage and truck of A. R. Firehammer was totally
destroyed when a truck backfired, causing an explosion which soon wrapped
the building in flames. Besides the truck, a number of toys stored there were
destroyed. Mr. Firehammer barely escaped as the flames spread so rapidly.

15. Henry West Home on Town Line Road


The Kaukauna Fire Department, on January 14, 1926, at 11 a.m., was
called to the home of Henry West. For three hours, they battled a strongly-
fanned blaze that totaJly destroyed the eighl-room dwelling and threatened to
ruin the nearby farm buildings. Mr. West arrived home in the evening after
spending the day visiting away from home and found his home in flames. He
was obliged to walk about a quarter of a mile before he could gain access to a
telephone since his own telephone had been cut off by the blaze. By the time
the local department arrived on the scene after a six-mile run, it was impossible
to control the fire.
The department used all possible means to prevent further destruction by
keeping the blaze confined to the dwelling. Only a few pieces of furniture were
saved from the ruined building. The origin of the fire was unknown, but it was
supposed that it was caused by an overheated furnace.

16. Little Rapids Pulp Mill


Fire at the Little Rapids Pulp Mill sent calls to the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment and the Wrightstown Fire Department at I :40 a.m. on January 14, 1926.
Starting from a hot box on one of the sprockets on a core wheel, the flames
started up the wood sprockets and quickly grew to alarming proportions before
the firefighters were called to the scene.
The Wrightstown pumper was called into service, and firemen from that
town, aided by the crews of the Wolf and the Fox government boats, along with
the Kaukauna firemen, gained control of the fire after a hard fight. About two
hours elapsed before the flames were completely extinguished. The two gov-
ernment boats, whose crews aided in the firefighting, were unable to get close
enough to do any work with streams from their pumps. The mill was forced to
close for several days for costly repairs.

17. Yellow Front Shoe Store on Second Street


On March 7, l 926, one of the most disastrous fires in years destroyed the
Yellow Front Shoe Store in an early Sunday morning blaze.
Sam Swerdlow, owner of the store, and his family i,.vho lived in the apart-
ment on the second floor of the building, were aroused about 12:45 a.rn. by Ed
Bedat, proprietor of a soft drink parlor in the same block, who noticed smoke
pouring from the burning structure. The fire had gained headway in the back
part of the upper story. Escape to the stairway leading downstairs was almost
impassible. Gathering his little boy in his arms, Swerdlow and his wife finally
made their way to the street in safety. If the family had been aroused a few
76
seconds later, they would have been trapped in the burning bui lding.
The fire department arrived immediately following the a larm with al l the ir
trucks and after a hard battle finall y got the flames under control. By 4 p.m.
when the final inspection of the building was made, the fire was apparently out,
and the damage was approximately S 12,000 ($ 155,844 today).
At 4:45 a.111. the fo llowing morning J. Buechal, was passing the building
and noted that the fire had restarted. He immedia tely sent in the alarm. When
the fire trncks arrived, the structure was a mass of flames and with great di ffi -
cu lty the firemen prevented the destruction of the ne ighboring buildings.
The stock and bui lding was a total loss, along with the entire furni shings o r
the Swerd low apartment above. The loss "vas partially covered by insurance.
Mr. Swerdlow planned to rebuild the structure, and in the meantime lease an-
other building in which to carry on his business.
City fireman Carl Engerson was overcome by the smoke while fighting the
tire but it did not affect him seriously until he reached hi s home, when he fo ll
unconscious. He was treated at home by a physician.

18. Joseph Jansen Barn , Two Small Buildings and Ga r age on Pla nk Road
to the South of St. Mar y's Catholic Cemetery
On July 30. 1926, a barn containing hay and implements. a garage and two
other small buildings belonging to Joseph Jansen about one-ha lf mile outside or
the city limits, were completely destroyed by lire. The house was saved .
When the fire department arri ved the blaze on the barn had gone too far to
make it possible to save the structure, while the garage was completely de-
stroyed.
The large pumper truck, \\·hich was equipped with chemicals. was then
dispatched to the scene. and although no water was available. the chemical tank
did a good job. Under the direction of Capt Henry Esler. two streams of chem-
icals were poured upon the house. More than 150 gallons of chemical was used
on the flames.
Many neighbors helped remove the furnitu re. The hea t was so intense. it
was impossible to stand near the building. Bystanders were forced back almost
I 00 yards a\\·ay and still felt the heat.
The fire was said to have started in the garage which was used as a wash
room. The boiler on the kerosene stove boiled over. causing the kerosene to
spread.

19. Moloch Company on Tobacnoir Street


Fire caused damage amounting to about S50,000 (S657.895 today) to the
foundry of the Moloch Foundry and Machine Company Street in an earl y Mon-
day morning blaze on April 12, 1927. The fire drew hundreds of spectators to
the scene. The fire department fought the fire for fi ve hours. Al most the entire
foundry was gutted. The west end of the bui lding was the hardest hit by the
fl ames. Although the loss was great and most of the n1achines and patterns
were destroyed. R. M. Kanick. company president, stated that work in the
77
foundry would probably start later in the week. T he least damaged end of the
building would be fixed up first to enable the vvork to go on. The machine shop
vvas not damaged and did not shut down.
According to the fire report three unidentified men in the county had seen
the fire , and when they arrived at the scene they found that no alarm had been
sent in. Immediatel y rushi ng Lo the tire department, they turned in the alarm
about 3:30 a.m . The firemen responded in a short time. When they arrived, the
blaze had evidently been burning fo r several hours and it was some time before
it was brought under con trol. Two streams of water were poured into the build-
ing for about fi ve hours. T he department returned to the station about 8 a.m.
The pattern shop of the foundry was completely destroyed and the roof was
entirely burned. The steel girders became loose and made the work of fighting
the fire very hazardous.
Since the reorganization or the loca l plant, about I00 men were employed
and a large number of orders had been received necessitating adding a night
shift. According to the plant president, the machine shop would continue work-
ing on the 24 hour basis and it was expected that within one month the foundry
would be working full time, with the entire building being used.
Repairs were started immediately and a number of moulders who were em-
ployed at the plant were used to help clean up the debris. Representatives of the
company which installed the huge crane used in the foundry immediately start-
ed repairs. Although the building which housed the foundry appeared to be a
complete wreck after the fire, on ly two hours of work was lost by the foundry
men.
M.embers of the Kauka una Fire Department praised the treatment accorded
them by Mrs. Art Schubring. The Schubring residence, which was immediately
across the street from the Moloch plant, was a rendezvous for the firemen dur-
ing the fire and immediate ly a lier. Mrs. Schubring served them cups of steam-
ing hot coffee, sandwiches, and cake.

20. Fechter Two-Apartment Home on Wisconsin Avenue


Fire broke out at the Fechter home on Wednesday, July 22, 1927. at about
3 p.rn. The two apartments were occupied by C. J. Hansen and E. C. Fenison.
The fire started from sparks from an outside source and burned a large hole in
the roof. The fl ames we re extinguished by the Kaukauna Fire Department.
There was extensive water damage. Damage was estimated at $2,000 ($26,316
today).

21. Hugo Goese' s Hudson and Essex Cars and Garage on the corner of Sev-
enth Street and Kenneth Ave.
Two cars, a Hudson and Essex, owned by William and Hugo Goese, were
totally demolished by flam es on April 4, 1928, al I 0: 15 a.m. The fire started in
the Essex. Hugo Goese had run the Essex into the garage and when turning off
the motor ignition sw itch the Essex, backfired.

78
Mr. Goese tried to starl the Hudson to run it out of the garage, but was una-
ble to do so, and without any help could not push the car from the building. The
work of fighting the flames by the Kaukauna Fire Department was greatly ham-
pered by a gaso line explosion and the dense smoke. The gas in the vacuum
tank of the Hudson explodcct, sending the hood complete ly off the machine and
forcing fl ames for I 0 feet to the si des of the car. The chemica l truck was the
first to respond, but as the flames were then very high, the large truck was need-
ed.
The Hudson owned by Wi lliam Gocse was not insured. The policy expired
a few days before the fire. I lugo Goese's Essex was covered by insurance.

22. Peter J . Brill Home Town of Bucha na n abo ut two blocks ou tside the
city limits
The fi re departmen t responded 10 a fire on May 14, 1928, with total prop-
erty damage estimated at about $8.000 (~I 06.667 today). The fi re totally de-
stroyed the Peter J. Sri 11 residence.

23. Henry Gloud eman Farm House Two ~ il es :'llorth of Little Chute
The fa nn home of Henry Gloudcman was completely destroyed by tire late
Tuesday afternoon. The prompt acti on of the Kaukauna Fire Department and
firemen Owen Roberts and .I. McM orrow, who responded to the call, saved the
barn and other build ings from destruct ion. The loss was estimated at about
$8,000 ($ 109,589 today) with on ly a sma ll part covered by insurance.
A gasoline engine on a pump, located in a small addition to the side of the
house, was the cause of the lire. The burning gasoline sent a streak of fire into
the atlic. The only water avai lable was at the pump where the fire started and it
was imposs ible LO fi ght the spread of the !lames throughout the bui lding.
The Kaukauna Fire Deparlment was called and the chemical apparatus re-
sponded. Effo rts Lo extingu ish the blaL:c in the house were fu ti le because the
fire had too great a start. Firemen turned their attention to sav ing the barn and
other buildings.
The fire was discovered by Mrs. Gloucleman , who called in the alarm. A
group of neighbors assisted in carrying out nearly all of the furniture. It had not
been decided by Mr. Gloudcman whether or not the house would be rebuilt.
Mayor Sulli van. in commenti ng on the work of the local department at the fire,
stated that the prompt response given by the Kaukauna Depa1tment was in di-
rect line with the system or aiding fa rmers of the surrounding community when-
ever possible.

24. C hicago and North Western Railway Company the corner of W est Sec-
ond Street a nd Main Ave.
The January 22. 1929, fire of unknown origin caused great damage to the
Chicago and North Western Railway Company's Ashland Di vision depot. The
entire roo r was destroyed along with most of the interior. The brick walls

79
remained standing. The fl ames were discovered around noon by employees of
the local shops who were on their way home to di nner. It was seen through the
windows of the baggage room and probably started in that portion of the bui Id-
ing or in the men' s washroom. No one vvas in the building at the time the
flames were discovered. but the agent was quickly notified, and succeeded in
getting the tickets from the ticket ofli ce. Reports and cash were in the oflic e
safe.
Four streams of water were directed on the fire by the Kaukauna Fire De-
partment which responded with both trucks. The fire gai ned its greatest head-
way shortly after it was discovered in the baggage room and in a short time this
section was completely destroyed. The cupola was the nex t part consumed by
the fla mes which was fanned by a thirty-five-mile an hou r wind. This gale, to-
gether with the snow which was Oying and the rapidly lowering temperature.
made fighting the fire difficult.
An investigation fo llowing the tire showed that the en tire west end of the
building, composed Mthe baggage room, the men 's wash room and one wa ili ng
room were rendered roo ness by the flarnes. T he ticket office was flood ed with
water, but otherwise unharmed by the fire. The east wa iting room was undam-
aged; the ceiling remained intact but was fl ooded by the large amount of water
poured into the structure. Fire damage was estimated at S6.000 ($80.000 to-
day). The flames evidently started in the west end of the building and worked
their way up into the auic which extends over the entire Ooor, directly benea th
the roof.
P. R. Maginnis, manager of the loca l rail way YM CA hotel, and 0. J\.
Fiedler, local railway head, provided firemen fight ing the depot fire in the bliz-
zard cups of steaming hot coffee . Temporary repairs started on the building
immediatel y after the fire. The roof over the east end of the building was re-
paired and this area was used as a waiting room. wi th the ticket offi ce in its for-
mer position in the center of the structure. A temporary ti cket office was pro-
vided in the YMCA hotel building adjacent to the depot.

25. Henry Pascben 's Barn and Machine Shed Four a nd One-Ha lf Miles
South of Kaukauna, off High,rny 55
A loss estimated at about S 15.000 (S200.000 today) was caused on Sep-
tember 16, 1929. ,,·hen fi re completely destroyed the barn and machine shed on
the Henry Paschen fa rm. Only the work of the chemi cal truck together wi th the
labor of two local firemen who were ca lled to the scene saved the granary and
house.
The blaze started at about 8 p.m. \\'hile the Paschen fami ly was visiting al a
neighboring fam1. Mr. Paschen had helped fill a silo at that fam1 during the
day. He returned in the evening "·ith hi s fa mily fo r a short visit and some ext ra
work which had remai ned unfinish ed from the afternoon. While at the neigh-
bors, the famil y noticed a blaze and after a short dri ve to see where the fire was

80
discovered that it was at thei r home.
By the time the family arrived back home the barn was in flames, the fire
evidently started in the well- filled hay mo·w. Mr. Paschen succeeded in releas-
ing two horses whi ch were tied in the barn. Effo11s were made to get a new
wagon, loaded wilh flax seed out of the barn, but were unsuccessful. A large
stack of straw wh ich was pi led close by, as threshing had just been completed,
also burned, and was sti ll smoldering the next day.
A call to Kaukauna Fire Departme nt brought the chemical truck with Cap-
tain Heniy Esler and Fireman Eel Ward to the scene. A ftcr much work the
house and granary, in which much grain was stored , were saved from the
flames. The buildings and equipment which burned were partia lly covered by
insurance.

26. Blacksmit h Shop of Kaukauna G r ound Wood Pulp Company on t he


Island
The old blacksmith shop of the Kaukauna Ground Wood Pulp Company
was entirely destroyed by fire December 3, l 929, Saturday morning at 9:30.
The building which was burned was located close to a building in which a large
amount of dynamite was stored. Firemen of the Kaukauna Fire Department.
who were called to the scene. battled the flames in the cold weather and pre-
vented them from reaching the shed . No estimate of the loss was made, the
damage resulted in the loss of some mach inery stored in the bui lding and the
strncture itself.

Kaukauna Paper Company

81
Arrow points to Feebler store and apanmenls

Moloch Manufacturing Company

YMCA next lo south side trai n depot


82
1930 - 1939 Decade

Duri ng the l 930's the Kaukauna Fire Department experienced two fire
chiefs retiring and a third chief was appointed. In February 1933, Albert
Luckow, fo rmer fire chief of the Kaukauna Fire Department, s ick for six days,
died from pneumonia. He was employed 42 years with the fire department and
also was a well-known Kaukauna contractor and builder.
The Po lice and Fire Commission temporarily appointed Owen. E. Robe1ts
fire chief.
In November Mrs. Albert Luckow sought compensation for the death of
her husband. She charged that Albert died as a result of contracting pneumonia
while fighting a fire at Union Bag and Paper Company in January 1933. On
February 24, 1933, the board of trustees of the Fireman Pension Fund moved
that the board instruct City Clerk Wolf to pay Mrs. Luckow her husband's pen-
sion, reduced to one third of her husband's salary begin ning March 1, 1933.
Fire Chief 0. E. Roberts, 65 years old, announced thal he would retire May
31, 1934. He was a member of the department for 28 years and had the distinc-
tion of being the only Kaukauna fireman in the history of the department contin-
ually on duty. When Roberts joined the fire department. the department was
housed in the city hall building on Oak Street, behind what is now River View
School. The department had two pieces of equipment: the hook and ladder en-
gine and the hose cart. Horses were used to pull the equipment. Al that time
two men were stationed at the tire department with the other members on call.
A part paid and vol unteer department was in effect. At the time of Owen Rob-
ert's retirement there were eight paid firemen and a chief at the department at
all times.
The Police and Fire Commission decided to give two members of the de-
partment an opportunity to act as ch ief of the Kaukauna Fire Department for
three months. The two men were Henry Esler and James McMorrow. In No-
vember the Police and Fire Commission selected Henry Esler as the new tire
chief of the Kaukauna Fire Department. He was a 30-year veteran having
worked under Chiefs Faust, Schubert and Luckow. Esler started with the de-
partment in 1896 when Fire Chief Joseph Faust gave him a job. At that time the
department did not own a team of horses and the engines were pulled by hand.
Between 1910 and 1919 Esler moved to Brillion and worked as a volunteer
in their department. He moved back to Kaukauna in 19 19 and Fire Chief
Luckow hired him back in the department. Henry Esler was known as an ex-
cellent ice skater and entered ice skat ing competitions. He coached his grand-
daughter Alice Esler Ludke and her close friend Rosemary Meinert. Both girls
won local skating competitions.
The first priority discussed at the Janua1y 1930 city counci l meeting was
whether or not the Kaukauna Fire Department should answer rural fire calls.
This topic was also a main concern to neighboring cities and villages. Several
aldermen were concerned that the city •vould be responsible in the event of an

83
accident with the fire trucks or the death of a fireman unless some arrangement
was made. The council had been wailing for the Green Bay Council to pass a
ordi nance, but Green Bay 's fai lure to do so caused the local aldermen to instruct
the city clerk to ask the municipalities' league advice on the proposition.
Neenah was considering charging towns fees when their fire department an-
swered calls outside the city limits.
In February officials of various towns met and discussed a proposed ordi -
nance for responding to calls outside the city.
Farmers decided to take their own action to provide their own fire protec-
tion after the city and towns could not come to an agreement. The attitude to-
ward a farm fire was generally one of doom. It was considered an incident that
happened and nothing could be done about it. The un fo rtunate farmer often lost
his house, barn and personal property. Once telephones were available fire
trucks responded in a shorter period of time. They obtained water from tanks
with a windmill , or a deeply drilled well.
Nearly one fourth of the national fire loss al this time occurred on fa rms.
The annual loss was estimated at $ 100,000,000 ($ 1,400,450,704 today). In ad-
dition to farm property, raw materials, foodstuffs and taxable property were
lost. Families became homeless.
The largest number organ ized to aid fam1ers was under the classification of
community departments. l f the truck was owned by a town, the rural inhab it-
ants had a w1illen agreement for Lhe service of the fire truck. The understanding
between vi llage and township was that the village housed the equipment and
would maintain it if the township provided needed maj or equipment and acces-
sories.
ln Februa1y 1930, a group of farmers living near Apple Creek decided to
purchase a fire truck and organize a fire district. The Village of Hortonville
eventually established an agreement with local farm ers to house a truck and
provide some firem en to go with the truck if there was a tire. Each township
prov ided 20 vo lunteer firemen scattered throughout the area. In case of a fire in
Greenvi lle township, 20 volunteer firem en from the township were notified and
rendered their se1vices.
In April 1930. the voters of the Town of Buchanan gave the town boa rd the
power to enter into an agreement with the City of Kaukauna to obtain fire pro-
tection for the rural residents. The ci ty council debated the issue for the next
several years, without a definite decision until the March 1933 council meeting.
Alclem1en approved Ordinance No. 318 restricting the fire department from
making tuns out of the city limits. The ordinance stated:
"The fire department shall 1101 make fire runs out of the limits of the City of
Kaukauna. unless 1he 1mn1ship shall pass an ordinance and forward a copy
thereof to the ci1y clerk of Kaukauna, \\'hereby said to11·11ship agrees 10 µc~r 1he
sum of one hundred do llars for each run made by the Kaukauna Fire Depcir1-
111e 111 in said toivnship and nven~v-Jlve dollars for a run }or each false alarm . ..
A copy ol' the ord inance was sent to the townships of Kaukauna, Buchanan
and Vandenbroek. When the Town of Buchanan received the ordinance, the
84
citizens voted iL clown and could no longer uti lize the services of the Kaukauna
Fire Departmen t.
The city fire depart ment received endless criticism for refusing to answer
alanns in towns and villages in this vicinity. The depai1111ent and city council
maintained that fire protection and the use of materials, firemen and equipment
should be of some worth lo the towns and villages and that their ordinance was
a just ordinance.
The Nytes fo rm home on Co unty ZZ in the Town of Buchanan was con-
sumed by fire in May 1934 . Citi :.:ens were upset since they fe lt the home could
have been saved by the Kaukauna Fire Department if the To\\'n of Buchanan
had voted in favor of the agreement submitted to the town more than a year ago
by the Kaukauna City Counci l. When the call came into the Kaukauna Fire De-
partment the ca ller was told that the depar1ment could not respond unless the
mayor gave perm ission because there was no agreement. The ca ller contacted
the Mayor and permission was granted, but by the time the Kaukauna Fire De-
partment responded, it was too late.
In January of I93 5 the city council received a letter from John Grafmeier,
chairman of the Town of Buc hanan and signed by all the town offi cials req uest-
ing fire protecti on. The town would pay Kaukauna Fi re Department S 100
(S 1,587 today) fo r a ll re ru n ancl $25 ($403 today) for a fa lse alarm run. T his
was the same amount the lire department received in the past. The money
would be placed in the firemen's pension fund. Aldermen did not accept the
agreement unti l I937. During the years the question of rural runs was discussed
and the city aldermen wanted to con tinue not providing fi re runs to adjacent
cities.
Fi re Chief Esler reminded the council that the agreement was made be-
tween citi es and villages Lo help one another out in case of a fi re at no cost to
the city. Mike Gerharz. chairman or the Fi re and Police Commiss ion stated that
the agreement would hold even i r fire protection to adjacent towns was discon-
tinued.
At the same time the Village of Little Chute Board voted not to provide
fire protection 10 the Town or Vandenbroek after local attorney Allen Cain re-
por1ed that since Little Chute had only one fire truck, it would not be advisabl e
fo r them to go outside the vil lage limits.
Jn July of 1937 the city council received a letter from Anton De Witt, clerk
of the Town of Va ndenbroek asking fo r fire protection. Va ndenbroek would
agree LO pay the City or Ka ukauna $ 100 fo r every run to that town. The cost
would be evenly spl it between the Town of Vandenbroek and the property own -
er where the fi re occurred .
The Kaukauna city council voted at the November meeting that the fire
department would no longer make fire runs outside the city limits. Since 1935,
the department answered ru ral alarms providing the person who owned the
property where the fire occurred paid S I00 a run or $50 for a false alarm. The
city had a written agreement with the Town of Buchanan and the fo llowing

85
individuals: Frank Klochn, Forest Mitchell, Sylvester Esler. who owned the Nit-
ingale Ballroom, and Ben Hartzheim .
The Town of Buchanan board chai rman appeared at the August 193 7 city
counci l meeting requesting continuance or the li re protecti on plan. He remi nd-
ed council members that most of the people in the Town or Buchanan did busi-
ness with Kaukauna merchants.
An alderman asked Chief Esler what other cities were doing in regard lo
rural mns. Esler told the council that rural communities around Fond du Lac
and many other cities in the state had purchased firefight ing equipment that was
used for fire runs. Most equipment consisted of a large tank capable of holding
several hundred ga llons of water and a small pumper to pump water out or cis-
terns and \Veils.
Town of Buchanan Chairman Frank Schmidt told the counci l that the pur-
chase of equipmcnc would require a vote by the town' s people at the next elec-
tion which wasn't until April 1938. He asked if Kaukauna would extend the
tire protection until after the election. The council referred the mailer to the
Police and Fire Comm iss ion , who ended up recommend ing extending lire pro-
tection until the town ·s citizens voted. The council approved the recommenda-
tion.
The plan was that the Town of Buchanan would purchase a $3.500
($57 .377 today) fire truck and park it at the Kaukauna rire Department. When
there was a fire run to any place in the Town of Buchanan the Kaukauna lin:-
men would take the truck to the scene of the fire. The town wou ld pay the city
S35 ($574 today) a run. The Town of Buchanan wou ld insure the truck.
Kaukauna was permitted to use the truck within the city any time it was needed.
The to,,·n would pay for all gas and oi l used in the trnck and necessary repairs.
The city would pay for all gas and oil used in the truck when the tmck was used
in the city. The town ,,·ould pay the insurance and workmen 's compensation
insurance.
Town of Buchanan voters approved the plan and the purchase or the truck.
Kaukauna and Town of Buchanan were to sign the agreement at the May coun-
ci l meeting but the agreement was held up. The City or Kaukauna received a
notice from the fire insurance rating bureau of the state. which advised the city
not to enter into agreement. stating that this action might increase fire rates in
the city. After checking with the state and discovering that there would be no
increase in fire rates the city passed the agreement with an effecti ve date or .lune
1, 1938.
The new fire truck arrived in July and two days later made its first run for a
fire started in an automobile owned by Andrew Sprangers near Darboy. The
Kaukauna Fire Department demonstrated the new truck at Holy Angels Church
picnic and Chief Esler presented a lec ture on "Your duty in the e\'ent or fires.'·
Tbc Town of Buchanan taxpayers were proud or their new truck. The truck
included two chemica l extingu ishers. two Indi an fire pumps. 600 feet or 1- 1/2
inch hose, 150 feet of 2- 1/2 inch hose, a siren and spotlights.

86
In 1939 the Town of Kaukauna and the Town of Vandenbroek requested
service using the Town or Buchanan fire truck from the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment. The TO\vn of Buchanan voted unanimously to offer protection to adja-
cent towns providing an agreemen t wi th the ci ty in regard to the amount
charged fo r each run coul d be reached. The Town of Buchanan would charge
the towns $ 100 for each run made with the Buchanan fire truck. In May the city
council discussed the proposed agreement at several meetings and fi nally re-
ferred it back to the Police and Fire Commission. The year ended wi thout any
action taken.
Throughout histo1y firemen were noted for the excel lent meals they pre-
pared without any cost to the department. Kaukauna Fire Department was no
different. In the nineteen thirties the firemen hosted an annual '"Booyah
Wednesday.'· All the firemen. city orticials and the ciry nurse were invited.
Chief cook Owen E. Roberts was we ll known for his famo us booyah . The
chicken and beef was supplied by Leherer's Meat Market. The cost was a
"heartfelt thank you'· from the lircmen. The firemen su pplied the potatoes, veg-
etables. rye bread and butter. plates and sil verware . .Jimmy McMorrow peeled
the potatoes and carrots and Roberts added the necessary seasoning and correct
amounts or ingredi ents. Six gal lons or soup was served.
The fi remen were noted fo r their tasty wild game meals. Fireman Carl
Engerson and his brothe r Police Orticer Harold Engerson and Smokey (Melvin)
Mainville from the Electrical Department line crew provided deer and small
wi ld game. City officials and many workers eagerly looked fo rward to these
mea ls.
The firemen took great priclc in their fire engine house. The men installed
new matting on the stai rs and repainted the floo rs. The men washed down the
walls and cei ling of the fire ckpartmcnt quarters yearly.
In 1930 the Izaak Walton League ol' Kaukauna owned a 500 acre game
preserve northwest of the City or Kaukauna near the Black homestead. The
members planted 1,000 pheasants. /\bout one eighth of the area caught on fire
and spread to the marsh area. The Kaukauna Fire Department was called to the
scene with the chemical truck severa l times to ex tinguish surrounding grass
fires and contain the fire to the marshy area.
/\ dense smoke from the burning grass and underbrush covered the city for
several days unti l the wind changed direction. The fire drove the pheasants to
an area that wasn't burn ing. Most of the pheasants were eventuall y turned over
to the State Conservation Commi ssion.
Eight-year-old Eugene Nytes drowned in the Fox Ri ver in May 1936. He
and a friend. Jack Weber. noated away from shore near the third bl uff in a row
boat. Weber j umped out or the boat and swam to shore. Eugene jumped out
and tried to S\\·im and disappeared under water. The fire department was noti-
fied and immediately started sea rching for the body which was located an hour
later. Firemen anemptcd to resuscitate Eugene, but it proved futile.
Chief Hen1y Esler continued to stress the importance of tire safety during
the holiday season. Some people stil l decorated their trees with lighted candles.
87
He recommended changing to electric lights. If using electric lights, Esler rec-
ommended checking the wiring and making sure the bulbs were securely in the
sockets. Ci tizens should place thei r Chri stmas tree in a pan or water and use
non-flammabl e decorations and avo id Santa Claus whi skers and elabornle chil-
dren's costumes. Don't accumulate wrapping paper.
During fire prevention week . Esler stressed el iminat ing all lire haza rds at
home and cautioned smokers not to be careless. Homeowners shou ld check fire
extinguishers yearly and avoid usi ng naptha (a colorl ess. volatile petroleum dis-
tillate used as a solvent and as a ruel) for cleaning unless outside.
Defective chi rrmeys ranJ<ed first as a ca use of lires, with stoves and rurnacc
boilers second, fo l lowed by spontaneous combusti on. Eighty percent o1" denths
from fires were women and children. Seventy-five percent or fires occurred in
the home. Housewives were encouraged to store oil mops in tin boxes provided
by the manufacwrcr. Electrical fires were on the increase. Esler encouraged
citizens to look over al l the cords on portab le electric equipment, read ing lamps.
and electrica l appli ances. Instead of getting a new ruse when one blew out. a
conunon practice was to put a penny behind the old fuse. This common prac-
tice invited fires.
According to the Wisconsin Fire Prevention Association. lire sa fety in
Kaukauna was above the a\·erage. Few ci tizens used kerosene for lighting fires.
Citizens were encouraged to only put gasoline in red cans.
Firemen demonstrated to the citizens how to extinguish fl ames if" their
clothing caught on fire by wrapping in a blanket and rolling on the 11oor or
grass. They instructed fa mily members in what to do in case or lire and how to
use the telephone and what to report.
founh of July fire\\'orks could only be sold from June 27 lo July 4. The
city ordinance described what fireworks were acceptable and what fireworks
could not be so ld. Fireworks prohibited were li re balloons. mortars. cxp losi\'C
canes, toy pistols or any contri vance using explosive caps or cartridges and li re
crackers more than two inches long. The fo ll owi ng fireworks were pe rm itted:
colored fire in conta iners, torches with lightning ends covered, fountain s. 11owcr
pots. display wheels which throw name less than six feet. uncolored sparklers
no more than I0 inches long and fire crackers up to two inc hes long.
Homeowners \Vere encouraged to bum rubbish in a container and not kt:ep
gasoline in the house. Never start fire with kerosene. They were encouraged to
fire proof their homes with fireproof roo ling. Wood shi ngle roofs were not per-
mitted, yet home owners as we ll as businessmen in the business distri ct city had
a written agreement with the Town of Buchanan and the fo llowing. Esler stated
that the practice must stop if Kaukauna wished to continue enjoy ing a low lire
insurance rate. Al that time Kaukauna had one of the lowest rates in the stale.
Toys using explosives or fire, such as toy locomotives, nor toys made or
celluloid should not be purchased. Toy mov ie projectors and nitro-cc llulosc
fil ms were very dangerous.
During the 30s Kaukauna firemen made test climbs with gas mask equi p-
ment up ladders at the municipal bui lding. Each fireman had to make one
88
trip up and dovvn the ladder with a mask.
Several limes the fireme n tested 1,000 feet of hose near the Mankosky
Coal Company on the island. Two hundred pounds of pressure was put on the
hose. Testing the hose was a state requirement.
In 1934, 35 persons who were members of the ft re department, electrical
and water department and Kaukauna mills ancnded first aid classes at the fire
department. The classes which lasted fo r several weeks were conducted by a
forn1er member of the Milwaukee Fire Department.
Members of the fire department conducted practice runs to the Thilmany
Pulp and Paper Mill wood piles. Water was pumped from the tai lrace (a wa-
tercourse that ca rries water away from a mill or water wheel or turbine) in the
rear of the Outagamie Mill. Single and double streams of water were pumped
with the new fire engine. In 1938 the fire department conducted a trial run to
the canal bank near the library grounds. Two streams of water were thrown in
the run.
Kaukauna firemen, Thilmany Pulp and Paper Mill fi remen and six volun-
teer firemen from the Town of Buchanan attended firefighting classes con-
ducted by Kaukauna Vocational School. Tech nical work on fire trucks and
fire equipment was also covered.
The fire chief conducted quarterly inspections for fire hazards in busi-
ness buildings. The report was filed with the state fire marshal!. Few fire
hazards were found. In 193 3 a thorough inspection of all churches and
schools fo und no hazards. T hrough the decade businesses were fou nd to con-
tain a number of fire hazards. Many basements were stocked with old paper
and wasle which if ever caught fire wou ld be hard to extinguish. Many stair-
ways and doorways were blocked off Several persons were noti fied to clean
up their premises and eliminate fire haza rds. The main hazard was defective
chimneys in business and residential areas.
Frank Daniels. Chief Engineer of the Insurance Rating Bureau of Mil-
waukee. in 1934 noted that Kaukauna enjoyed an excellent rating the size of
the city, being in the fifth class. However. he noted that the fire department
was not up to standard. The city's water system was intelligentl y built and
was capab le of furnishing three times as much water as it was possible to
pump ,,·ith the city's present firefighting equipment. Fire walls (A fireproof
or fire resistant wa ll designed to prevent the spread of a fire through a build-
ing) spell the difference between controllable and uncontrollable fires. Next
was organi zation and effi ciency of the lire department. If improvements in
the department were made an even belier rati ng could be obtained. Rates for
fire insurance depended entirely on several conditions. The greater the fire
hazard, the higher the costs. Insurance companies do not pay fire losses, the
losses are paid by policy holders. The greater the tire losses, the higher the
cost charged to the insured.
ln June 1936, the fire chief reminded city residents that any person mak-
ing alterations on his bui ldi ngs must show the plans and specifications to the
fire chief. He would send the plans lo the industrial commission for approval.
89
Many residents were not fo llowing the ordinance.
In March 1936 the Kaukauna Fire Department inspected the Kaukauna
High School auditorium and the report was presented at the Board of Education
meeting. The report came from the Industrial Commission at Madison and stat-
ed that the building was unsa le both from a physica l as well as a fire haza rd .
The report stated:
"All wiring on the stage must be overhauled and put in shape to comply
with the Wisconsin electrica l code without further delay.
The present installation is unsafe both from a physica l as we ll as a lire haz-
ard. Supply covers sha ll open outlet boxes .
.. While the building docs not have any basement except under the stage
end, the rest of the building shows selll cment in different directions, due it can
be read ily assumed. to either rotting conditi ons o r 11 oor members or failure of
floor member supports. The roof structure also shows sags bet ween supports.
due. evidently to partial failure of members. The building is quite old and un-
doubted ly being frame throughout dry rot conditi ons wi ll be met with .
.. Both side rear exit doors must have such hard ware as \\'ill permit the
opening of the doors from the inside without using a key. Anti-panic bars are
recommended.··
Due to the fact that the needed corrections wou ld require a large o ut lay of
money the Board of Education dec ided lo await thl.! outcome or the 1\ pri I 3rd
recommendation in regard to the building or an aud itoriu m and gymnasium. In
I938 Kaukauna sold 582.000 worth of bonds fo r a ne\\' gym and auditorium for
the Kaukauna Hi gh Schoo l. The additio n was completed in 1940.
In March 1933 the city council authorized a I0 percent cul in firem en and
policemen wages. The remainder or city officia ls had been reduced 15 percent
at the previous counci l meeting. The Pol ice and Fire Commission recommended
that the counc iI cut the firemen 15 percent and the po licemen I0 percent. Louis
Faust, chai1111an of the commi ssion. said that the Commission rev iewed its rec-
ords and fou nd that in the past few years the firemen had rece ived three raises
while the policemen had received only one raise. Alderman Brewster replied
that at one time the lire depa rtment had been composed of volunteers and the
police department never had any vo lunteers and no favo ritism should be shown
to any department.
The counc il passed Ordinance No. 3 19 whi ch lixcd salaries as:
• Chief or r irc Dept. $ 150 ($2 ,679 today) for inspection o r bu il dings fo r
part time serv ice and per year.
• Chief of Fire Dept. full time service. per year $ 1,600 ($28,571 today).
• Fi remen. captains eac h per yea r $ 1,404 ($25 ,07 1 today).
• Firemen, second yea r. per year$ I, 188 ($2 1,2 14 today).
• Firemen after two years, per year $ 1,350 ($24, I07 loclny).

In 1936 the Police and Fire Commission asked the council Lo restore lhc
old sa laries, except for the chi ef', ass istant <:: hier and Lhc captain. The counci l
restored all sa laries.
90
The fire department di scontinued the use of Shur-Stops, glassed enclosed
chemicals dropped down chimneys or between the walls lo fight a fire in 1933.
In 1934 the city council authorized the Police and Fire Commission to ad-
vertise fo r a new fire truck. The truck would replace the small truck that was
recently removed from service because of needed expensive repairs. The truck
was 23 years old and had made 37 fire runs out of the city.
Bids submitted by seven local dealers were rejected by the council. Chi ef
Esler stated that if the council wan ted to save money, the department could get
by fo r a few years with $200 1,vorth of repairs to the old truck. He urged imme-
diate acti on in order to keep lire insurance rates down. The council approved
$200 for repairs to the small chemica l truck.
finall y in .luly 1936 the council voted 7 - 3 to purchase a new fire truck.
The Police and Fire Commi ssion recommended the American La France Com-
pany, one of four compani es to submit a bid. The truck was a 500-gallon, bank
ladder truck equipped with 240 reel of ladders, I00 gallon booster tank and 150
feet of one inch hose for $8,250 ($ 135,246 today). The terms called for one-
third down and the balance at six percent interest.
The new truck arrived in November 1936 accompanied by a mechanic
from the American La France Company, Chicago, Illinois. Citizens congregat-
ed around the train car to watch the unloading. Next to the department's old
truck, the new truck looked like a giant truck. The truck was 38 feet long, had a
wheelbase of 254 inches and carried 245 feet of ladders.
T he company mechanic stayed two weeks and conducted several trial runs.
One run was made to the Hotel Kaukauna, four stories high, the tallest building
in the city. The hotel was located al the top of the Lawe Street Bridge on the
northeast corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Lawe Street. One 50-foot ladder
was used to reach the top or the hotel from Lawe Street. The truck pumped 500
gallons of water per minute at 500 pounds of pressure.
In 1938 the Police and Fire Commiss ion advettised for sale the old Reo
fire truck and was go ing to put the money toward the purchase of a poli ce car.
Vera Despins. the lone bidder, submitted a bid fo r S28. The council took no
action.
The foll owing year the Police and Fire Commission advertised for 600 fee l
of hose. Six companies submitted bids and the council voted to purchase 600
feet of 2-1 /2 inch, double jacket wax and gum treated hose from the Fabric Fire
Hose Company out of Indianapolis, Indiana for $l.18 ($18 today) per foot in 50
foot lengths, complete with national standard thread rocker lug couplings.
Members o f the Police and Fire Commission held a special meeting at the
police station to discuss several incidents concerning the way the Central Block
fire on March 24, 1937, was handled by the Kaukauna Fire Department. Others
present at Lhe n1eeting were Mayor John H. Niesen, Mike Gerharz, chairman of
the commission. Alderman Jacob Miller, chairman of the Police and Fire Com-
mittee of the common counci I, and Alderman Jule Mertes. (See page I 05).
A letter from Karl E. Stansbury, president of the Thilmany Pulp and Paper
Company was read at the meeting. Stansbury asked the commission why the
91
equipment of the fi re department did not function properly at the recent fire. He
stated that the department is greatly under manned. Stansbury suggested that
the city train a volunteer department which could be used in case of a large lire
in the city.

"Dear Mike:
"ft has been rumored that during the.fire of the Cemral Block on the south
side last week certain equipment of the Kaukauna Fire Department did not
function properly, and that the local fire department is greatly under manned.
As the largest taxpayer in Kaukauna we are ve1y much concerned about this
situation and we are positive that your commission and the city administration
is doing and 'vvill do every thing within its power to correct any inejficiency if
such exists.
"We have in mind the upper and lower mills and our pulpwood y ard and
fi'om both the angle of loss to the company and unemployment to the citizens qf
Kaukauna, we cannot take any unneces.w 1J1 chances 1vith a disastrous f ire. In
this connection we are daily reminded of !he possible fire hazard of the Out-
agamie mill property which is now unwatched and unsprinkled.
"With particular consideration of the man power of the local department
we inquire as to the advisability of training a volunteer department to be
pressed into service. to augment the regular department when a large .fire oc-
curs. This plan would undoubtedly give the department more man po1Ver than ii
could ever hope to have as a regular fi1/I time personnel, and at the same time
be much more economical.
"We will be ve1y pleased to have you review this entire situation and have
a report from your commission when you have formulated a program.
Yours ve1y truly, Thi/many Pulp & Paper Co.
Kari E. Stansbw y , President. "

Another letter was sent to Arthur Schma lz of the Police and Fire Commis-
sion from H. F. Weckwerth, superintendent of the Kaukauna Electrical and Wa-
ter Departments. In the letter Wecbverth asked vvhy the fire siren was not
blown the night of the Central Block fire and stated that thi s must be clone in
order to have proper cooperation of the fire department and the water depaii-
ment. Weckwerth complained about the laxity of enforcement and comp liance
to rules and regu lations essential for the cooperati on of the fire department and
the water department:
"last evening as you know a fire did considerable damage to the old
Farmers and .Merchants bank building. Th e siren 1vas not operated which g ives
the indication by an alarm and light operating at the power plant f or the opera-
tor to start a pump immediate~v and then to call the water works operators. The
water works operator is then to immediately start additional equipment (/'neces-
sary to ensure satisfact01y pressures and water storage. The other water works
operator 's duty is to reporr to the flre and give what assistance possible to the
flre department and also report at frequent intervals fO the man al the plant.
92
as to what conditions prevail at 1he J!re. Conditions are noted as to 1he number
of/Ire streams, operating pressures and duration of the.fire: these are translat-
ed back to the plant in order that the operator may he guided accordingly.
"Thefi,re siren should be lefi operating at least 1hree minutes/or all fires.
This will give sufficient notice to our employees. There have been other times
during the last few months in which the siren was not sounded. Also Mr. Wag-
nitz and 1\lfr. Kenney should be notified ofall.fires by the.firemen at the station.
"Last night the fire departrnenf had operated two hose lines for 12 rninutes
be.fore the plant operator knew that there was a.fire. The 1vriter called the plant
operator and asked if the service pump had been sta/'fed and also if the water
works men had been notified. The plant opera1or knew nothing of the fire which
might have been serious from !he water supplv end of/ire protection.
"We desire to give you our unqualified supporf in the interests of the pro-
tection but 11·ithout cooperation if is needless to say !hat yourjire departmenr is
worthless without an adequate 11·a1er supply and pressure.
Yours ve1y tru~v
KE&WD. H F. Weckwerth, supt. "

Henry Es ler, chief of the ft re department, was asked why the siren was not
blown. He said that the siren is usually blown just before the fire apparatus
leaves the fire station, bu! on this occasion it was forgotten. He added that no
phone call was received for this run. Chairman Gerha rz sa id that the fire siren
was not blown on severa l other occasions and wa nted to know why it was not
blown on those occasions. Chi ef Esler repli ed that to his knowledge the siren
was blown on all other occasions, adding that sometimes during the colder
weather the siren sticks and even though the button is pressed the siren does not
sound .
It was suggested that the si ren be blown every even ing as a curfew and by
doing that it would keep the siren in shape so that il would be in working order
when there is a fire. Arthur Schmalz sa id that the troub le probably lain in the
fact that the department waits too long before the siren is blown. He said that
the time to press the siren button is when the call comes inlo the station rather
than waiting until the equipment is ready to leave the department. He said that
it is too easy to forget it at the last minute.
Gerharz asked why Kaukauna 's new fire truck was not used at the fire last
week. Esler sa id that the new truck was purchased to haul the ladders and all of
the other fighting equipment to the fire and to be held in reserve for emergency
calls while the other truck \.Vas administering at the lire. Gerharz also asked the
chief if the new truck was capable of operating at the Centra l Block foe to
which Esler answered that it was. Comm issioner Breier asked if the new truck
was froze up at the fire and Es ler said that il was not. Gerharz sa id that he could
not understand why it was necessary to ca ll the Appleton department when
Kaukauna had two capab le trucks. Esler said that all ci ties in and near the Fox
River Valley have an agreement to he lp each other out in case of a large fire.

93
He said that as long as Kaukauna was in that agreement he believed it was okay
to call the Appleton department in case the fire spread to other buildings. He
said that there were seven streams of water on the building, enough to float
away.
Esler told the commissioners that all of this trouble was the result of ''talk
of the people." Gerharz asked Mayor Niesen, "if it didn 't look mighty funny Lo
him to see that big new truck idle at the fire when one of the largest buildings in
the city was being destroyed," to vvhich Niesen answered that it did look
"mighty queer" to him also. He added that he believed that the new pumper
should have been put in use at the Central Block fire. Comm issioner Schmalz
said that in his opinion it was a serious mistake not to put the new equi pment in
operation that night. He said that the Police and Fire Commission was not re-
ceiving much cooperation from the city council. He continued that the commis-
sion no longer received reports from the fire and pol ice departments every
month and added that unless there was some co-operation between the counci l
and commission, the city might as wel l discontinue the commission. The meet-
ing adjourned after it was agreed that the commission would draw up a number
of recommendations that would be presented at a future meeting of the counci I.
Lester S. Lindemuth and S. P. Senso supported the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment and wrote a rebuttal lener published in the Kaukauna Times.
"The combined forces experienced difficulty in overcoming the stubborn
blaze before finally bringing it under control. It seems that the crowd of side-
walk fire chiefs always present at any blaze think they know more about
fighting a fire than those who have had years of experience and training along
that line.
"We wonder how many of the critics gave any thought to the handicap un-
der \vhich this fire was fought. Consider the big start the fire had before the
department was ca lled. Consider the type of building in which the blaze had to
be fought and consider the limited number of firemen on our force.
"As soon as Appleton came we began to see results. Sure you did , "M r.
Sidewalk Fire Chief." Naturally, with the increased man power and water avail-
able, it was possibl e to overcome the blaze more quickly.
"It was the combined efforts of the two departments that finally brought
the fire under control. There are people who would have you believe Appleton
did it all.
"Much criticism has been directed at our department for not using the new
pumper. With the limited man power ava ilable how cou ld it? They seem 10
forget that there were hydrants supplying water for our fire department too and
all the avai lable firemen were plenty busy without using the new pumper. And
look at the ladders this new truck carries. What a fine fi x we wou ld have been
in if it weren ' t for the ladders on the truck. Well , you always have the second
guessers. Our advice is let the department alone, let it fight the fire as it thinks
it should ."
In June 1936. the city council met in spec ial session for the purpose of con-
sidering matters and to take appropriate action relating to members of the Police
94
and Fire Commission. Mayor .1. H. Niesen told the councilmen that the City of
Kaukauna was operating without a legal Police and Fire Commission for many
years because the method or the selection of members to the commission was
not done in a legal manner. He said that all the acts of the fonner commission
were legal, that they worked in good faith and that none of the actions taken by
the commission were contested. These facts were received from the attorney
genera l who in a letter Lo city officials suggested that the mayor appoint a new
commission and have the members confirmed by the conm1on council. As a
result of the meeting a new Police and Fire Commission was fom1ed on which
only th ree of the old commission members were removed. Men removed were
Wm. J. Gantter, William Breier and Arthur Kromer.
The new members Niesen appointed were Arthur M. Sclmrnlz, Michael
Gerharz, Joseph Nusharclt, Walter Lucht, and John Rink. Old members were
Mike Gerharz and Jule Mertes.

Major Fires 1930 - 1939


1. Mrs. C. Arts Home and Farm Buildings in Hollandtown
A fire which originated in a brooder house destroyed the brooder coop,
dairy barn , silo, granary, machine shed, another shed and the farm residence on
the farm of Mrs. C. Arts T uesday afternoon on April 23, 1930. The Arts home
was located on the west side of Highway 57, a short distance north of Van
Abel's Restaurant at Hol lancltown.
Over 2,200 baby chicks in the brooder coop burned to death. Ten tons of
hay, eight tons of straw, 300 bushel of oats, 50 bushels of barley, $650 worth of
hens, $200 worth or brooder and feeding equipment and all form machinery
were lost in the flames. A small amount of furniture w·as saved. The family's
dog became trapped in the stables and burned to death. A conservative estimate
of the loss was set at $ 12,000 ($ 169,014 today), which was covered by $10,000
(I I9, 7 I 8 today) insurance. Lawrence Arts, who operated the farm, was assisting
a neighbor at hay pressing and had been home to inspect the oil burners on the
brooders about 3 p.m. in the aftern oon. Shortly after his departure the flames
were discovered . A heavy northwest wind fanned the fire and it \.Vas soon out
of control.
Firefighting equipment from Kaukauna, Dundas, Wrightstown and Forest
Junction responded Lo the fire. Much of their attenti on was directed to saving
the Micke buildings directly ac ross the road, as the principal blaze was com-
pletely out of contro l.

95
2. Outi1gamie Paper Mil l
Approximately $2,500 ($34.247 today) damage was caused by tire below
the floor in the beater room of the Outagamie Paper Mill. The cause of the fire
was defective electric wiring below the floor. The damage was confined to wir-
ing, floor and studding with some damage to the machinery.
The flames were discovered at 6: 15 a.m. in the morning on October 7,
1930, and an alarm was immediate ly turned in to the Kauka una Fire Depart-
ment. The automatic sprinkler system at the mill kept the fire confined be low
the floor until the arriva l or the fire department. Two streams of water, one
from a hydrant and the other through the pumper from the tai lracc at the mi ll.
were used in extinguishing the blaze which proved very stubborn. The dense
smoke and the cramped quarters below the floor where the fire was burning hin-
dered the firefighte rs. Prompt action on the part of the firemen confi ned the
fl ames to the one portion or the plant and prevented a more serious loss.

3. Martzahl Home on Com bined Locks Road just outside the C ity Limits
On January 13 . 193 1, the home and furnishings of the Henry Martzah l
famil y was destroyed by lire. The fire was thought to have started in an upstairs
clothes closet. Kaukauna Fire Department responded to the fire with the
pumper and chemi cal trucks. T he Combined Locks pumper truck also respond-
ed and the crew aided the Kaukauna Fire Department in directing two streams
of water on the names.
About 2,000 feet or hose was used in fighting the flames. Kaukauna·s
pumper was attached to the hose from the hydrant and two streams ran from a
"Y"' attached to the length of hose. The departments made strenuous efforts to
subdue the names, but the lire had too much of a start and it was impossible to
save the bu ilding. Furni shings from the lower floor were carri ed to sa fety by a
crowd of fr iends, neighbors and relative, but it was impossible to save the fur-
nishings of the upstairs.

4. Charleston Billiard Hal l on East Second Street


Fire of unknown origin in the early morning of March 31. 1931. panially
destroyed the building housing the Cha rleston Billiard Hall and completely de-
stroyed all the eq uipment and stock owned by James Thermo, proprietor or the
parlors. The building was owned by Dr. W. C. Sullivan and John Scheer.
Damage to the stock and li xtures was $8,000 ($1 23,077 today) and cov-
ered by $4,000 ($6 1,538 today) insurance. The damage to the building was not
given.
The lire started in an upstairs room in the east side of the building in a
stock room for the establishment. The fl ames were noticed at about 4:30 a.m . in
the morning by a call boy or the Northwestern railway and an alarm was imme-
diately turned in. When the fire department arrived, the flames were burning
through the roof.
The entire upper lloor was gutted by llames and a large ho le was burned
tluough the lower cei ling on the east side of the building. A great quantity of
96
water was used before the flames were brought under conlrol and a great
amount of effort by the fi refighters was necessary to keep the fire from spread-
ing to the adjoining buildings. Five pool tables and one billiard table together
with showcase, fountain , electric gridd le and other equipment was destroyed .
In addition a large stock of candy, ice cream, ciga rs, cigarettes, and novelties
was also destroyed.

5. A. Krueger Barn Route l , Little C hute


Loss of about $5.000 ($75,758 1oday) resulted from a fire which destroyed
a barn and other outbuildings on the farm of Albert Krueger on Route 1 early
Monday morning on September 9, 193 1. The fire started when a gasoline motor
pump in the pump house backfired and ignited the bui ldings. Unsuccessful ef-
forts were made 10 extinguish the fire with a smal l container of chemical fluid
and before the neighbors could form a bucket brigade. 1he flames had spread to
che big barn. A brigade or about 50 neighbors pro1ected 1hc residence unti l the
an-ival of the Kaukauna Fire Department, but the fl ames spread so rapidly that
the barn and outbuildings cou ld not be saved. About 900 bushels of oats and
barley which had been threshed and 28 bales of hay were destroyed. The loss
was partiall y covered by insu rance.

6. Ed Sanders Home
Mrs. Ed Sanders and small son narrovvly escaped serious injury when their
home was destroyed by fire earl y Sunday morning on November 1, 193 1. Mrs.
Sanders grabbed her sleepi ng son and dashed through the burning room to safe-
ly. Her clothing was scorched by the fl ames.
The Kaukau na Fire Department was called and upon arrival fou nd the
build ing completely engulfed in fire. The blaze started from an oil heater Mrs.
Sanders was lighting. An explosion followed which igni ted the walls and ce il-
ings of the room. Home furn ish ings were lost. Estimated loss was $2,000
($30,769 today).
Her husband was confined al Riverview Sanatorium.

7. Mill Build ing on the corner of T hird Street a nd Main Avenue


On November 21. 1931, fire caused serious damage to the building known
as the Mill block early Saturday morning. The loss included stocks, fixtures
and household goods, estimated at nearly $25,000 ($384,6 15 today) on which
$16,000 ($246, 154 today) insurance was carried.
The fire was discovered by Sylvester Es ler, who passed the building at
about 2 a.m. in the morning. At that time flames were visible in the bui lding
recently occupied by the Abe Goldin lunch room. Esler immediately drove to
the fi re department and reported the fire. Mr. and Mrs. Wi lliam Radder. ,,·ho
were returning from a pa rty, noticccl the flames and quick work on their part
was responsible lor saving the li ves of the Wynn fa mily li ving on the second
fl oor. The Wynn fam il y escaped the fl ames but lost all their household belong-
ings and practical ly all their clothing. Other occupants living in the upstairs
97
apartments were Will iam Ganller, A. R. Mill and Robert Mill. Most of their
household belongings were destroyed. The origin of the fire was believed to
have been spontaneous combustion. Indications were that it started in the stair-
way of the store recentl y vacated by Abe's lunch. The fire traveled upward
through the walls and when the firemen arri ved it had already spread to the at-
tic. A call was immediately sent to the Appleton Fire Department, as local fire-
men realized that with the high wind that was blow ing that night there was great
danger of the fire ge11ing out of control. Four streams of water from hydrants
and two streams each from the Kaukauna and Appleton pumpers were in use fo r
over two hours.
Three businesses on the first lloor suffered seri ous damage from the fire
and water. The greatest damage was on the second noor. The Klurfiled Pro-
duce Cornpany·s store suffered the greatest damage from fire. being near the
lire center. Flames broke through the wall into both the Gantter ne,\·sstand and
the Schelezewske barber shop. but the greatest damage was from water. The
barber shop was moved to the Grand View Hotel building and was ready fo r
business Saturday afternoon.
The Appleton Fire Chi ef, George P. McGil lin. fractured his right am1 when
he tripped over a l'irc hose whil e direc ting the work of his men. He continued
his work and did not stop for medical attention unti l he had returned to Apple-
ton with his crew or firelighters.
The Mill block was the properly or the First Realty Company of this city.
The building was erected by the late August Mill about 1884. A few years later
he constructed an additi on. For many years the structure was the business cen-
ter of Kaukauna. August Mi ll deve loped a large dry goods bus iness and a bank.

8. Leo Onkels Barn, Buildings and Cattle on Route 5


On December 19, 1931, Leo On kcls lost 25 cattle, a machine shed with
practically all of the fa rm machinery, the granary with 1,300 bushels of grain ,
pi g sty and silo were destroyed. The loss was estimated at approximately
$ I0,000 ($ 169,492 today) partiall y covered by insurance. The cause of the ti re
was unknown. Two dogs tried vainly to save the li vestock in the barn. Their
efforts to dri ve the animals out or the barn was to no avail and they nearly lost
their own lives in the auempt coming out of the burning barn only when they
were si nged by the flames. Neighbors saved 15 pigs which were housed in the
pens.
Ne ighbors di scovered the fire about 8 p.m. Saturday evening. The Onkels
fa mil y was not at home. The Kaukauna fire department was cal led immediately
but the fire had gai ned suc h headway that it ,,·as only possible to concentrate
effort on saving the house which was located across the road.

98
9. John Niesen Home on W isconsin Avenue
The fire department was called lo the John Niesen home about 12: 15 a.m.
on Wednesday morning on March 30, 1932 , to extinguish a fire whi ch started
fro m defective wiring. The fire was discovered by Herbert, son of Mr. and Mrs.
Niesen, when he was awakened by smoke.
Nearly 800 feet of hose was used by the department, pulling two streams of
water on the house. None of the furniture was saved. The home was a two sto-
ry frame structure with a slate roof. It was necessary to cut a hole in the roof to
get al the fi re \Vith the water. The fire was enti rely inside of the house.
The damage was estimated to be about S3,000 ($50,847 today). Members
of the f'a mi ly resided with relatives until the home was repaired.

10. Kauka una Wood and Pulp Comp any and Kauka una Quarry Building
on the Island
Fire Chi ef Albert Luckow indicated Wednesday that he was satisfied the
response to the fire that razed the Kaukauna Wood and Pulp company plant and
a build ing of the Kauka una Quarry Company, Monday , J\ilay 30, 1932, was
caused by spontaneous combustion in the pulp plant.
The fi re apparently originated in one of the bins where the pulp had be-
come wet. creating internal heat and causing the blaze. Chie r Luckow said he
did not believe that small ch ildren were playi ng about the plant on that clay.
Closed for about a year and a half and in the hands of the receivers for about
two yea rs, the pulp plant was to have been auctioned off June 10.
When the alarm was turned in, the enti re pulp company structure was en-
veloped in flames. The fire already had spread to the quarry company bui ld-
ings, but firem en were able to save two of the three trucks in it. Lacking hy-
dran ts near the plant it was necessa ry to pump water from an old quarry hole.
The efforts of the fireme n to save the burning building proved fut ile, but they
were successful in saving the office building, the powder shed, blacksm ith
shops and quarry equipment nearby. Equ ipment destroyed in the pu lp plant
included grinders, wet machines, screens and other machinery necessary to
make pulp. About $30,000 ($500,000 today) loss was placed on the eq uipment
and machinery of the pulp plant according to M. H. Niesen, president and gen-
eral manager of the two companies. The Joss was partially covered by $I 0.000
($ 169,492 today) insurance. The loss on the quaJTy company property was cov-
ered by $5,000 ($76,923 today) insurance. The destruction of the quarry equip-
ment pul about 15 men out of work. No effort was made to rebui ld the pulp
plant.
The plant fi rst began operations here in 1884. It operated for over 20
years under the management of the first organizers when Luther Lindauer pur-
chased the bus iness. New and improved buildings and plant equipment were
insta lled by Mr. Li ndauer and he continued to operate the plant unti l the present
Kaukauna Ground Wood and Pulp Company bought it fro m him in 1920. The
Kaukauna QuaITy Company had been in operation for about 45 years on the
same site. Low water in the rapids caused the shutdown of the plant.
99
11. Vander Za nd en Fann Home n ea r Kelso Cemetery
Fast work on the part of the Kaukauna Fire Department saved the buildings
surrounding the Vander Zanden fam1 house about 1p.m. Thursday. September
15. 1932. While the fami ly was enjoying the noon day meal a neighbor rushed
in LO inform them that their house was on fire. The Kaukauna ri rc Department
was summoned immediately and all it could do was save the surrounding build-
ings.
According to reports from fi remen, the fire started from a spark from the
chimney. The house was tota ll y destroyed. Part of the ru rniture from the
downstairs was saved but nothing from the second story could be removed from
the burn ing bui lding. The pump house and work shop, only eight reel from the
house, were saved. A granary containing l ,500 bushels of grain was also saved.
There were 140 gallons of chemical used in an effort to save the buildings.
While the department was answering the Vancler Zandc n lire ca ll, the sec-
ond truck was ca lled to the Kaukauna Gun Club where a lire started underneath
a corner in the club rooms. The fire started from a cigarette dropped there and
damage was slight.

12. John Van Laa rh oven Farm Home on Rou te I


On December 18. 1932. tire starting from an overhea ted oil stove de-
stroyed the one-story frame fann home of John Van Laarhovcn about 4 p.m.
Sunday afternoon.
The Kaukauna Fire Department was called and tiremcn managed to sa\·e
che adjo in ing bui ld ing. Mr. and Mrs. Van Laarhoven and thei r two chi ldren
were in the building when the fi re started, and they had all they could do to get
out without getting burned. Nothing was saved. T he fami ly res ided with rela-
tives until the bui lding was rebui lt.

13. Mar tin Evers Fann House - Four C hildren Burned to Death on
Ro ute I
Four small daugh ters of Mr. and Mrs. Martin H. Evers were burned to
death when the Evers' farm home was destroyed by fire at 9 p.m. Saturday, on
November I 1. 1933.
Mayor B. \V. Fargo was called to ask if the fire department could be sent to
the scene or the disaster. The Mayor was not at home. T he cul I was referred to
Wi lli am Carnot, acting mayor who instructed the fire department to answer the
ca ll.
Flames and dense smoke prevented frantic parents and neighbors from res-
cuing the children. The coo l head iness and braveness or a 13-year-old sister
saved hersel rand three other babies of the fam ily. The victims who apparently
smothered as they slept were Margaret Evers, Martella Evers. Ma1tha Evers.
and Mary Ann Evers. The victim's ages ranged from 2-10 years. Geraldine,
oldest of eight chi ldren. was the heroine of the tragedy. The 13-year-old chi ld
was aroused by dense smoke pouring into her bedroom. She stumbled to the
telephone and ca lled John Hendricks, the nearest neighbor. Geraldine was
100
partially overcome by smoke but was able to awaken three of her sislers who
were sleeping with her and lead them downstairs to safety and lhen ran to the
neighbors for help. No cries were heard from the children upstairs, apparently
already overcome by smoke
When Hendricks, P. M. Johnson and John Spierings, al l neighbors, arrived
they found Gera ldine and the other three children in night clothes and barefoot-
ed standing in three or fo ur inches of snow in the farm yard
Hendricks obta ined a ladder and attempted to crawl through a window of
the half story upper bedroom where the children had been trapped, onl y to be
turned back as tongues of flames leaped through the panes he had broken.
.Johnson tried and then Spierings tried, all to be turned back afler suffe ring
bums and cuts from the broken glass.
Gera ldine was babysitting the children and put them to bed while the par-
ents visited neighbors. The couple returned home about midnighl and found
their home in flames and all hope of saving the four children gone.
The father burned both hands and arn1s as he reached through the window
the moment he arrived home in a vain attempt to save his children. The neigh-
bors forcib ly kept him from going into the room wh ich was consumed by
fl ames. Bones of two of the small victims were taken from the ruins Sunday.
The fire apparently started in the living room of the home. The parents
said the stove in that room had not been used during the day and lhey were una-
ble to give any cl ue to the possible origin of the blaze. The home was partially
insured.
A single f'tmeral service for the four girls was held at St. John Church at
Little Chute with Rev. John J. Sprangers in charge. Interment was in lhe parish
cemetery.

14. August Nytes Farm Home County Trunk ZZ, three and a half miles
east of the city limits in the Town of Buchanan
On May I, 1934, the farm home of August Nytes, was LOLally destroyed by
fire. The fire was bel ieved to have been caused by a spark from a chimney.
fire was discovered in the attic near one of the chimneys al about 1:30
p.m. A group of neighbors formed a pail brigade and had the fire under control
when the supply of \Va ler ran out. The flames at first were confined within the
building and did not break through until after the water supply gave out.
An alarm was turned into the Kaukauna Fire Department about I :45 p.rn.
Firemen al the stati on told the person calling that the Kaukauna Department was
restricted fro m answering ca lls outside the city limits and told the cal ler that he
might get in touch with the mayor, John H. Niesen . Mr. Niesen received a call
and after a bit of del iberation ordered the fire department to answer the alarm.
The Kaukauna Fire Department sent its small chemical truck lo the Nytes
home. When they arrived nothing could be clone but al low the house to burn
down and aid in the protection of the surrounding buildings. Ir the Kaukauna
Fire Department had been able to answer the call immediately the fan11house
could have been saved acco rding to firemen who answered the alarm .
IOI
15. Moose Tavern, Little Ch ute outside the city limits on th e Little Chute
Road
Fire which started when a gas stove blew up completely wiped out the
huge bui lding of Henry Thode, which housed the Moose Tavern just shortly
ancr 2 a.m . on May 4, 1934. The bui ld ing which was 84 lcet long and 20 feet
wide, included a tavern, grocery store, filling station and home of Henry Thode,
owner and proprietor.
The fire started \.Vhen Thode was 1ighting the gas stove to heat some water.
A call was sent to the Kaukauna Fire Departmcnl, who a ner receiving in-
structions from the mayor answered the alarm. Very little could be done by the
fire department as no water was available. The Little Chute Department also
received a call and arrived shortly a lier the Kaukauna Fire Department.
Damage was estimated at approximately $5.000 ($86.207 today) and was
partly covered by insurance. On ly a few household belongings were saved.
Two other small bui ldings; a garage and store house, we re saved.
The building was conslrucled the previous summer; part of the plastering
work was sti ll unfinished. Mr. Thode stated that he intended to rebui ld as soon
as possible. The owner came here from Marinette County, where his family
was in the grocery business for many years. During the construc tion of another
bui lding the Thode family li ved in one of the small bui ldings on the premises.

16. ~itingale Filling Station on G r een Bay Road on t he n orth east cit y lim-
its
On September 26, 1934, lire severely damaged the Ni tingale Filling Sta-
Lion owned by William Van Zee la nd. The fire started from clc!cctive wiring and
was discovered by Charles Vnnevcnhoven who li ved nea r the station. The
Kaukauna Fi re Department vvas ca lled and responded. Four hundred feet of
hose was used with two streams or water. Although the lire was well under
way. the !iremen contained and extinguished the tire in a short period of time.
Damage ,,·as estimated at $700 ($ 12,069 today) and was covered by insur-
anee.

17. E lmer C lun e Farm - F ive Build ings on Route 4


Fire of unknown origin completely destroyed five buildings on the farm of
Elmer Clune, shortly after 8 a.m. on June 16, 1935. T he 40-acre farm was
owned by Fred Mayer or Kauka una. It was believed lhaL the lire started in the
gra nary. The buildings destroyed included the granary, chi cken house, garage,
pump house and com crib. A large number of too ls and other fa rm equipment
were total ly destroyed. A number or chickens were burned. I lad the wind been
blowing in the opposite direction, it would have been impossible to sa,·e the
barn. the largest building on the premises.
The Kaukauna Fire Department received the call and immediately rushed
to the scene. The firemen used chemicals and were fortunate to save the barn
and house which were siLuatccl a lew feet from the other bui ldings. The barn ,
about hair filled with hay, slurlccl to burn several times af'ler lircl'ighters thought
102
they had put it out. 1t was only through the use of chemica ls that it was saved.
All of the household goods were removed from the farm home. Neighbors,
friends and spectators formed a water brigade and carried water to the scene of
the fire for about two hours in an effort to help save the other buildings. No
estimate of the loss was given.

18. Thomas Glasheen Fann Home on Route 4


Thomas Glasheen, a 74-year-olcl bachelor, was burned to death on March
17, 1936, when his farm home was tota ll y destroyed by lire. The ori gin of the
fire was unknown but it is bel ievecl that it vvas caused by an overturned larnp or
lantern. The fire was discovered by John Euhl , who was driving home with hi s
wife and fa mily at 10 p.m. They noticed Jlames shooting out of a side window
in the home. Euhl rushed to the home of August Foreman across the road and
the two men rushed to the Jlaming ho use. They found the front door unlocked
but the fire had made so much headway that they were unab le to enter because
of the smoke and flames.
Euhl notified the Kaukauna Fire Department and the small truck answered
the alarm. The fire had gained such proportions by the time the fire department
arrived at the scene that nothing could be done. The pump house (housed the
well and water pump) nearly caught tire and was extinguished by the firemen.
Glasheen 's body was recovered from the debris shortly aner 11 p.111. Sam-
uel Sigman, district attorney, Dr. F. J. Huberty. county corner. and Martin Ver-
hagen , sheriff, conducted an investigation at the scene of the lire Wednesday
morning. The body was fo und in bed .
The two-sto1y house, which was was the o ld Glasheen homestead con-
tained eight rooms. The loss was estimated at about $3.000 ($49, 180 today)
and was covered by insurance. The house contained a large quantity of antique
furnit ure according to relatives. It was stated that Glasheen usually kept hun-
dreds of dollars worth of checks and a large quantity of cash in the home, all or
which were destroyed.
It was first believed that Al Ma ley was also in the house at the time of the
fire but he was located Wednesday morning. Maley had been doing Glasheen's
work on the farm but had not been at the home for several clays. William
Glasheen , a brother of the fire victim, completed the chores on the fa rm Tues-
day evening and had left the home about an hour before the fire was discovered .
Thomas was in bed and had told Glasheen that he wou ld not be getti ng up any-
more that night. The deceased Glasheen had been in !'ailing health for some
time.

103
19..John Ebben's Honie in the Town of Kaukauna
Neither the Town of Kaukauna, as a unit, nor .John Ebben, as an indivicluaL
had an agreement with the Kaukauna Fire Department to answer fi re alarms in
that vicinity, thus the Ebben residence in that town burned to the ground at 7:30
a.m. Monday, on December 14, 1936. The Kaukauna Fire Department was for-
bidden to answer alarms outside the city limits unl ess the town or the property
owner had a written agreement with the City o f Kaukauna. T he agreement
would pay the city the sum of $ 100 fo r each alarm answered in outlying dis-
tricts and $25 for a fa lse alarm.

20. Vincent Zacharias Filling Station, S tore a nd Home on 400 West Tenth
Street
Damage in the amount of $ 1,500 ($23 ,8 10 today) was caused to the filling
station, store and home of Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Zacharias at about 9:30 a.m . on
January 5, I937. The fire started from an overheated stove in a workshop in the
building. Mrs. Zacharias stoked the fire in the stove and a short time later the
fire was discovered and it spread with such speed that few of the household be-
longings were saved. Mr. Zacharias gathered his two children in his arms and
rushed out of the building. He was unabl e to reenter the bu ilding because of the
fire and dense smoke. He managed to save a few va luable papers and records.
The rest of the contents of the building were seriously damaged by the fire , wa-
ter and smoke. The loss was covered by insurance.
The one-story bui lding had recentl y been constructed by Vincent Zachari-
as. Zacharias and his wife and fam ily were li ving in part or the building while
the rest of the building was a small store and fillin g station office. A service
garage which was under construction <:tdjacent to the building was saved. The
fire was confined to the rear and east side of the bui !ding because of the direc-
tion of the wind. The fi re was unable lo break through the side or the building
which was covered with asbestos shingles. Much o r the f'ire was confined to the
attic and roof of the structure. Firemen fought the fire about an hour before it
was brought under control.

21. Joseph Jansen Home on Route 3 in the Town of Buchanan


The home of Joseph Jansen was totally destroyed by fire about 8 p.m. on
January 17, 1937. The loss was estimated at $3 ,500 ($47,619 today). The
origin of the fire was unknown according lo Henry Esler, chief of the Kaukauna
Fire Department. It was discovered by Elizabeth and Vi ctor Jansen, Jr. , chil-
dren of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Jansen, Sr. , while they were play ing in the kitchen
of the home. The Kaukauna Fire Department was notified immed iately and
responded with the small chemical truck. Firemen had the blaze under control
until the supply of chem ical , about I00 ga llons, became exhausted. The fire
chief then ordered the Large new fire truck to the scene and the entire I00 gal-
lons of water from that truck was poured on the sa me site.

104
"If the supply of water was not ex hausted the blaze could have been
extinguished," Fire Chief Es ler said. At first the fire was confined in between
the walls and later spread throughout the entire building and it burned to the
ground. Other buildings on the premises were saved .
The flame s from the burning structure could be seen for miles around and
hundreds of people walked and drove to the scene of the fire and caused a traf-
fic backup. City and county officers were called to the scene and worked for
more than an hour in an effort to clear the roads which had been blocked for
half a mile in either direction.
The Jansen home. which contained eight rooms. was one of the oldest in
that vicinity. The kitchen of the ho1ne was built of logs, which was later refin-
ished. Fortunate ly all of the furnishings from the first floor of the building were
saved. The family lived with neighbors until the house was rebuilt.

22. Fox River Machine Compa ny Building on Canal Street


On February 12. 1937, fire of unknown origin damaged the fox River Ma-
chine Company. Damage was estimated at $3 ,000 ($4 7,619 today).
The Kaukauna Fire Department confined the fire to the basement and the
second floor of the building. The fire was discovered at I :45 a.m. and firemen
worked two hours before the blaze was extinguished. Dan McCarty, secretary-
treasurer of the company, reported that a number of valuab le patterns and rec-
ords were lost.

23. George Van Schyndel Farm Home on Maloney Road, three miles north
of the city limits
On March 24, 1937, the farm home occupied by George Yan Schyndel and
family, owned by Martin .I. Heindel, Tay lor Street, was comp letely destroyed by
fire at noon . An overheated stove was given as the cause of the fire.
The fire started in the attic 01~ the two-story frame structure, and was dis-
covered by John Yan Dyke, rural mail carrier who warned the family. They had
been eating dinner at the time. An alarm ·was received by the Kaukauna Fire
Department and the firemen answered Lhe call, However, due to a terrific wind,
it was impossible to save the home. Sparks ign ited the barn and a small portion
of it vvas burned. A straw stack was destroyed. Only a few of the household
articles were saved. The loss, according to Chief Henry Es ler, amounted to ap-
proximately $3,500 ($47 ,619 today).

24. Central Block Corner of Main and Second Street, Look Drug Store,
Bachhuber-Deloria Clinic, J. W. Lefevre Law Office, Kavanaugh Barber
Shop, Joseph ·w olf Tavern and fa rmers, and Merchants Bank
Damage to the extent of approximately $50,000 ($793,651 today) was
caused by fi re, smoke and water to the Central Block building Wednesday even-
ing, March 24, ] 937. Mrs. Schuler, who was visiting at Anna Beyer's apart-
ment in the building, was leaving the apartment when she discovered the blaze.
The storage compartment on the norLheast corner of the second story was
105
enveloped in names al the lime and fire was rapidly spreading along the hall-
way of the building. Beyer turned in the alarm and the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment quickly responded. Within a short time streams of water were poured into
the building through windows in the rear and on che roof above. Two lines of
hose \Vere attached to the hydrant on the comer or Main and Second Street and
two streams of water were pumped from the power canal a short distance away
by the sma 11 fire truck.
The blaze was bel ievecl to be under control within an hour but then broke
out again . The Appleton Fire Depa rtment was called and atTi ved in time to help
save the first fl oor of the Central Block and adjoining buildings. The Appleton
truck pumped water from the power canal and added rwo streams on the fire.
Firemen fro m both Appleton and Kaukauna fire departments fought the blaze
unti I after 1 a.m.
Carl Engerson. member ol' the Kaukauna Fire Department. was overcome
by dense smoke and was taken from the building to the Farmers and Merchants
Bank across the street ror medical allention. He was rushed to St. Elizabeth
Hospital by ambulance and treated.
Willing workers assisted in sav ing valuable records of Drs. Bachhuber and
Deloria offices, Look 's Drug Store, and Attorney Joseph Lefevre office on the
first lloor of the buildi ng. Desks and files were removed from the quarters in
rapid succession. Many va luable articles from Look's Drug Store were carried
from the bui lding lo Mul holla nd's Tea Shop across the street Practically all of
the furnishings and fixtures ol' the Kavanaugh Barber Shop located on the main
flo or of the bu ilding were saved. The bui ldi ng owned and ope rated since 1933
by the Farmers and Merc hant Bank Trust Company was almost a complete
wreck. The flam es comp letely gutted the second story and water and smoke
caused serious damage lo the rema incler of the building.
The stock of the Look Drug Store was so badly damaged by water and
smoke that none of it could be sa lvaged . The loss amounted close to $ I0.000
($ 158. 730 today) according to Ari Look. manager. The furniture. fi xtures.
books and equipment in the Bachhuber and Deloria clinics were unfit for further
use. Dr. Bachhuber stated that his loss would be in che vicinity of 57.000
(S I 11. 111 today) . Or. Deloria·s loss was approximately 52.500 (539.683 to-
day).
Nothing was saved from the law offic e or J. W. Lefevre because of the
dense smoke and the rapid spread or the lire. Lefevre's loss was about $3.000
($47,6 19 today). Ernmd Kavana ugh, owner and operator of the Kavanaugh
Barber Shop, stated hi s loss was approxirnately 5300 ($4. 762 today). The Jo-
seph Wolf Tavern located on the lirst lloor of the building was damaged to the
ex tent of about $400 ($6,349 today).
Furn iture and fi xtures in the hall on the second floor of the building known
as Farmers and Merchants Ba nk Hall . which was used by various organizations
as a meeting place. was destroyed. The furniture in the hall was owned by St.
Mary's Court No 118 Men Catholic Order of Foresters and •vas covered by in-
surance. Other items stored in the hall included expensive ritualistic material,
106
books, fil es, and other lodge equipment.
Other lodges which held meetings in the hall regularl y were the Foresters,
Kaukauna Aerie No. 1416 Fraternal Order of Eagles, Pulp and Paper Makers
Unions, and Catholic Knights of Wisconsin Branch 64 W.C.O.F. St. Mary' s
Court No. 556. Damage to the property of the lodges was estin-iated at approxi-
mately $3 ,000 ($4 7.6 19 today). Most of the losses of the bui lding and occu-
pants were covered by insurance.
The W. C. Diller and Son Plumbing and Heating building which was adja-
cent to Central Block was threatened throughout the fire but was saved through
the efforts of the two fire companies. The Ditter building and equipment suf-
fered water and smoke damage.
The household furnishings and personal belongings or Mrs. Anna Beyer,
daughter Marie, and son Sylvester, who lived in an apartment just across the
hall where the llre was discovered, were seriously damaged by smoke and wa-
ter. Sylvester Beyer was moving the water soaked furni shings from his moth-
er's apartment Thursday when he recovered his purse containi ng $200 ($3 ,226
today) from the debris.
Several thousand residents of Kaukauna and surroundin g area jammed the
streets in the busin ess section to watch the firemen fi ght the blaze. Traffic on
Main Avenue was halted during the fire and no cars were allowed to pass the
building as hose lines were strewn about the streets. The en tire police force of
the city ass isted in keeping the crowds away from the building and in rerouting
traffi c along different streets. The fire represented one of the largest losses
Kaukauna had ever experienced.
The Loo k Drug Store and Dr. R. J. Deloria continued their business and
professions in the Odd Fellow building fom1erly occupied by Pontius Yaiiety
Store. Look Drug Store opened for business immediately. Kavanaugh 's Barber
Shop set up temporary quarters in tbe old Grand View Hotel building.

25. Kauknuna Lumber and Manufacturing Company's Five Sheds


Damage or $2,000 (S>32,787 today) was caused to fiv e bui !dings at the
yards of the Kaukauna Lumber and Manufacturing Company Thursday morning
about 2 a.m. on June 17, 1937. The origin of the fire was undetermined.
The fire was di scovered by employees of Thilmany Mill and the power
house who reported the fire at once. The fire department responded and two
streams of water were poured on the blaze. The fire was completely extin-
gui shed after an hour and a half. Buildings totally destroyed included the ce-
ment shed containing 1,000 cement bags and a cement bag cleaning machine.
A sewer pipe storage shed in which a large quantity or sewer pipe was broken
and destroyed. A shed containing a large quantity or brick and a tool house,
which was fo rmerly the lime house and the hardwood shed. were also de-
stroyed.
Mr. Bergman stated that the buildings would be rebuilt as soon as possible
and the cement bag clean ing machine would be replaced.

107
26. Flynn Ice House on the bank of the Fox River near Wertheimer Home
The ice house o r the Flynn Ice Company was totally destroyed by fire on
July 5, 193 7. According to Wi lliam P. Flynn, owner and manager, the fire loss
was estimated al approximately $ 10,000 ($158,730 today). The build ing was
125 feet long, 60 feet wide and 22 fee t high and contained over 2,000 tons of
ice: very little which could be salvaged. There was no insurance on the ice or
the building Flynn said. Two streams of water were poured on the blaze until 5
a.111. Tuesday morn ing. Chief Henry Esler said one stream was directed upon
the roof of the M. A. Wertheimer residence located on Wi sconsin Avenue, north
of the ice house. Twenty-three-hundred feet of fire hose was used. Two fi re
trucks answered the alarm and all members of the department were called to
help extinguish the blaze wh ich reached unusual proportions because of the
burning hay and straw in which the ice was stored inside the frame building.
The Flynn lee House was one of the Landmarks of Kaukauna which was
constructed 40 years earlier by Luther Lindauer. Several other icemen had op-
erated the ice house s ince Li ndauer's time and up to the time Mr. Flynn took
over the business.
According to the owner, the business would continue without delay and ice
would be purchased from other concerns. The icehouse was never rebuilt. Mr.
Flynn sued the city fo r causing the fire during the Fourth of July fireworks show
at La Follette Park. He lost the su it.

27. Mrs. R. F. Bohm Barn, Six Other Buildings and Equ ipment on Route I
Sparks in a hammermill machine, which was bei ng operated in the barn
owned by Mrs. R. F. Bohm started a fire at 3:30 p.m. on July 29, 1937. The fire
compl etel y destroyed the huge barn, six other buildings and all farm equipment,
hay and some cattle.
Richard Bohm, a nephew of Ray E. Bohm and Earl Feldt, was emp loyed
on the fa rm to operate the hammermill machine (which cuts the hay before it is
fed to the cattl e). A quanti ty of stones got into the mach ine while it was in op-
eration . The stones were ground against the steel cutters of the machine and
caused the sparks that started the fi re. The hay and sparks were fo rced into the
bin with the blower on the machine and the fire spread so rapid ly that nothing
could be saved.
The Kaukauna and Little Chute fire departments vvere cal led and it was
only through the effo rts or the departments and neighbors who formed a bucket
brigade that the house and other surrounding buildings were saved.
The sparks from the fire spread to various other buildi ngs as fa r as a quar-
ter a mi le away. Several of the buildings owned by William Hietpas, Anton
Mil ler and the Rose Hill Tavern were ignited but quick work on the part of
neighbors and bystanders saved the buildings. Sparks ignited and burned sever-
al hay and grain fields in the vicinity. Among the bui !clings on the premises
which were destroyed was a 36 by 90 foot barn which was newly constructed
the prev ious summer. More than 150 tons of alfalfa hay stored in the barn was
destroyed. It was the first year that hay was placed in the new barn. The
108
machine shed, new building with every piece of farm machinery, much of
which was new, \:vas also destroyed. The new mi lk house building, the tool
shed, granary, chicken coop and corn crib and contents were all destroyed by
the fire. Two silos were also destroyed. A bull and seven calves perished in the
fire. Ray E. Bohm estimated his loss would amount to at least $ 15,000
($238,095 today), partia lly covered by insurance.
The Little Chute Fire Department pumped water from the cistern in the
home which was used to prevent the spread of the flames and to put out sparks
which were blowing about the yard near the Bohm residence. Members of the
t\:VO fire departments poured water on the roof of the res idence.
The farm was owned by Mrs. R. Bohrn but was leased and operated by Ray
E. Bohrn , a son who operated a dairy . Ray E. Bohrn resided at 60 I Maloney
Road where the dairy headquarters was located. The only hay which remained
from the entire season's crop was stored in a barn at the R. E. Bohrn residence
on Maloney Road.

28. Klumb Building, Wagon Shop and Residence on 235 Dodge Street
The Dec embcr 6, I 93 7, wagon shop fire was believed Lo have started from
a defective furn ace. The blaze caused approximately $5,000 ($80,645 today)
damage to the shop and residence of William Klurnb.
The Ka ukauna Fire Department used two streams of water on the building
fo r two hours before the tire was entirely extinguished. The fire had a good
start before it was discovered by the family who lived on the second story of the
building. The furnace was on the first floor in Mr. Klumb 's wagon shop.
Klumb had been in business in the same building for the previous 60 years.
Flames spread rapidly through both stories and to the roof of the frame struc-
ture. Members or the fam ily escaped the flames but all cloth ing, personal be-
longings and furni ture were destroyed by the tire or water. Little of the equip-
ment in the wagon shop was salvaged. There was $3 ,000 ($49, 180 today) in-
surance on the building and contents. The Klumb building was one of the land-
marks in Kaukauna. Several frame structures adjacent to it were threatened by
the flam es.
There was from $5-$ 100 ($820 to $1,639 today) worth of damage to the
Lummerding building localed east of the Klumb building. The Lumrnerding
damage was caused by excessive heat which damaged the roof and by brick
from the ch imney of' the Klumb building when it fell through a window into the
Lummcrdi ng bu i !ding.

29. Frank Weila nd Farm Home on County Trunk J about Four Miles
Northwest of Kaukauna
The fa rm home of Fred Weiland was totally destroyed by fire Thursday
morning on November 3, 1938. The fire started from a spark from the chimney.
Damage was estimated at $3,500 ($57,377 today).
The eflorts of the Kaukauna F ire Department saved all of the other farm
buildings, located near the home. The department answered the call to the
109
Weiland home after Mayor L. F. Nelson and members of the Police and Fire
Committee granted them permission.
Two streams of water were used, one turned on Lhe names to keep them
down. and the other onro the surrounding buildings. A bucket brigade was
formed to carry water to the large fire truck la nk from which it was then
pumped onto the names and surrounding buildings. The department worked for
2-1 /2 hours before returning to Kaukauna.

30. John Van Elzen Barn Darboy Road south of Kimberly


On August 29, 1939, fire from spontaneous combustion destroyed the barn
and contents on the John Van Elsen farm. Kaukauna Fire Department, using the
Town of Buchanan fire truck, answered the ca ll. The liremen pumped 700 gal-
lons of water from the truck but it was not enough Lo control the fire. The blaze
leveled the building and destroyed 250 bushel s or oats and barley, a grain bind-
er, plow, 25 chickens and 15 rabbits. A nearby haystac k a lso burned. The
loss was estimated at $3,000 ($49, 180 today) and was partial ly covered by in-
surance. The oats destroyed belonged to John Polman, a neighbor, who planned
to thresh with Van Elzen .

31. Kaukauna Machine Corporation Hwy 4 1 (now Hwy 00) and Hwy 55
On December 12, 1939, at 11 :30 p.m. fire. bel ieved to have started from
sparks from an electric welding machine, caused damage estimated at $5,000
($8 1,96 7 today) to the Kaukauna Machine corporat ion. The blaze was di scov-
ered by Elmer Dins or Appleton , who was driving past lhe plant on Highway
41. He turned in the a larm. fireman Carl Engerson stra ined himself as he
helped extinguish the blaze and was taken to SL Elizabeth Hospi tal , where he
was operated on for a rupture. Firemen remained at the blaze 2-1 /2 hours.

KPL.2012

Central Rlock and next two buildings consumed by tire

11 0
1940 - 1949 Decade

In January of 1940 the Town of Vandenbroek \\'rote to the City of Kaukau-


na requesting fi re protecti on. Alderman Luebke to ld the council that the Police
and Fire Commission suggested that if adjacent towns wanted lire protection
they should hire two men at the regular rate of pay and station them al the
Kaukauna Fire Department.
The council voled lo noti fy in writing the towns of Vandenbroek, Kaukau-
na and Buchanan to ask if they \Vere interested in such an arrangement. If so,
planning meetings would be set up. No action was taken by the end or the
1940s.
During the 40s decade Chief Henry Esler issued warnings and important
fire prevention ti ps. He stressed making sure summer homes were protected.
Most were bui lt or llammabl e materials and were a long way from the nearest
tire department. Combustion from improperly stored combustible materials
remained high on the list along with cigarette butts, burning leaves and yard
waste.
Chimney fires were still a major cause of fires. Esler stressed replacing
worn shi ngles and broken lightning rods, and cleaning the chimney by pulling a
heavy chai n up and down through the chimney from above. He stressed not
placing pennies in fuse boxes and keeping basements clean to avoid spontane-
ous combustion.
In ovember 1944 on recommendation of Fire Chief Esler. the city council
voted to accept the bid of Fabric Hose Company, which offered 500 leet of hose
at S I. I0 (S 14. 10 today) per fool. In J949 the counci I approved the bid by Bi
Lateral Fire Hose Company for 500 feet of Super Flex Brand hose at $ 1.46
($ 14.3 I today) per foot.
At the same meeting the counci l approved the bids from Verfurth Shoe
Store fo r nine pairs of Good rich Brand Firemen 's boots al a cost or S 1 l .50
($1 12.75 today) per pair and 11 rain coats, Janesvil le Brand No. 1 quality at a
cost or $14. 75 (S 144.61 today) per coat.
Equipment pu rchases were kept to a minimum due to the war. The War
Production Board needed Lo approve any major purchases, especial ly tires, tools
and trucks.
In January I945 l'iremcn attended classes at the Kaukauna Vocational
School once a week fo r I l weeks. Subjects covered were hydrau lics, chemi stry
or fire, care and use of small extinguisher, pump operation, care and use of li re
hose, care and use of ladders, sa lvage and overhaul, ropes and knots, building
inspection. hose loads, and first aid. The schooling was tested when the lire
department held practice days with the equipment and trucks.
Firemen allended lirsl aid classes throughout the 40s. In January 1945 a
complete investigation of the Kaukauna Fire Dcpanment was authorized by the
city counciI. The counci l wanted the Police and Fire Commi ss ion to conduct
the investi gation of how well the department functioned and inspect al l the lire

111
department trucks and equipment. The Police and Fire Commission wanted to
hire an investigator. The commiss ion did not want to act in the role of investiga-
tor and judge. The commission felt that the person making the investigation
should be qua Ii lied lo determine whether the equipment at the local department
was adequate and whether it had been properly operated. The commission was
asking not only for the study of comp laints, but for the protection of members
of the department i r they were al fa ult. Under the present condition it wou ld be
hard to hire add iti ona l firemen if no assurance was given that they would retain
their jobs alter the war was over.
Carl Engerson. Ass istant Fire Chief. brought up another problem. How
could the city make owners fi x up their buildings? There were a lot of danger-
ous bui ldings waiting to be consumed by a fire in the city. Since 1928 the fire
department had asked fo r an ordinance to fix up buildings idenli fied as fire haz-
ards. Nothing was done. Most aldermen agreed that there was nothing the fire-
men could have done lo save the bui lding in the last major tire, the Oddfellow
building. The city council decided to wait unti l the state departmen t issued a
report.
In 1945 representati ves or the fire insurance bureau were in Kaukauna con -
ducting a survey and tests or the city Ii relighting equipment and water avai lable
for firefighting. The bureau made regular inspections and its repo11 had a bear-
ing on fire insurance rates fo r the city.
That same year Fire Chier Henry Esler appeared before the city council
with a request for one additional man on each shift. The underwriters' report
noted the series or disastrous fires the previous winter and recommended two
additi onal firefighters on each shift. Es ler was asking to acid one man on each
shill. It was practically impossible during the war to hire men, especiall y when
those stil l at home cou ld ea rn more money anywhere else. The city council ap-
proved adding two men per shirt.
Fire Chi ef Esler in 1946 recommended adopting a fire alarm system at the
council meeting. Esler pointed out that in many instances telephones were not
aYai lablc 10 anyone wishing to report a fire, especially when fires occurred late
at night. A fire alarm that could have originated from the Thilmany Mill was
delayed because the central switchboa rd at tbe mill was discon nected after of-
fice hours. A stranger pass ing through the city at night and seeing a lire would
have to find the fire department to report it.
Al the fol lowing coun<.: il meeting counci l members were asked to study the
$ 15,000 ($ 180,723 today) proposa l to insta ll 38 fire alarm boxes, receiving and
record ing equi pment in the fire department, a gong for sounding alarms, neces-
sary switchboard battery racks, protection equipment and al l devices needed to
comply with rules or the No rtheast Board and the Wisconsi n Bureau of Inspec-
tion . No action was taken.
Kaukauna firemen were granted a $I 0 ($12 I today) per month raise in
1946. The follow ing year the firemen requested that their wage sca le be equal-
ized with that of the pol ice department. Mayor Bayorgeon favored the plan, say-
ing both departments were equall y responsible for the protection or 8,200
11 2
people and 12 million dollars of property.
Five fires. late trains, and busy street crews hi ghlighted the sub zero weath-
er in February I949. Two thirds of the nation felt the effects of -15 degree
weather and violent blizzards for almost a week. During this time the fire de-
partment braved the weather five times during a 14-hour stretch on a Saturday.
The fires included three chimney fires and two automobile fires.
Fire Chief Henry Esler retired May I, 1949. Carl Engerson was appointed
fire chief.

Major Fires 1940 - 1949

1. Tastee Bakery on 130 West T hi rd Street


The fire. started in the doughnut kettle at the Tastee Bakery, caused dam-
age of approximately S2,000 (S32,787 today) early Friday morning on January
I 5, 1940.
Fi remen carried Mrs. Clarence Vogl and her 15-month-old son to safety
when names and smoke blocked the regu lar exit. They were sleeping on the
second lloor of the building where they resided .
Vogt. operator of the bakery, discovered the tire when he smelled smoke
whi le he was working in the bakery shop. He extinguished the flames tempo-
rarily by Lhrowing rugs over them. He then warned his fami ly and called the
fire department.
The fl ames spread rapidly upward through the wall of the building directly
above the doughnut room and continued on through the attic and roof. Arter
two hours of work the chief called for a second fire truck because firemen were
hampered by the dense smoke. Most or the damage was caused by water and
smoke.

2. Brochtrup Barn on Route 1, Greenlea f


On September I4, 1940, at 8:20 a. m. fire of undetermined origin destroyed
a new barn fi lled with hay and straw on the William H. Brochtrup farm. The
Wrightslown, Greenleaf, Kaukauna, and Buchanan fire departments were cal led
lo the scene and were successful in saving all the other buildings on che farm.
Three head of cattle were burned lo death in the blaze. The loss or the barn ,
whi ch contained modern equipment, was estimated at $3,000 ($50,000 today).
The loss was partially covered by insurance.

3. Lawr·ence Vaubel's Residence on 2 19 West Seventh Street


Fire. \\·ater and smoke caused S5.000 (S 14.085 today) damage to the Law-
rence Vaubel home at 8: 15 a.m. on March 27, 1942. The blaze was discovered
by Leo Hennes, who was employed in the office of the Kaukauna Electric and
Water Department, while on hi s way to work. He immediately turned in the
alarm and notified the Vaubel family, who were not avvare that their home was

113
in flames.
The blaze spread rapidly through the attic over the kitc hen and into the at-
tic over the larger section of the house. It \Vas aided by a hi gh ve loc ity wind.
The attic over the kitchen was completely destroyed together with a large part
of the attic over the rest or the building. Much of the damage was caused by
smoke and water. The fire department laid about 400 feet or hose and also used
the chemical apparatus.

4. Black Hom estead on Highway 41 W est of C ity Limits


On Apri l 1, 1942. the old Black homestead was badly damaged by fire.
The two-apartment residence was occupied by Edward Kappcll and Ben Verho-
ven fami lies.
Kaukciuna firem en laid 1,300 feet of hose to reach the nearest hydrant at
the corner of Draper and Black Streets. Traffic on the highway and on old
Highway 41, 110\V Cou nty Trunk V, was halted for a"vhi le as the hose was
stretched across these roads. The firemen also had to dig holes beneath the Chi-
cago and Northwestern ra il way track to lay the hose under the rails to reach the
hydrant. Estimated loss was about $1,000 ($ 14,085 today).

5. Freight Dep ot at C&NW Railway Depot on West Second Street


On April 15, 1942, fire caused substantial damage to the C&NW Railway
freigh t depot warehouse and contents. The flam es were confined to the upper
part of the build ing and had a good start before it was discovered by workmen
at the Fox River Veneer Company. "·ho turned in the alarm.
The Kaukauna Fi re Depa1tment used two streams of water and chemical
from the fire truck in fighting the flames. Damage incl uded water and smoke.
The fire smoldered throughout the 'ni ght in several rolls o!' carpet matting and
the fire department was ca lled again about 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning to extin-
guish the blaze for a second time. Damage was estimated al $ 1,000 ($14,085
today). The warehouse building was formerly the passenger depot for the old
Mi lwaukee Lake Shore and Western railroad.

6. H. S. Nicholas Farm Buildings in th e Town of Buchanan on the Road


between Kim berly and Appleton
On June 13. 1942, spontaneous combustion caused $3.000 ($42,857 today)
damage to 11. S. Nicho las fa 1111 buildings. The Kaukauna Fire Department an-
swered the lirst alarm with the Town of Buchanan truck at 5 p.111. Firemen
found the icholas barn. along with baled paper. estimated to be about four tons
stored there. burning. The flames spread to other farm buildings including the
machine shed, ch icken coop. milk house, and several other small buildings.
All of these buildings were destroyed along with two tons of hay and a small
amount or feed. The firemen confined their efforts to protect the home and one
shed which were saved.
The Kaukauna firemen returned to the station and were called back to the
farm al 9:50 p.m. when the wind shifted and the house was again threatened by
11 4
the names. Firemen stayed al the scene of the fire until I r1.1n. Sunday.

7. Fire Ch ief Ester's House on East Seventh Street


Considerable damage to Fire Chief Esler·s home, espec ial ly the roof. was
caused by lire on April 2 I , I 943 , at I 0:30 a.m. The tire was discovered by Hu-
go Weif"enbac h. who was passing by the home. He alerted the fa mil y. Chief
Es ler phoned in the alann . The firemen at the station at lirsl lhought Es ler was
joking. One of the firemen, Martzahl, convinced the others that it wasn't a joke
and the fire department responded.
IL was thought that the fire started from a spark from the chimney and de-
stroyed the roof.

8. Rcichcl's Ice House adjacent to Bayorgeon Field


On September 5, I 943, fire of an undetermined ong1n completely de-
stroyed Reichel 's Ice House along with 500 cakes of ice. Business operations
were not disrupted since several tiers of ice at the very bottom or the ice house
were not damaged by the fire, heal or water poured on the !lames.
William State, Sr.. night watchman at the municipal building, was the first
LO discover the blaze. He saw clouds of smoke from the second lloor of the mu-
nicipal bui ldi ng as he was making his final round about 5: 15 a.m. He turned in
the alarm. The tire evidently was burning for a long time before discovered.
When the Kaukauna Fire Department arrived the ice house \\'as in flames and
the rool' had already collapsed.
Members of the Reichel family were at church services when the fire was
discovered and didn 't find out about the tire until they returned home. Reichel
stated that he would rebuild the ice house in fall. The bui lding was bui lt in
1914 or wood and tin and was always owned by the Reichel fam ily. Located
adjacent to the Kaukauna baseball park, it brought back memories to many
baseba ll fans the old expression , "hit it over the ice house, good for a home
run."

9. Stroctz Grocery Store, F irst Realty and Investment Company Building,


and Foxgrover Ba1·bershop on 216 Main Street
On Jan uary 6, 1944, the First Realty and Investment Company building
was almost comp letely destroyed by lire which started at about 6:30 a.m. The
fire started Thursday morning in the basement of lhe Stroctz Food Market when
a kerosene stove used to heat water exploded. The blaze was di scovered by
Ralph Stroctz, Sr.. who immediately n1rned in an alarm Lo the tire department.
After Stroctz summoned the fire department, he warned his wife and son who
were sleep ing. Because of the dense smoke they were fo rced Lo leave the build-
ing with only the clothes they were able to find on their way out. Mr. Stroetz
was forced to leave the building on his hands and knees.
Upon arrival the fire depa1tmenl extinguished the blaze in the vicinity of
the kerosene stove but the fl ames had entered the wall between the Stroetz gro-
cery and the Norman Foxgrover Sr. Barbershop and spread rapidly throughout
I I5
the two-story brick veneer building.
Firemen used five streams of water on the burning building until 11 a.m.
Two streams or water were used on the Maron Hauschcl tavern and residence,
a frame structure adjacent to the First Realty company building. The only dam-
age in the Hausc hel living quarters was caused by dense smoke. All the fire-
fi ghting equipment was ca lled to the scene of the fire and auxiliary firemen
were ca lled in to he lp fi ght the blaze in near zero degree weather and a strong
southeast wind. The Stroctz 1iving quarters on the second noor were complete-
ly destroyed and all household belongings including vn luab lcs, furniture , fix-
tures and c lothes, was Jost. The entire roof of the building was destroyed by the
names.
Stock and lixtures and eq uipment in the Stroetz grocery were completely
destroyed by smoke and water. Inventory stock lost was nearly $10,000 ($
133,333 today). The loss was partially covered by insurn nce.
Some or the Stroetz store records and a box co ntaining $450 ($6,000 to-
day) worth 01· war savings bonds owned by Ralph Stroetz, .Jr., were recovered
a flcr the lire was extinguished Thursday noon. A purse belonging to Stroetz
containing over $ I00 in cash was lost in the fire. All equipment of the Fox-
grover Barbershop was removed from the building and was saved with the ex-
ception or the mirrors which were attached to the walls. Mr. Foxgrover opened
his shop in the Wendt building. next to the Schermitzlcr Grocery Store. ,,·hile
the Stroetz Food Market opened Monday morning in the Martens bui lding for-
merly occupied by the A venue Grocery Company on East Thi rd Street.
.Julius J. Martens of the First Realty and Investment Company told a Times
representative Thursday afternoon that the building was a co mplete loss and no
attempt wou ld be made to rebui ld it. Fire Ch ief Henry Esler estimated the loss
or the bui lcling al about $8,000 ($ 106,667 today).
All of' the businesses were in the buildi ng known as the Mill Block, about
three-fourths of which, was owned and occupied by the Kaukauna Times Print-
ing Company. The build ing was separated from the rest of' the block by a fire
wall wh ich protected the Times structure from damage by lire. The only flames
which threatened the Times building were those which destroyed a sun porch on
the Times roof just north of the fire wall. The damage lo the Times quarters
was ca used by smoke and water. A quantity of paper stock was destroyed when
water fl ooded the basement. The greatest water damage was in the room which
houses the newspaper press and the large motor used l o operate the newspaper
press. The paper was still delivered, only later in the day.
Work at the Kaukauna Times was halted during the morning hours Thurs-
day because or the possible danger of the roof collapsing under the weight of
water. The Times bui lding was a one story building while the First Realty
Company building was two stories.
This was the second largest fire loss in the Mill block. The last one oc-
curred on November 2 1, 193 1, during the earl y morning hours and started from
sponta neous combustion.
T he building was originall y erected by the late /\ugust Mill about 1884
l 16
with an addition added a few years later. For many years the structure was the
business center of Kaukauna. August Mill developed a large dry goods busi-
ness and later established a bank there. Following the fire in 193 1 the greater
part of the building was rented by the Kaukauna Times Printing Company
whi ch had recently purchased the quarters it occupied. An addition was con-
structed by the Times Company along with remodeling.

10. Sangamon Paper MilJ on Thilmany Road


Fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed the main building of
Sangamon Paper Mill al 4 p.m. Tuesday morning on February 28, 1944. The
total loss was estimated at close 10 $300,000 ($3,896. I 04 today) according to T.
J. Russell , superin tendent of the mi ll. The fire started in the basement of the
three-story building and spread rapidl y throughout the building which was com-
pletely gutted by the fl ames.
Kaukauna and Appleton fire departments battled the flames , using the local
equipment and one pumper from Appleton, which was called as soon as the fire
was discovered. The Appleton pumper left the scene eluting the middle of the
morning while Kaukauna firemen poured streams of water on the smoldering
building during the clay . Firemen confined several streams to the south side of
the building, which was adjacent lo the Kaukauna hydroelectric plant. There
was no damage to the hydroe lectri c plant, but some equipment owned by the
city, which was housed in Sangamon mill , were completely destroyed, accord-
ing to H.F. Weckwerth, manager of the uti li ty. Wires running from the hydroe-
lectric plant to transformers nearby were heavil y coated vvith ice from the water
poured on the building. Operation of the hydroelectric plant proceeded without
interruption during the fire. The lire spread so fast Lhat it was impossible to
save even a small part of the main building of Sangamon Paper Mill. Intense
heat from the blazing infe rno kept the firemen from getting to the building.
Both floors in Lhe planL co llapsed together with the roof, but the two paper
machines ren1ained in pl ace due lo the fact that they were on a solid fo undation
of concrete and stone. However, it was impossible to salvage any part of the
paper machines other than for scrap materia l. All that was left of the building
were the four wal ls wh ich were constructed of stone or cement. One of the two
paper machines of the plant had been in operation with 30 men employed in the
mill. The company had been making bogus paper and bogus board (wood that
had been preserved in a peat bog) medium . Most of the production was for the
war effort.
The boiler house, storehouse and offi ce building, all separate from the
main plant. were undamaged from the fire. The direction of the wind had much
to do with saving the fi rm 's wa rehouse. The wind carried the smoke away from
large piles of pulpwood owned by Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company. The
blaze started near the north end or the 260-foo t building and fanned by a no1th
wind, spread rapidly through the plant being fed by large quantities of waste
paper stored in the mil l.
The fi re department was aided by auxi liary firemen from the Thilmany
117
Pulp and Paper Mill and auxiliary firemen from the Civilian Defense Corps.
T. J. Russell, superintendent of the Sangamon Paper Mill , said that there
was little hope that the plant would be rebuilt. The 30 empl oyees of the co mpa-
ny were "frozen" to their jobs under the War Manpower Comm ission regula-
tions and Russe ll stated that he expected the company would re lease the men so
that they would be absorbed by other local manufacturing concerns in the city
which had lost men to the armed fo rces.
Sangamon Paper Mi ll was a partnership owned by Joseph, Sam and Al Co-
hen of Chicago . T he bui ld ing was built in 1887-1 888 by Patten and Priest on
property purchased from the Chicago and Northwestern rai lroads and was
known as the Outagami e Mill. Since that time the paper mill was owned by the
Patten Paper Company. During the years of Depression the property was taken
over by the utility commi ss ion. At that time the commission utili zed the water
rights to bui ld the power plant in that area. The mill was sold to the Sangamon
Paper Company in 1940. There was a period immediately after the Pea rl Ha r-
bor attack during which the mill was idle. Years later in January 1945, Thil-
many Pulp and Paper Mill purchased the property.
The Kaukauna Electrical and Water Departments would receive $ I 0,000
insurance on the Sangan1on Paper Mill fire if the mill was not rebuilt as a paper
manu facturing plant. When the city sold the plant to the Sangamon. there was
an agreement clrav.m up that the mill must be used as a paper manufacturing
plant for at least fi ve years and that in the event the mill was destroyed by tire
the Electrical and Wate r Departments could claim SI 0,000 of the insurance. Ir
the plant was rebuilt fo r the purpose of manu facturing paper. the$ l 0.000 would
be used to rebuild the plant.
The fire that destroyed the old mill came at a time 'vvhen the Sangamon
Mill had been greatly modernized and production had been increased steadily.
C itizens of Kauka una were concerned that the mill would not be rebuilt. At that
time there seemed to be little hope that it would again be put into production.
Mr. Cohen announced that every possible effo1t would be made to resume oper-
ation in Kaukauna. The mill was not rebuilt.

11. Andersen Service Hardware and Schell Bowling Alley on West Wiscon-
sin Avenue
A $75 ,000 ($974,026 today) tire destroyed the Andersen Service Hardwa re
and Sche ll Bowling Alley on November 30, 1944. This probably was one of
the greatest and most destructive daylight fires to have taken place in the city
T he tire was detected by Carl Andersen in his building about 8 a.m. He
smelled smoke and upon investigation found the fire near the furnace. Ander-
sen immediately told one 0 1~ hi s employees to notify the fire department and in a
minute the smoke was so dense everyone was forced from the building with no
opportunity to save any of the val uables or stock.
Shortly aller smoke was seen emerging from the roof al the rea r or the
bui lding and it was evident that the hardware building was doomed in spite of

118
the best efforts of firefighters. The blaze had spread between the walls and had
reached the second story. At first it was believed that the Schell building could
be saved, but the fire was already burning through the walls. When fire broke
out, Mrs. Schell and family were forced to tlec, leaving all personal belongings
behind. The firemen concentrated on controlling the fire so Lhat it would not
spread to other buildings on the block. The walls of the Schell building held
and the dcstruclion was confined to the two buildings.
All of Kaukauna's firefighting equipment was utilized and Chief Henry
Esler called on the Appleton and Little Chute fire departments to aid. Appleton
responded with a I ,000 gallon pumper, 1,200 feet of hose and six men.
ln addition, the Thilmany Fire Company sent 12 men under its fire chief,
Harold Newton, all of whom assisted the local firem en and also operated a 50-
gallon auxiliary pumper unit which was part of the Citizens Defen se Corps
equipment. The auxiliary pumper 'vvas a 500 gallon unit mounted on a two-
wheel trailer and pumped water out of the canal just east or the Lawe Street
bridge. ln spite of the extreme elevation from the canal to the street level, an
effective stream of water was directed on the fire by this effici ent portable
pumper. The Thilmany men had received special training and experience as
firefighters at the mill, providing additional protection for the plants and yards.
Fire Chief Henry Esler requested that the appreciation of members of his
department be extended to the many citizens who aided them during the hours
they were engaged in fighting the fire on Wiscons in Avenue. He mentioned
especially La Fiesta Restaurant , l-lotel Kaukauna, Van Rhyn's Meal Market,
Ben Franklin Store, and Electric City Brewing Company for furnishing lunch-
eon and refreshments.
Mrs. Schell had comp letely refinished and refurnished the bowling alleys
and tavern during the summer and was enjoying a very successfu l bowling sea-
son. She had planned on installing four additional all eys next season. Plans
were immediately made to rebuild and install modern alleys. Mr. and Mrs. Carl
Anderson had their grand opening Friday, November I7, and enj oyed a wonder-
ful reception from the public. They had spent many hours of work in bu ilding
di splay racks, shelves and counters. Both expressed a des ire to get right back
into business and rebuild as soon as possible.
By June the Anderson Service Hardware building was modernized even
more than it was when the fire struck and wiped out all the work whi ch had
been put into the new location. New fluoresce nt lighting fixtures spread light
throughout the entire store. Blue shelves provide a pleasant contrast to the tan
walls and the bright pottery and attractive display stands added a colorful note
to the store. Due to the shortage of materia l, the date of com pletion was uncer-
tain. Both losses were partially covered by insurance. There was smoke and
incidental damage to the George Egan insurance office building and the John
Niesen building, located one on each side of the buildings destroyed by fire.
Alice Schell appealed to the War Production Board (W PB) requesting that the
building be repaired at once. In her appea l Alice pointed out that workers in
industry were on long shifts, \.VOrking a great amount of overtime, and having to
119
travel lo neighboring towns to bowl was a hardship, as so much time was con-
sumed in travel. To bowl at the home alleys meant perhaps a two-hour shift and
a chance to get some rest before returning to work. Practically all local indus-
tries and un ions representing the workmen joined in the appeal for the restora-
ti on 01· the alleys. pointing out that bowling provides exce llent recreation for
men and women engaged in the industry. Shortly after, Joseph Bayorgeon an-
nounced that the Schell Bowli ng Alley received word that the WPA approved
the project ror restoring the alleys. Restoration began at once and four more al-
leys were added for a total of eight alleys.

12. Oddfellow Block and Looks Drugstore on 112 East econd Street
Fire destroyed the Oddfellow bu ilding sho11ly after l 0 p.m. on Wednesday,
December 28, 1944. The stock of Look Drng Store housed on the first fl oor
was badly damaged by the tire and water. The loss to the building and stock
was estimated at about $35,000 ($448,718 today).
John Ditter, who was wo rking in the plumbing shop adjacent to the Odd
Fell ow bui !cling on the west side, noticed smoke in his basement shortly after I0
p.m . and reported the fi re. When firemen affived, they fo und the fire was in the
basement of the drug store. i\rrhur Mongin, druggist, left the store at 9:50 p.m.
but didn't notice anything wrong.
The lire department auxilia1y firemen and Thilmany auxiliary firemen
helped battle the !lames all night. Several streams of \\"ater were directed on the
fire. The fire department's 500-gallon and 750-gallon pumpers were pressed
into service along with the booster line from the Town or Buchanan truck.
Firemen prevented the fire from spreading fro m the Odd Fellow bui lding on the
west and a small rrame buildi ng on the east, the lal\er occ upied by Marvin De
Witt ·s shoe repa ir shop. Four feet of wa ter was in the basements or the two ad-
joining bui ldings the morning after the fire. Firemen fought the blaze in sub-
zero weather. The destroyed structure was erected in 1894 by Waller Sanger,
who operated a clothing and d1y goods store. The Odd Fellow bui ld ing was
occupied by the Kaukauna Times office from 1930 to 1932 when the Times
moved to its new location on Main Avenue in l 932. Pontius Varie ty Store oc-
cupied the Odd Fellow Building from 1932 to 1937 when the business space
was taken over by Look Drug Store.
The drug store was fo unded by Otto Look, fa the r of Arthu r Look, in 19 19.
Arthur took over the bus iness in 1924. The business was in the Central bl ock
(build ing) in which a fire occurred in 1937. The store was then moved to the
Odd Fellow bui lding. The Look Drug Store resumed business in temporary
quarters provided by Dave Hartjes, who offered to share his store at I09 East
Third Street unti l a permanent location for the drugstore was a\ai lable. Mr.
Hartjes continued to operate his business in part of his building. The face that
major electric appliances were not available due to curtailment or production for
civi lians during the war made it possible for him to provide temporary space for
Look Drug Store. By June the outside of Look Drug Store was completed and
shortly a rter the inside was completed.
120
13. Gam ble Stor e, Building and Loan a nd Grandview Hotel o n 109 West
Second Str·eet
The fifth major lire in Kaukauna in about a year completely destroyed the
interior of the Gamble store Monday evening on January 8, 1945. Very little
sa lvage remained of the large stock of merchandise housed in the bui !ding. The
Grand View Hote l, whi ch adjoined the store to the east, was damaged by water
and the bui lding occupied by the Bui lding and Loan Association to the west was
similarl y damaged. The loss to the Gamble store building and property was
estimated at about $25,000 ($320,5 13 roday).
The Appleton Fi re Department sent a pumper and six men under the com-
mand of Jake Lohn, assistant fire chief, to assist the Kaukauna crew in checking
any further spread. The Thi lmany Mill Fire Auxiliary and the Little Chute Fire
Department were also cal led. A maze of hoses and pumps was set up.
Wind tossed sparks and bi llowing smoke as flam es engulfed the store and
spread to the Grand View Hotel. Firemen knocked out one wall of the hotel to
check the oncom ing fire. Flames and danger of spreading seemed to be under
contro l by about I0 p.m. but li remen did not leave the scene until early the nex t
morning.
G. P. Krautkramer was the owner and operator of the Ga mble store and
Mrs. Eleanor Hansen owned the Grand View Hotel.

14. Nushardt Home on 1605 C leveland Avenue


Working in zero degree weather and under the most difficu lt conditions.
the Kaukauna Fire Department was unable to save the home and household fur-
niture of the George Nushardt home. The home burned co the fo undation al
about 6:30 p.m. on February 16, I945. The blaze started from chimney sparks
which set the roof on fire, quickly spreading until the entire upsta irs was ablaze.
The fami ly was eating supper when crackling noises were heard upscairs and on
opening the door to the upstairs, Nushardt saw the blaze. When the tire depart-
ment arrived, firemen encountered serious difficulty since a half mile of hose
had to be laid to the nearest hydrant. The loss was estimated by Nushardt at
about $3,200 ($41,026 today) which was partially covered by insu rance.

15. Breier Grocery Store on 120 W. W isconsin Avenue


The first major l~re since .January 8, 1945, occu1Tecl early Monday morning
on August 29,_ 1945 when firem en were called to the Breier Grocery at 2:30
a.m. Edwin Weber, 120 W. Fifth Street, taxi driver, noticed the flames and bro-
ken glass around the front or the store as he was driving down the avenue and
turned in the alarm. Fire Chief Henry Esler said the store was in names when
the department arrived and precautions were taken to keep the names from
spreading to the adjacent wall-Lo-wall buildings, the S. and B. Tavern and the
forme r Cash Way Store building. which was vacant. The next-door store build-
ings were not damaged.
f iremen remained at the site fo r two hours. The loss lo the stock and fix-
tures and the damage to the building amounted to about $6,000 ($76,923 today).
121
The loss was partially covered by insurance . The building was owned by
A. A. Gustrnan. The stock on the ground floor ,,·as destroyed and the wal ls and
ceiling badly scorched.
Someone had gained entrance lo the store by means or a rear \vindow and
took a small amount of cash prior to the time of the fire and it is presumed by
the lire and pol ice departments that the fire was deliberately started. Th ree oth-
er burglaries were reported that same morning. The righ t front window of the
Koc h Jewelry Store at 13 1 E. Second Street was broken into about 3 a.m. Mon-
day and two men's rings and a man's go ld identification brace let valued at s; 112
had been taken from the wi ndow. Inside the door several matches were fo und
with the heads burned off. Emmet Kavanaugh, 133 E. Second St. , who lived in
an apartment above his barber shop near the Koch Store. heard the noise and
looked from his \\'indo,,· in time to sec a coupe drive away. His description of
the car \\'3S not complete because of the darkness and distance.
On the same night a smal l amount of change was taken f'rom the cash reg-
ister al the Frank Grocery Store al I 18 W. Tobacnoir Street. The intruder broke
a window pane near the front door entrance after an unsuccessfu l attempt to
ent1.:r from the rear of the store. Orville A. Mi lton , who owned Mi lton's gro-
cery. 1002 Lawe Street, told police that someone had atlempted to enter his
store by removing screens from a back door and window. o footprints or oth-
er clues were evident and nothing had been taken.

16. Modern Da iry on 1122 C roo ks Avenue


The third major fire in I 945 occurred Tuesday on October 9, I 945, about
6:45 p.m. at the Modern Dairy which resulted in damage or approximately
$3,000 ($38,462 today), according lo Harold Link, owner. Link's daughter, Sal-
ly, was the fi rst to notice the lire when she saw smoke rol ling out of the roof
near the chimney. The chimney in the plant was comp letely destroyed and
there was some damage to the roo f' and walls, including both !'ire and water
damage. Some equi pment was lost, but not to the ex tent orshulli ng down oper-
ations al the dairy. The receivi ng eq uipment sustained litt le da mage. Pasteuriz-
ing equipment remained intact and in complete operation. The plant resumed
operation the next day \\'ith only a two-hour delay.

17. Lu m merding Coal and Woodyard on West T hir d Str eet


On May I6, 1946, a fi re or unk nown origin comp letely destroyed the coal
and wood yards of N. E. Lummcrcli ng. The blaze was discovered about I p. 111.
Th ursday afternoon by Mr. Lummerd ing. Before the firemen arri ved on the
scene. the wooden structures were ablaze and beyond hope or savi ng them. Ef-
forts lo save the office equipment were futile. Firemen concentrated on keeping
fire rrom spreading to the Fox River Veneer Company bui ldings directly across
the alley. The intense heat generated by the fast burni ng coa l and wood sheds
ca used some damage to the structure. but the sheet meta l siding, upon which a
steady stream of water was poured, saved it from considerable damage. Electric
and telephone serv ice equipment was damaged when flames licked against the
122
wires and poles started burning. Sparks fell on roofs of neighboring buildings
causing some minor damage. The bui ldings and inventory of coal, wood and
paint had a replacement value of nearly $20,000 ($235,294 today). The loss
was partially covered by insurance. The Lummerding coa l and wood yards had
operated for the last 30 years and originally was known as N. £. Lummerding.

18. Van Rhyn :Vleat Market on llS W est Wisconsin Avenue


Fire of undetermined origin caused an estimated $4,500 ($52,941 today)
worth of damage when it broke out in the Van Rhyn Meat Market building at
I2: 15 p.m. Thursday, October 3 1, 1946.
The fire started in the basement in the vicinity of a wood burning hot water
heater. The blaze ti lled one basement and proceeded between the wal ls to the
first and second Ooors filling them with smoke. John Yan Rhyn, owner of the
shop, had finished eating lunch in his apartment over the shop and had left the
building to get his car, which he kept in a garage on Doty Street. When he re-
turned to the shop, smoke was corning from the second story windows. Mrs.
Yan Rhyn was alone in the living quarters, and Miss Rose Schuh, a clerk, was
alone in the shop. Other workers had gone home lo lunch.
Most of the damage suffered was the $4,500 (S52,94 J) worth of meal
\-vhich had been stocked for weekend buyers. The meat was stored in a base-
ment and a first noor refrigerator, which were filled with smoke. About 20 live
chickens, which were kept in banks of wire cages in the basement, were su ffo-
cated by the smoke. Fi remen brought two trucks to the scene and quickly put
out the flames that were burning inside the walls of the frame bui lding by pour-
ing water into the walls from openings made at the second story leve l. The
blaze did not reach the furniture and persona l property in the livi ng quarters but
smoke did some damage to them.

19. C ar in Gustman Chevrolet Garage on Lawe Str eet


On August 2 l, 1948, the Kaukauna Fire Department was called to the
Gustman Chevrolet garage where a car caught fire. The liremen extinguished
the blaze. The customer's car, left for repairs, was a total loss estimated at
S 1.025 ($9, 761.90 today).

20. John Demerath 's Garage and Car at 215 ldlcwild Street
The Kaukauna f ire Department responded to a call to the John Demerath
residence on November 30, 1948. The garage and car inside were burned. Loss
was estimated at $3 ,560 (533,905 today).

123
Andersen Hardware and Schell Bowling Alley after fire

Photos courtesy or Lyle Hansen


124
EAST SECOND STREET KA

Look·s Drug Store is Third building from lcfl.

Grand view Hotel


Corner or Second and Main Streets where
East Wisconsin Sav ings now is located

125
Train Dcpol on north side

C & \\ D•1 •
s. ~ ,. •. \\ 0.

C & NW Depot on West Second Street

126
l 950 - 1959 Decade

The 1950s was the dead liest lire period in Kaukauna history. Fire de-
stroyed 11 businesses, a majori ty were historica l buil dings. I\ house tire on the
north s ide resulted in the dea th of s ix children ages 1- 1/2 to 7 years olcl . The
fire occu1Ted on December 21, 1958.
Fire Chief Carl Engerson announced his retirement effective December I5,
1952. Engerson started with the department in I 921 and became assistant fi re
chief in 1934. He was appoin ted chief when Henry Es ler retired in 1949.
In December the city counci l appointed Wi lliam Haupt lire ch ief. I laupt
joined the department as a full -Lime fireman in 1941 after working as a substi -
tute fireman from 1937 unti l 1940 . His fireman career was interrupted fo r al-
most fou r years when Haupt served in World War II . Theodore Smits 1,vas ap-
pointed assistant chief. Smits joined the department in I 942 alter serving as a
substitute for two summers.
The two additional firemen approved by the counciI in 1956 brough t the
total manpower up to 13 men, including the chic r.
The Police and Fire Commission obtained bids for a new fire truck in Au-
gust of 1952. The fi re department identified the need for the new truck 15 years
earlier and noted that the department had lo calI on Appl eton Fire Department
for assistance with several !ires. The mo in issue concerned the size of' the truck.
Chief Engerson reminded the council that in order to hold the present insurance
rates. the slate would not accept anything less than a truck that could pump 500
gallons per minute.
Bids for a 700-gal lon pumper we re subrnilled by 11 compan ies and 7 com-
panies submitted a bid for a 1.000-gallon pumper. The new lire truck would
replace the Town of Buchanan fi re truck which was schedul ed to be moved out
of the Kaukauna Fire Department. Many of the companies sent demonstrator
fire trucks for the tire department to try out. The council decided to rev iew the
bids and area trucks of a similar make. Several council members !'ell that the
unit requested by the Police and Fire Commi ss ion was of a larger capacity than
was necessary. Fire Chief Ca rl Engerson said that he had requested a unit capa-
ble of putting ou t 750 ga llon of water per min ute. The commiss ion recommen-
dation listed a 1,000 gallon unit. Mayor Bayorgeon asked Engerson if it were
true that a 1,000 ga llon un it could be used on no more than abou t 12 of the 123
fire hydrants in the city. Engerson replied that was about ri ght.
At the September 1952 council meeting, after a ''hot and heavy discussion"
members approved the purchase of a 1,000 gal Ion pumper truck for the Kaukau-
na f ire Department fro m Guslmans for $ 17.372 (Si 153,735 today). The unit was
manufac tured by the Four Wheel Dri ve Corporation orClin tonville.
In 1958 Fire Chief Haupt had a new safety device erected between lhc exi t
at the fire department and am bu lance garage across Main A venue.
Persons driving clO\vn the Lawe Street bridge or from the power canal

127
bridge in the opposite direction, who saw the flashin g amber light , accompanied
by the sound of a siren, were req uested to come to a halt, pu lling off to the side
if possible and wail until the trucks or ambulance came out or the light stopped
flashing. Before the erection of the signal light the firemen or police officer had
to run out into the street to halt traffic until the trucks or the ambulance were
cleared .
In 1958 the old sleeping quarters for the firemen were removed from the
rear of the engine room. Earlier the complete living quarters for the firemen
were moved into the room forme rly occupied by the indoor swimming pool in
the basement of the munici pal building. T he old sleeping quarters for the fi re-
men were located on a balcony-like structure at the west end of the room where
the fire engines were kept. The removal of the old sleeping quarters provided
space in the engine room for the new pumper, which was delivered at the end of
March. The two newest pumpers \vere located alon g the south wa ll of the en-
gine room , while the ladder truck and the old pumper were along the north wall
near the cubicle where the city ambulance was kept.
The old swimming pool was capped the previous fa ll and the stcel-
reinforced concrete Ooor was covered with asphalt ti ling to complete the east
room. Next, plumbing fixtures were installed for the firemen' s sink and cup-
boards which were placed at the southwest corner of the room. A doo1way was
installed on the west wall of the new li ving quarters to give the firemen easy
access to the lawn at the rear of the nwnicipal build ing. New fluorescent light-
ing fixtures were installed on the ceiling and the entire room was given a couple
of coats of paint.
The fina l insta ll ations, consisting of low partitions for six sleeping cubi -
cles. were installed. Each of the small rooms accommodated two beds and a pair
of lockers to hold the firemen's personal effects. Adjacent to the engine room,
the wall between the old hose tower and a storage room was removed and that
enlarged room served as the fire chiers office. Th ree telephones vvere installed
al the rear of the new living quarters. one of which \\'as fo r non-emergency ca lls
to the fire house. one for fire calls and the third was an extension to the police
depa11ment telephone. The firemen were called upon to answer the police de-
paitment telephone when the po lice were out on ca ll s.
Retired Fire Ch ief Tom Roberts started in 1956. He recall s that "my bed
was next to the old swimming pool. Everything was closely packed. small
rooms. We ate very well. We had venison, tu rt.le soup, and rabbit. Firefighters
cooked it all. The only job I refused to do was taking cats out of trees. The big-
gest parade ever held in Kaukauna was the Bicentennial parade which I was in
charge of. There were over 800 Ooat entries, including the fire department
trucks."
Throughout the 50s the Kaukauna Fi re Department continued to periodi-
cally monitor fire drills at all the schools. During fire prevention week school
children were shown life-saving equipment such as inhalators and gas masks.
Firefighters explained how standard firefighting equipment including smal l ex-
tinguishers help in combating blazes.
128
When reporting a lire, Chi er I laupL stressed reporting the correct address
and also the type o f building on lire so that the firem en could determine imme-
diately how much equipment and what type of equipment would be needed.
Annual ly Haupt covered the sa me fire safety tips covered by prev ious lire
chiefs.
When Carl Engerson became lire chief. he issued reminders to Kaukauna
residents that it was unlaw l'ul to follow fire engines en route to an emergency
call and that motorists could not park within a block of the scene of a lire un less
they had an official reason for being presenl. Cars parked in certain places near
the scenes of Ii res could make the work of unreeling tire hoses and changing the
position or the lire trucks and pumpers doubly difficul t for the fire fi ghters.

Kaukauna·s Firemen served as pall bearers Monday morni ng at the


funeral serv ice for forme r fire chief Owen Roberts. Pictured as they
entered the Holy Cross Cemetery. where burial took pl ace was lert Lo
right, Assistant Fire Chief and Inspector Theodore Smits, Fire Chi ef
William I laupl, Assistant Fire Chief Clarence Wolf, Stanley Kramer.
Thomas Roberts and Wi lbert Kobussen. Partially hidden behind Kobus-
scn is fune ral director, George Greem.vood. 1958
Walking behind is Robert Roberts Sr. (Owen's son) with his two grand-
children. Tht: woman is Elaine Kruse. The tall guy is her husband, I lank
Kruse. T he young guy on the left in back is Robett Roberts Jr.

Photo courtesy of Ly le Hansen

129
Date U ' K

Photo courtesy of Lyle


Hansen

Major Fires 1950 -1959


1. Avenue Bar and P echman tudio on the nort heast corner of Main A ve-
nue a nd Second Street
On January 12. 1950. an early morning fi re again threatened to destroy the
brick Central Bl ock bui lding. The bui lding was previously severely damaged
by fire on March 24, 1937.
The blaze started in and completely gu tted the Avenue Bar, operated by
John Blaha, at the north end or the build ing on Main Avenue adjacent to the
alleyway. It spread to the adjoining photograph studio of F. J. Peehman at 114
Main Aven ue. The studio was badly damaged by the names, smoke and water.
The greatest damage was to the photograph negati ves fi led fro m the previous 12
years. The tire alarm was recei ved a l police headquarters at about 5:45 a.m. by
Patrolman Lester Lued ke. An unidentified ·'railroad man" first gave the alarm
according to the pol ice. Charles Jenncr:jahn, a high school janitor, said he de-
tected the odor of smoke as he passed the bu ilding at about 5:30 a. m. heading to
the ideal Cafe fo r breakfasl. The tire department arrived before he could give
the alarm.
East Second Street was closed lo traffic by the city poli ce while the fire
hose was stretched across Second Street from the bank corner. Another hose
was stretched from the Mayer Drug Store corner at Crooks A venue across Sec-
ond Street around the rear or the Kaukau na Hardware Store and through the
alleyway to the burn ing bui lding at Main Avenue.
T he fire started under the !looring or the ta vern, near the front end and op-
posite to the bar. The old mahogany bar lop was totally consumed. Chief
Engerson was in doubt as to how the bla7.c started and said a smoldering ciga-
rette might have been the cause . .John Blaha, proprieror of the A venue Bar, be-
lieved that defecti ve electric wiring probably was the cause. A hole some four
or fi ve feet in diameter was burned through the fl ooring.
Evidently the blaze had a good headway before it burst through one of the
front Ma in Avenue wi ndows, which provided the necessary draft to spread the
flames whi ch spread through the ba r room destroying practi call y everything in
130
its path. The back bar, bar and liquors, sh uffleboard, stools and other contents
were destroyed. Work on rebuilding and renovating the damaged Central Block
build ing began as soon as possible after the fire debris was removed and
cleaned up.

2. Egan Yacht Club 1450 Augustine Street


Egan ·s Yacht and Gun Club (located where the Marina Bar is located) was
complete ly destroyed by lire on February 6, 1951. The total damage to the
building and contents was estimated at approximately S35,000 (S333.333 today)
according to Charles Egan, one or three brothers who owned and operated the
club.
The fire was reported at 6:45 a.m. by a Thilmany employee who saw the
blaze when going to work. The fire department immediately responded but the
roof and floo r were al ready burnt through when the firemen arrived. According
10 the tire department, the tire had probably burned an hour or two before it was
reported. Kaukauna liremen \.Vere soon joined by the Wrightstown Volunteer
Fire Department. but efforts to stop the blaze were futile. The building was lo-
cated in the town ol" Kauka una and there were no fire hydrants available. Fire-
men were limited lo the use of tanks of water on the trucks which had to be re-
fi lled several times al a hydran t on I lighway 96. The Kaukauna firemen stayed
at the scene fo r fo ur hou rs but finally left after nothi ng but a few smo ldering
j oi sis rernai ned. The club was not rebui1t.
The club had been opened Monday evening until midnight and the on ly
fire left in the bui lding was an oi l burner which might have clogged up and ex-
ploded. according lo Fire Chid' Carl Engerson. The building was onl y 18-
months-old and had al l new wiring so authorities discounted the possibility that
an electrical short caused the blaze.
In addition to the complete destruction of the building, bar, furniture, ten
runabout boats, ex pensive deer ri Iles. other guns, ammunition, an outboard mo-
tor, clay pigeons, ::t boat trailer and other equipment were destroyed. A metal
cash box was recovered wi th the money melted wgether and the bills burnt to
ashes. According to Engerson, federa l government authorities would replace the
money after checking the ashes and molten fou nd in the box .
Charles. James, and Wi lli am Egan opened the club and recreation fac ili ties
in 1949 and operated it in partnershi p. According to the owners, most of the
loss was covered by insurance. In the brief lime that the club had been in ex ist-
ence, it had attained a prominent place in the boating world with boat races that
brought speedsters, fans, and spectators from all over Wisconsin as well as from
out of state . In addition to the boating fac ilities provided at the club; rifle, pis-
tol. and archery ranges were ava ilable on the 13 acre track for sport enthusiasts.

131
3. George Gerard's Two-C:lr Garage on 231 J efferson St.
A fire swept th rough a two-car garage al the home of George Gerard at 5
p.m. Friday. February 9, 1951. resulting in almost total loss to the bui lding and
miscell aneo us equipment and damage to a 1950 automobile.
The Kaukauna Fire DepnrLment arri ved in Lime to check the spread or the
fire to the house. The garage was already enve loped in flam es and fireme n
could do little to sa\'e it. The cause or the lire was not known.
Mr. Gerard's son had taken his own car out ol' the garage before the lire
\vas discovered by ne ighbors who in turn notified Lhc Gerard 's that there \vas a
lire in the garage. Mrs. Gerard had trouble getting her call through to the fire
department due to a four-party line. This caused a delay in reporting the fire
1,.vhich had a good start by the time the firemen arrived.
There were about 300 burlap bags sto red above the cars in the garage
\\·hich helped to spread flames rapidly through the bu ilding. Stored in the gar-
age were screens and screen doors. an electric table Sa\\'. two tires. L\\'O ladders.
belting. garden hose. a lawn sprinkler. comp lete set of garden tools and other
equipment. Es timated loss was $2.000 ($1 7,699 today). Insurance covered
$450 ($4.054 today).

4. Combined Locks Paper Company in Co mbin ed Locks, W I


On March 6, 1951. lire ca used an estimated $33,000 ($3 14.286 today)
damage LO the largest paper machine at the Combined Locks Paper Company.
A spokesman for the company stated that the 176 inch No. 5 paper ma-
chine would take severa l days Lo repair. The blaze was discovered at 5: 15 a.m.
shortly after it started. The Combined Locks Volunteer Fire Department, the
mill fire brigade and the Kaukauna Fire Department were all at the scene a short
time later. With the three groups collaborating. the fire was under control with-
in 30 minutes.
The fire started in the west end or the drier se<.;Lion of the large mach ine.
Screens. rolls and journal boxes on the machine were badly damaged by both
fire and water. In addition to the damage sustained by the paper mach ine itself,
one of the ventilators above the machine was completely destroyed and two oth-
ers badly damaged. The fans and motors in the venti lators were also damaged.
While the fire was going on, an automatic sprinkler system went off, causing
damage to 150 tons or paper on the machine room noor. Smoke also damaged
most of the paper stock whi ch was stored in the sa me room as the No. 5 ma-
chine.
The machine produced classified paper which was used in the printing of
telephone books and catalogs. Six men were working on the machine at the
time of the fi re. Wil li am Van Da len \.Vas the machine tender. Combined Locks
Mill had five machines of this type. The other four were forc ed to shut down
because of the smoke. The workers all pitched in to help fight the blaze. This
same machine burned down about 10 or 12 years earlicr.

132
5. John Schmidt's Barn Route 5
Fire, believed to have been causL:d by spontaneous combustion, total ly de-
stroyed a barn on a farm owned by .John Schmidt and opera ted by his sons,
Richard and Clifford Schmidt, on Sunday night, August 5, 1951. Jerome
Schmidt, a cous in of the owners, who lived a quarter or a mi le from the Schmidt
farm. discovered the tire and notified the Kaukauna Fire Department. The dam-
age was estimated at $30.000 ($265.487 today) with 10 calves. a yearling heifer
and a bull lost in the blaze.
Two large tank trucks used for hauling milk. and neigh boring farmers us-
ing milk cans. hauled water for the fo ur fi re departments fighting the fire
throughout the night. Fire departments from the Towns or· Kaukauna, Buchanan
and Harrison No. I and No. 2. answered the cal l and remained until the danger
was over. The Harri son No. I Department stayed at the fire until 6:30 a.111.
Monday.
The firemen succeeded in saving the house, a large machine shed. a hog
pen and chicken coop, even though the wind from the southeast fanned the
fla mes sending sparks towa rd the bui ldings.
The blaze attracted peop le !'or miles arou nd and the heavy traffic hindered
the firefigh ting. Members of the o. 2 Fire Department or the Town of Harrison
complained that they had trouble getting through the trartic. The Kaukauna
Police Department notified the county sherif'rs of'fice who in turn radioed an
alert to the Chi lton officials. Ca lumet Cou nty Traflic Police1n an Irv in Vice
went to the fire scene but had to ca ll fo r additiona l help when traffic pi led up on
County Line Road and Old Mili tary Road . Outagamie County Policeman .John
Bandy arrived at the scene and assisted Pol iceman Vice in keeping the road
clear to facilitate the movement of the trucks hauling water to the tire.
Officials estimated that several thousand cars were attracted by the fire
which was visible for several miles. Many of the cars traveled through the sec-
tion several times to view the blaze when they were not perm ii.led to park on the
roadside.
T he large 126 reel by I06 feet barn was too fa r gone to be saved. Firemen
concentrated their efforts on saving the rema ining bu ildings.
The Schmidts had begun threshing operations on Saturday and a threshing
machine parked in the driveway near the barn was destroyed. In addition an
estimated 200 tons of hay were also lost in the fire. Rain later in the night
helped put out burning embers blown around by the wind . The barn loss was
partially covered by insurance.

6. Hotel Kaukaun a on the northeast co rn er of Wiscon sin Avenue and Lawe


Street
A fire destroyed one of Kaukauna 's oldest landmarks, the Hotel Kaukauna.
Bil lows of smoke poured from the three-story structure as ri re gutted the bui Id-
ing. Damage was estimated al $75,000 (62 1,544 today), according to Kaukauna
Fire Chief Carl Engerson.
Cause of the fire was unknO\\ n but oflicials believe that il started in the
133
attic or the hotel , in the vicinity or the chi1rn1ey.
On Saturday, November 3, 1951 , at 11 a.m. Elmer Grl!be, who lived on
Tobacnoir Street turned in an alann after seeing smoke pouring from the hotel.
The fire broke out onto the roor and spread rapidly as driving winds and the
ne\vly tarred rool' sent the fl ames raging out of control. The Ka ukauna ti re, po-
lice and electric departments quickly organized to right the lire, rou te the traffic
around the area of the fire and cut off the electrical current. One of Appleton·s
largest engines with a five-man crew and two pumpers manned by the fire fight -
ers from Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company responded to assist Kaukauna fire-
men. The liremen fought in the belching smoke and swirling snow to prevent
the names from spreading to the Rialto Theater next door and Gustman 's Gar-
age. Hund reds or spectators began to crowd the streets by the hotel.
During the lirst half hour firemen fo ught a smoke-shrouded battle aga inst
wind-driven llames and occupants raced against time to try and save some of
their belongings. Margaret Kappel!, a hotel maid. Stephen Shea, the bartender,
and Dominic Kl onowski, a government lock worker, began Lo pound on doors
to awake the res idents.
Elizabeth Kramer had just come up from the basement where she was do-
ing her laundry and noticed smoke in her bedroom on the third lloor. She didn't
think anything or it unt il someone rapped on the door and told her to leave. Her
sister. Barbara. was at the beaury parlor and upon hearing or the fire went back
to the hotel and tri ed to get up to her room but was unable 10 sa\·e anything.
The leaping !lames afforded guests little time to save any belongings. Se,·eral
of the homeless guests went to Appleton holels. but a large number round
rooms in private homes in Kaukauna.
By 12:30 p.m. the third fl oor had collapsed and by I p.m. the fire had par-
tially eaten away the second noor. Appleton and Th ilmany crews left around 2
p.m. Kaukauna fireme n stayed on the scene unti I 7 a.m. Sunday attempting to
extinguish the smoldering ruins.
The Appleton Post-Crescent office, housed on the first floor of the hotel,
"vas relocated to the Bank of Kaukauna on the second noor. The Gay Nineties
Bar escaped al I but ce iling and water damage. The bar lost its liquor stock, but
managed lo save the juke box and shuffleboard game. Manager Hilgenberg
received permission to re-open the bar as soon as the estimated $8.000 ($72.072
today) in repairs were completed. The basement porti on of the building housing
the Rem inder Prin ling Company and Bra ndt Barbershop clidn'l receive fire
damage. but water flooded the area. Clifford Brandt estimated his damage at
S 1.500 (S 13.51-l 1oday) and relocated at 201 West Wiscons in Avenue. Ray-
mond Morgan, proprietor of the Reminder. estimated his loss ac $7,300
($65,766 today). He stated that he would continue Lo publi sh fro m hi s home,
but wasn't sure how long he would remain in business.
The dining room was completely destroyed in the fire. Mr. and Mrs. Ray-
mond Gottschalk , who operated the dining room, decided not to return to the
restaurant business and movecl Lo Applet.on.
Two days alkr the fire the state tire inspector reported that the hotel would
134
not have to lose its trademark, the redbrick walls. As a tribute to the construc-
tio n job done in 1894, the wa lls withstood the ravages of the fire.
Owner Thomas Mislinski stated that he wou ld erect a modern new two
story hotel with approximately I7 rooms on the second floor and office space
on the first floor. The new hotel would be open strictly fo r transient trade and
wou ld not house permanent guests. Two building permits were grant.eel to
Thomas Mis li nski. One permit in the amount of $2,000 was granted to cover
the wrecking and removal of the thi rd lloor and another in the amount 01"$8 ,000
was granted for the construction of a roo l' and necessary repairs to the bar room.
Foxgrovcr and Schetlebein, Kaukauna contractors, were hired for the disman-
tling and remodeling operation. Work on the buil ding began within a lew clays
fo ll owing the fire and included repairs lo the barroom , the installation or a tem-
porary roof' ove r that portion of the building and the installation of a new ceil-
111g.
The many social clubs and lodges which held their meetings at the hotel
were forced Lo find another meeting place.
T he hotel was bui lt by Captain Da vid J. Brothers. Mr. Brothers was born
in Canada in 1838. He received his early education in New York and made his
first trip to Kaukauna when he was 16. Shortly after his marriage in 1862 lo
Amanda Lawe, he joined the union fo r<..:cs in the civil war and was a member of
the fo rces or General William T. Sherman on his famous march to the sea. Af-
ter the war, he returned to Ka ukau na and engaged in various lines of business.
erecting the Hotel Brothers in 1894 at a cost of $30.000 ($8 10,811 today). Cap-
tain Brothers died in 1904 at the age of 66.
The hotel was sold numerous times and was renamed Hotel La Salle in
1906, Hotel Congress in 1925 and Hotel Ka ukauna in 1929 .

7. S & B Bowling Alley 136 W est 'W isco nsin Avenue


On November 5, 195 1, fire bel ieved to have originated in the air condition-
ing system or the S&B Bowling Alleys ca used an estimated $25,000 ($22 1,259
today) damage. The second big fire in Kaukauna in th ree days was discovered
at around 7:45 p. m. as the night's bowling Hcti vities were about to begin.
Mrs. Ali ce Schell. one of the partners in the establ ishment. stated that
smoke was noticed at first but it was though t that it was a result of the rurnacc
just having been fired up. The firefi gh ters confined the damage lo the barroom,
storeroom and bow ling alley storeroom. The water was removed fro m the al-
leys as soon as it was possible and a dryer was emp loyed on them all night in
hopes or drying the alleys out to prevent their warping.
Joseph Bayorgeon, part owner, stated that the repairs to the building would
include a new ceiling, heating-ventilation system, and some new brac ing for the
ceil ing. Workmen worked around the clock lo make the repairs.
Seven yea rs earl ier, a lire at the same location on Wisconsin /\venue de-
stroyed the Andersen Service hardware and Schell 's Alleys. The S&B Bowling
Alleys had been reconditioned the past summer in 1951. The bowling alley had

135
opened fo r the season·s bowling on the second week in September.
The loss was covered by insurance. The Kaukauna Fire Department extin-
gui shed the fire by about 9: J 5 p.111. One truck and severa l men remained at the
scene or the fire until the next morning to prevent a rec unence of the blaze.
Repairs were made and leagues resumed bow ling one week later.

8. Rebuilt Portion of H otel Kaukau na and Gay Nin eties Bar Northeast
Corner of Wisconsin & Lawe Streets
/\Iler the re-opening of the barroom, workmen began the task of tea ring
clown lhe hotel wa lls and cleaning out the debris left by fa lling plaster and Lim-
bers. The intent was to use as much or lhc old rnaleria ls as possibl e. The new
hotel would take on a square effect 'vilh a flat roof covering the entire structure.
The entrance would again face Wisconsin Avenue. Work proceeded on the new
building until the night of June 17. 1952. when for the second time in 7 months.
fire ravaged the Hotel Kaukauna. Police Se rgeant Robe11 Mai n and Officer Earl
Yerbcten discovered the fire about 2:00 a.m. The fire destroyed the Gay Nine-
ties Bar which had suffe red the least damage in the previous November fire.
The fire. which was believed to have started in 1he basement of the bui ld-
ing just below the bar, caused the collapse of the first floor. Flames broke
through into the room adjoining the bar. Fire Chief Engerson repo11ed that sev-
era l or the firemen were temporarily trapped in the basement of the building
when the fl oo r gave way and had to be rescued. Two tire trucks responded lo
the scene and the blaze was broughL under contro l by 4 p.m. One truck re-
ma ined al the scene of the fire until 7 a.m. the nex t morning. The department
made two additional calls to the bui lding to extinguish smoldering debris.
The cause of the fire was listed as undetem1incd and damage was estima1cd
at $7.500. (566,372 today) 1 ewly installed portions of ceilings were burned
out and that which was not burned received \\'ater damage. The building was
torn clown. The l lotel Kaukauna was compl etely lorn down and debri s removed
from the land. Thomas Mislinski dec ided not to rebuild and the land was sold.
The Hotel Kaukauna Fi rst Note mortgage holders were never paid. Today a
fi lling station stands on the land of the fo rmer majest ic I lotel Kaukauna.

9. Th ilm any Pulp ~ind Paper Mill Coal Co nveyo1· Belt on Thilmany Roml
On December 1 I, 1952, a fire which threatened to cause a shutdown or the
entire lower mil l burned for over two hours in the Thi lmany Pulp and Puper
Company coa l conveyor shaft. The conveyor fed coal from the company·s coa l
piles to the lower mil l. The blaze was discovered shortly before 1:30 a.m. when
\\'Orkers saw flames coming from some of the com·cyor shaft windows. Much
of the middle scc1ion of a series of three com·eyor belts were badly damaged by
the blaze. The tower foreman called the fire depanment. Damage was estimat-
ed at $ 10,000 ($86,207 today).
Repairmen worked swiftly throughout the day in an attempt Lo complete
emergency repairs in time to keep the mill's coa l consumption from being inter-
rupted.
136
Mill authorities atlribute lhe fire to ignition by hot coa ls from a coal stor-
age pile fire that had been smoldering in the yard for lhe past two weeks. The
coal storage pi le fire had been kept under control and was being shifted about to
minimize damage to the coal. The earlier fire had apparently been caused by
spontaneous combustion. The bui lding around the conveyor, the rollers and
bearings. and much of the electrical wiring contained within that section of the
building was badly damaged. Numerous explosions along the conveyor blasted
siding away from the building and damaged much of the internal structure.
Electric motors at the foot of the 1,000-foot-long conveyor system were also
knocked out.
Kaukauna firemen aided company firemen crews and volunteers for 2- 1/2
hours. Sixteen 50-foot lengths of hose were used by the Kaukauna dcpa1tmenl
in fi ghting the blaze in the system, which was about I00 feet above the ground .
Some firemen climbed to the roof of the lower mi ll on the permanent metal lad-
ders and worked downward while another group erected ladders near the foot of
the conveyor and entered through the windows. Between I 25 and 150 feet of
the interior of the tower was badly damaged.

10. Va nevenhoven' s Ga mble Store 150 West Wisconsin Avenue


On February 17, 1953, the Gamble Store was destroyed by fire. Fire started
in the basement of the building and probably had a two-hour start before it was
discovered. Robert Yanevenhovcn, owner of the bui lding and store, theorized
that perhaps some car radiator alcohol had leaked from its conta iner and was
ignited by a battery charger nearby.
When the Kaukauna Fire Department arrived, the windows were already
blackened. Shori ly after, the front of the building blew in and firemen turned
the hoses di rectly into the building. Nothing was saved. The Appleton Fire De-
partment and Thi lmany Pulp and Paper Company Fire Department were called
to assist.
The William Lami ne famil y, who res ided above the Quality Food Market
was evacuated from their apart ment by the firemen. Smoke made il impossible
for the family to leave by the sta irway and they were led over the roof and down
the back of the building by firem en. The Quality Food Market had some smoke
and water damage.
The Service Hardware Company next door sustained some smoke and wa-
ter damage.
The free zing temperatures turned the water pouring fro m the building
down the length of Wisconsin Avenue into sl ush and ice. The Wisconsin Ave-
nue and Lawe Street intersection were extremely hazardous. Firemen emerged
from the debris with their helmets covered with ice.
Witnesses at the fire praised the efforts of the Kaukauna firefighting crews,
the Appleton crew and the Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company crews.
Robert Yanevenhoven opened the Gamble Store July I, 1945 and did not
rebuild after the second fire.

137
11. Fox River Veneer Company Fire on West Second Street
The Fox River Veneer Company, one of Kaukauna' s main industries, was
completely destroyed by fire Tuesday morning, October 20, 1953. The building
was gutted and al l machinery in the plant was damaged beyond repair, accord-
ing to firemen who fo ught the persistent blaze for 3- l /2 hours. The blaze appar-
ently started in the second floor in the rear of the building in the dry ing depart-
ment at about 6: 15 a.m.
George DeWitt, who was on the night shift at the Veneer Company as a
stoker feeder, was about to leave after completing hi s shift and was talking with
his relief man, Tony Lappen, when they heard an ex plosion in the rear or the
building. By the time they rushed back to sec what had happened the entire rear
portion of the buil ding was in names. Lappen immediately reported the fire ,
but in the short time it took the fi remen to arrive at the scene, the blaze was
completely out of control.
Fire Chief Wi II iam Haupt stated that the fire was one of the most persistent
blazes Kaukauna had seen, adding that the initial explosion and the combusti ble
nature of the materi als used in the factory probably accounted fo r the difficu lty
in controlling it. In all, 3.500 feet of hose was spread by the eleven firemen
who were called to the scene.
The Fox River Veneer Company was owned by fou r brothers, Elmer. Ar-
min, Melvin and Leland Knoke and a brother-in- law Art Pahl , all of Appleton.
Pahl served as manager of the company. The company originally took over the
Second Street site in November 1936, according to Melvin Knoke. It was pur-
chased fro m Peter Renn. Prior to when the building was purchased a basket
factory and sausage veneer manufacturing company was located on the site.
The principal product manufactured by the Fox Ri ver Company was sca le
board which was used for storage of cheeses by dairy food manufacturers. Fif-
teen Kaukauna residents were employee! by the company.
Although the fire was confined to the veneer company's building, for a few
moments the Gust man warehouse on the west side of the plant seemed in imm i-
nent danger of being ignited. Heat from the fire was so intense that it was im-
possi ble to walk between the two bui ldings.
Two electric light poles behind the facto ry were severely scorched and
electricians were called at about 7:30 a.m. to remove some or the wires wh ich
were impeding the work of the firemen. According to Chief Haupt. it was for-
tunate that there was li ttle (if any) wind blowing Tuesday morn ing or the freight
depot of the C&NW railroad might have caught fire.
The fire department"s newly purchased 1,000 gallon pumper proved its
worth in the fire , according to Haupt. By using rhe pumper a pressure of 200
pounds was maintained throughout the blaze. With the use of the pumper the
firemen got more pressure by attaching the hose to the deluge set. A de luge set
is a piece of equ ipment to which nrn hoses are attached on either side combin-
ing the streams. The elevation of the stream of water was controlled by a hand
wheel attached to the rear of the set.

138
T he estimated loss was abom $30,000 ($256,4 10 today). The company
was not rebu ilt.

12. Fargo's Furniture S tore and Funer al Home on W est \ Visconsin Avenue
On January 22. 1954, one of Kaukauna 's oldest and largest business firms,
Fargo's Furniture Store and Funeral llome, was nearly destroyed by fire in the
early morning hours. An estimated $85.000 ($726.496 today) worth of damage
was clone Lo the building and stock.
Mrs. Dona ld Wenzel discovered the lire about 11 :50 p.m . as she was leav-
ing the S&B Bow ling Alley and she im mediate ly reentered the bowling alley
and called the firemen. /\t about the same time, Robert Heindel, who was
across the street rrom Fargo's, heard an explosion and saw fl ames coming fro m
the Fargo store. I li s car was parked in front or Fa rgo's and he said that at the
time or the exp losion he believed it was his car which had blown up. By the
time he \\'3S able to reach the fire station by telephone the trucks had an·ived at
the scene.
The blaze wa s beyond co ntrol when the firemen arrived . The explosion
which touched off the blaze was local ized in the basement furnace room of the
store but the exact origin was not kno\\'n. A stock or paint was stored near the
furn ace room. Six lead hoses.totaling 3,300 feet were used by all the members
of the Kau kauna Fire Department and severa l vo lunteers in fi ghting the blaze
which look nine hou rs to extinguish. The firemen managed Lo contain the tire
in the runera l home pottion of the building. The body of Frank Wokjenski,
whose runeral was held al 9 a.m. Saturday mo rn ing, was removed from the fu-
nera l home section to the home of L. A. Gercncl.
B. W. Fa rgo, the other owner, said that the en tire stock of furniture in the
store was damaged by smoke. water and fall ing plaster. The second floor of the
building was in the fire chiers words, "baked"' but not actually burned. The
dense smoke and sub-zero weather made fighting th<.: blaze di fficu lt. The stai r-
way leading lo the basement was complete ly filled with smoke that despite the
use of gas masks and portable oxygen canks the firemen \\·ere unable to reach
the lower ll oor. The extreme cold caused some of' the va lves on the breathing
air tanks lo freeze. which added considerably to the department's difficulties.
The use of foam by the fire department helped to prevent the spread of the
tire or a possible explosion when some of the oil from the two 275-gallon stor-
age drums 01· fu el in Lhe basement began burning. Smoke and '..vater damage
was reported by the Runte Department Store east or Fa rgo's with severe wa ter
damage lo the stock stored in the basement. The liremen saved the building
from the fl ames by spraying streams of wa ler on the roof.
T he recently built Fargo office building, to the west of the fu rni ture store
occupied by the Wisconsin Bel l Telephone Company, was untouched by the
blaze.
By 5 a.m. the liremen believed that they had the fire out. and leaving a
couple or men on duty. returned to the fire station. At 6:20 a. m. they were
cal led back to the scene when some of the smo ldering ashes burst into flame.
139
A number of residents in the area of Fargo's volunteered their services in
fig hting the blaze and a number of pri vate home owners as well as Toonen 's
Drug Store provided hot coffee for the emergency crews on duty.
Fargo' s established an office on the second floor above Toonen's Drug
Store. Future funeral services handled by Fargo's were conducted from the L.
A. Gerend home at 31 2 Catheri ne Street.

13. Nitingale Ballroom on Hig hway 96 near McCarty's C rossin g northeast


of Ka ukauna
Fire of undetennined origin Wednesday morning completely destroyed the
itingalc Ballroom on November I0, 1954.
Estimated loss suffered in the blaze which leveled the structure , and de-
stroyed all the furn ishings and supplies, was set at $75.000 (S64 I,026 today).
The lire alarm was placed from Jerry" s Motel located at County J and
Highway 41 around 5 a.m. aner a truck driver noticed the fire while dri ving to
Kau kauna. He reported it to Gerald Seggeli nk, proprietor of the motel.
T he f'ire got a good slart before the alarm 1,vas turned in and was complete-
ly out ol' control by the time the Kaukauna firemen arrived on the scene. The
entire rear portion of the building was a mass of flames within minutes of the
arrival of the fire department. The firemen could not enter the building to save
any or the furnish ings. There were no hydrant outl ets in the vicini ty of the
building. Town of Kaukauna firemen and Buchanan firemen helped pumping
operations whi le the Wrightstown lire1ncn stood by in case additional help was
needed. When it became apparent that the building could not be saved. the fire-
men concentrated on conta ining the blaze so that it wouldn't sweep across the
open fi elds adjoining the Nitingalc property. The Kaukau na firemen were on
duly al the scene of the blaze for 3- 1/2 hou rs.
Sylvester ''Cooney'' Es ler. owner and manager of the Nitingale, sa id that a
musician 's union dance was held on Tuesday night and that when he left the
prem ises at about 2 a.m. Wednesday the building appeared to be secure. He
said that the first word that he rece ived concerning the fire was about 5 a.m.
when a fri end notified him of the blaze. When asked whether he intended to
rebuild. Es ler said that he wasn 't sure. but indicated he might put up another
ballroom.
The Nitingale, which was bui lt by Esler in 1928. had become an institution
in the Fox Valley area for 26 years provid ing residents and touri sts with top
name brands lor dancing. The Nitinga le was the on ly ballroom in Wisconsin
that had Glen Miller as an attraction. The ba llroom had featured more big name
bands, the musical notables ranging from Wayne King to Louis Armstrong.
The biggest evening for the ba llroom came about three years earlier when Sam-
my Kaye and his orchestra appeared CH the itinga le. Semi-pri vate wedding
dances as we ll as public affa irs were held at the popular dancing spot.
In the late I920s and early 1930s. when street cars were the principal types
of intercity transportation . the street cars used to bring patrons from Green Bay.
Appleton and the entire Fox Valley area lo the Nitingale.
140
A regular stop for Lhe street cars was at McCarty's crossing, near Lhe Out-
0-Town Club. about a bloc k from Lhe Nitingale. The Nitinga lc was not rebuilt.

14. Gonion Clothing Store on the north side of Second Sfrect


On February 2 1, 1956. a fire. thought to have originated nea r an exposed
chimney toward the rear exit on the main floor of the Gordon Clothing store.
destroyed the store and the upstairs apartment occupied by the Clarence Zuehl
fa mil y. The estimated damage from the blaze, including some smoke and water
damage to the adjoining Krueger Furniture Store and the DeWill Shoe Store,
was tentatively set at S30,000 ($252, J 0 I today).
The fire was discovered about 15 minutes after Gordon Redenz, owner of
the clothing store, had left for the evening. All members or the family, includ-
ing Mr. and Mrs. Zuehl and four children escaped from the upsta irs without in-
jury, but lost all or thei r personal effects. They were housed temporarily at
apartments in the immediate vicinity. When the fire department reached the
scene the fire was completely out of control.
The pol ice squad car followed the three fire trucks to the blaze and blocked
traffic at the intersection of Main and Second Street to give the firemen free
reign in combat ing the blaze. At about 9 p. m. the Kaukauna Street Department
was called to erect barricades across Second Street's outlet onto Main A venue.
By 6 p.111 . smoke was billowing off the roof and through the crevice in the
front on the second fl oor of the building. Flames leaped high into the air.
threatening the two adjoining businesses. The ladder truck was stationed on
Second Street in the front of the store and the two fire department pumpers were
joined in the rear, the older machine being kept there on standby duty in case
the names spread. As late as 8 p.rn. the flames appeared to be under control
only to have it spring up agai n. Two streams of water were directed on the front
of the building until the fire department brought out its deluge set, and directed
two streams or water into one extra powerful blast. In addition several small
auxi liary hoses wen.: used. The big fire department pumper at the rear of the
building discharged water at its full capacity throughout the lire.
The big billows of smoke made it bard to see the sou rce of the lire and
reach the areas which appeared to be burning. Shortly after 6:30 p.m. two fire-
men wearing gas masks went into the upstairs apartment from the rear stairway
in an effort to fight the fire at close range, but they were fo rced to abandon their
efforts because of the extreme heat. Firemen on the Second Street side or the
store propped ladders against the front of the store and poured water into the
upstairs apartment and onto the roof.
All that was saved was the cash register and records stored in a portion of
the building that was not damaged. The clothes store manager stated that he
expected to reopen business in another location as soon as adjustments were
made for his loss.
Krueger Furniture Store and De Witt Shoe Store suffered smoke damage.

141
15. Badger T issue M ill War ehouse on Island Street next to the Power Plant
On March 20, 1956, damage estimated at $12,000 ($ 100,840 today) result-
ed in the early evening fire in a warehouse of the Badger Tissue Mills. The
building was a one-story frame warehouse located in the ruins of a former ware-
house which was destroyed by fire in the l 890's. Bales of broke. paper cores
and seconds of paper toweling and tissue were destroyed from the blaze thought
to have originated from faul ty wiring.
The fire department was summoned around 6:45 p.111. after workmen went
into the storage area to get paper cores and found the building ful l of smoke.
Firemen bel ieved that the blaze had a good start before it was noticed. Both
trucks were called to the scene but one returned to the fire house around 8:3 0
p.m. while the other truck and some of the firemen stood by unti l about 4 a.m.
to guard against the blaze breaking out again. Afte r 9:30 p.m. the firemen were
able to go into the warehouse and remove smoldering paper. The street crews
also assisted the firemen in remov ing the broke from the warehouse.
The blaze was confined to the warehouse and no damage was reported to
the production departments of the mi ll although some of the smoke drifted into
the fac tory . The police departmen t rerouted traffic from the Wi sconsin Avenue
Bridge down Oak Street to Main Avenue and then to the south side si nce hoses
were laid across island and Elm Street. The fire was extinguished by 4 hydrant
streams as well as from the booster. The firemen used 300 feet of 1-1 /2 inch
hose and 1,000 feet of 2-1 /2 inch hose.

16. Leo Siebe1·s Home at 917 Boyd Aven ue


Over $4,500 ($37 ,815 today) worth of damage resulted on September 25,
1956, from a fire which broke out on the roof and in the attic of the Leo Siebers
residence at about l 0 p.m., according to a fire department report. The probab le
cause or the fire according to Chi ef William Haupt was a faulty furnace or
chimney.
The alarm was turned in by Siebers, who was on the main floor of the
home and heard what he thought was a scratching sound coming from the attic
portion of the home. When he went upstairs to investigate he discovered most
of the attic in flames. By the time the fire trucks were able to get to the scene
brigh t names were around the chimney and coming from the rear portion of the
home and several large holes were easi ly visible after the fire was brought under
control at about 1 l :30 p.m.
Most of the home furnishin gs were protected from the streams of water
used by the firemen, since the men were able to get into the house and cover
most of them with tarpaulins before a great deal of water could soak through to
the main fl oor. The loss from the fire, smoke and water was partially covered
by insurance.

142
17. Floyd Weycnberg's Home - Six Children Die 1129 Harrison Str eet
T his was onl y the second time that he and his wife had gone to Mass to-
gether on Sunday morning, Floyd \.Veyenberg said after the tragic fire which
took the lives of their six chi ldren.
A pipe fitter's helper at T hilmany Pulp and Paper Company, Weyenberg
usually worked at least a part of Sunday morning, starting at 7 a. 111. It had been
his practice to attend the 5 o'clock Mass. Mrs. Weyenberg would attend the
I I :30 a.m. Mass after her husband returned from work. They decided to both
go to church early because he thought that on this day, December 24, 1958, his
work might take unti l noon. W hen they went to different Masses, Mrs. Weyen-
berg would drive her husband to church, leaving the children alone. If s he' d
have done that Sunday, it would have happened the same way, he rellectcd.
Weyenberg said he really d id not know it was thei r home that was aflame
when he and his wife approached their street at 5:45 a.m. Traffic had already
blocked the entrance to the street. They stopped their car at the comer and ran
toward the crowd. Only as he drew closer did he realize that it was his home.
Floyd tried to get into the house but fi remen restrained hi m. T hen he climbed a
ladder that had been placed aga inst the burning house by his uncle, who lived
next door, to the window of the rear upstairs bedrooms. Weyenberg entered the
smoke filled bedroom where a fi reman ·was searching for the children. T he fire-
men to ld hi m to get out and Weyenberg went next door to the home of his un-
cle, Wi lliam Weyenberg. Will iam told Weyenberg the bodies had been found.
Later in the day the Weyenbergs were at the home of Floyd 's parents al the
family's fa1m homestead at the end or Harrison Street. Many relatives were
there giving comfort as well as news reporters and persons assisting with fu ner-
al a1Tangements. Police kept the street blocked for most of the day as a stream
of cars drove toward the neighborhood.
The interior of the bathroom had not been touched by the fi re but it had
been blackened by smoke. The tremendous heat blis tered lhc woodwork and
paint throughout the house. The bui lt-ins in the large upstairs bedroom were
chaned. Much of the sn1dding in the house was burned beyond further use and
every room in the house bore marks of heat, smoke and fla mes.
Mrs. Weyenberg informed authorities that she had turned o n the lamp in
the li ving room Sunday morning before leaving the house to attend Mass with
her husband. According to Haupt, a spark from the lamp cord ignited the
drapes in the livi ng room and the fire spread from there . Authorities further
mentioned that although a fuse on the circui t had blown, a spark could s ti ll have
formed , touching off the blaze. Haupt stated that once the fire started it had
probably spread rapidly aided by the combustibles in the living room area in-
cluding the davenport and the wax on the flo or. Weyenberg had ename led the
kitchen on Saturday night and the fum es from the fres h paint may also have
been a fac tor in the rapid spread of the fire.
Chi ldren who died were Lynn (7), Douglas (6), Margaret (5), John (3),
Barbara (2-1/2), and M ichae l (1 - 112). The burned house was a farm house

143
owned by .I. Meulemans and moved from Sniderville in 1952. Weyenberg
bought it from him and built a basement and added a room two years previous.
The ci tizens responded with donations in clothing, cemetery lot. cash and
many other items.

18. Glashcen's Restaurant 107 East Second Street


On March 25. 1959. Glasheen 's Restaurant was destroyed by lire in an ear-
ly morning fire. Damage was estimated at S 15,000 ($120,968 today). The res-
taurant was run by Helen and Wi lliam Glasheen. /I.. A. Gustman owned the
bui!ding. Helen G lasheen le fl the restaurant at 3 a. m. Peter Rabideau noticed
the fire as he passed the building at 5:45 a.m. and reported the fire. The
Kaukauna Fire Department responded and used 400 reel of 2-1 /2 inch hose and
400 feet or 1- 1/2 inch hose lo fight the fi re. Two smoke ejectors ·were also
used.
The lire originated in the kitchen which was completely destroyed. Fire
Chief William Haupt placed the cause on fau lty wiring. White smoke rose from
the building over the city as the intense hea t ca used extensive damage. The sec-
ond story of the buildi ng was unoccupied and received smoke damage. Resi-
dems in adjacent buildings "·ere forced to evacuate due to the thick smoke.

Courtesy of Lyle Hansen

Glasheen Restau rant

144
Nitingale Ballroom before and afte r fire

Weyenberg I lome Photos cou11csy of L y le Hansen

145
I l otcl Kaukauna Fire

146
Hadger Tissue Vl i ll

Photos courtesy of Ly le Hansen

147
1960 - 1969 Decad e
During the I960's the Kaukauna Fire Department continued to issue safety
precautions. especially during Fire Prevention Weck. The fire department
scheduled visits al the area schools where firefighters demonstrated the different
facets o!' lircfighting gear and equipment. They exp lained the importance for
everyone to have an emergency plan with an alternate escape route out of every
room in their homes.
In 1969 The Kaukauna Fire Department held an open house at the fire sta-
tion to provide residents the opportu nity to learn how their tax dollars were
spent to provide protection to persons and property from the dangers of fire.
Firefighting equipment \.vas on display and personnel were on hand to ans,ver
questions. Firefighters started offering CPR and lirst aid classes to the public
and teachers.
No major lire equipment was purchased in the 60s except for a new ambu-
lance which is covered in the ambulance/paramedic chapter.
On August 20. 1969. Fire Chief Wi lli am Haupt reti red at 55 years of age.
He began as a substitute \\'ith the department in 193 7 and became a full -time
fireman in 1941. When Chief Hau pr started there \\'ere 11 members in the de-
partment compared to 19 when he retired. Firemen worked an 84-hour week
and now worked a 56-hour week with three shifts.
The Pol ice and Fire Commission approved the appointment of Ted Smits
as fire chief. Smits started with the department in 1942 and was appointed as-
sistant fire chief in December 1952. Wilbert (Koby) Kobussen was appointed
Assistant Fire Chief.
Duri ng the 1960s the fire department hired co lkg~ students for summer
help. The students replaced full-time lirefigh!ers who were on vacation. T his
kept each shi fl up to full staff. In November 1969 the lire department hired four
full -time firefi ghters and eliminated hiring student summer help .
.Jeny Kobussen. hired in 1969. talked about his memories of the Kaukauna
Fire Department. Kobussen sa id "Back in 1969. I was stationed at the fire de-
parlrnem located at the foot of the Lawe Street Bridge. Part of our living quar-
ters was in the apparatus room directly behind the lire trucks. There was an old
black and white TV which the firefi ghters had to buy. the city paid nothing.
Th is was always a problem as to what size and what to spend because each fire-
fighte r had lo chip in an equal amount.
We had a bathroom and showers, a storage room and a hose tower for
hanging and dry ing the lire hoses. This room was also used by the older fire-
fighters for hanging snapping turtles with their heads cut off to bleed out. The
turtles were caught out of the river by firefighter Mark Kilgas (Muskrat Mark),
fo r making turtl e soup. The public was always we lcome during thi s era to stop
in for some turtle soup.
The kitchen was located in the apparatus room. along with the sleeping
quarters. The fire chiefs office was located above the kitchen and bathroom.

148
When I started in 1969, the kitchen, dispatch center and sleeping areas
were located above the old swimming poo l which they put a cap over. This ar-
ea was remodeled just prior to my starti ng. The work was all done by the lire-
fighters - noors, walls, ceiling, etc. The sleeping rooms were all cubicles wi th
two beds each, except for the new rooki es who were placed in a tiny room that
bunk beds just fit in. Every wall was all brown panel ing," commented Kobus-
sen . ''When we moved into the old Badger Northland building in 1975. all re-
modeling was done by contractors. There were three shifts. Each shift had an
officer in charge of the shift and an assistant officer. The officers had their own
room for sleeping: the other firefigh ters on du ty slept in a larger room wi th mul-
tiple beds. usually no more than three or fou r men were sleeping in this room at
a time.
Usually every firefighter brought hi s own meals. We had rwo refri gera-
tors. Each person would chip in for smal ler "every day" items like salt. pepper.
ketchup. etc. On holidays we would have a large meal together, like turkey
with all the fi xings. Captain Stanley Dercks was one of the better cooks. This
guy could make anything and it was good. At limes he made heart and cow
tongue: this was quite different and not the usual. Firefighter Scott Robach al-
ways brought pheasants because he and his dad belonged to a game farm. I
usually brought veni son.
We were pretty much involved in most community events; we were in-
vo lved in all parades. One of the nicest things I remember was when Immanuel
Un ited Church of Christ on Sullivan Avenue invited the entire fire department
to pa11akc in one of their Sunday services. During the service they gave praise
and recogn ition for the service that each lircli ghter had done for the community
and awarded us with some type of token (don 't remember exactly what we re-
ceived). After service we were all invited for coffee and donuts in the church
cafeteri a."
Kobusscn continued "There were three shifts, A, Band C. Each firefighter
was assigned a cleaning duty before the start of each shift and this would
change after each three-day work cycle. Shi ft change was at 7:30 a.m. and
cleaning duties started at 8 a.m. Cleaning duties included bathroom, al l fl oors
(tile. carpel, etc .) in bedrooms and living room; ki tchen (stove, refrigerator, etc.)
and apparatus room floors. The captain in charge of the shift would assign each
firefighter, driver engineer and paramed ic a vehicle that he would be responsi-
ble for during a three-day work cycle. The vehicles involved were: the aerial
ladder truck. one of two fire engine pumpers. the ambulance, or the rescue vehi-
cle. rescue boat, etc .
Many. many stories and jokes were an ongoing thing at the fire depart-
ment. One example: Bruce Mathis quit the fire department and went on to join
the U.S. Olympic Boxing Organization. He stopped by the fire department one
time and my shift was on duty. He gave each firefi ghter a battery operated
alarm clock . The next night, after midnight these clock alarms seemed to go off
at different limes. This was vvhen the incoming shift was on duty and we went
home. T he clocks were hidden in lockers, in the ce iling and under beds.
149
Need less to say. that crew didn't get much sleep that ni ght Another example:
\Ve had an !. \/. line pushed into the ce iling ti le above Leo n Van Toll" s bunk. It
well! drip. drip. drip on his face - he moved his bunk and drip. drip. drip on the
fl oor next to his bunk until it was sawratcd. No sleep for him that night.'"

Major Fires 1960 - 1969


l. Nu- Way C leaners and W isconsin Ba r 127 W est Wisconsin Avenu e
One of the most spectacular fires to hit Kaukauna in the last I0 years de-
stroyed two business buildings and lcli eight persons home less on January 21,
1961. The businesses ,,·ere the Wisconsin Bar and the u-\Vay Cleaners. 121
and 127 West Wisconsin A venue. Residents of apartmen ts above the stores
escaped with on ly the clothing on their backs.
Additional damage was reported at the Star Appliance, 115 West Wiscon-
sin A ven ue. located across a na1rnw dri veway from the Wisconsin Bar. Mr. and
Mrs. August Wachel, owners or Nu-Way Cleaners and Mrs. Wachel's mother
Mrs. Dona ld Kenney, 73 , lived above the shop. Mr. and Mrs . .Jack Ar-
noldusscn, owners of the Wisconsi n Bar, lived behind the tavern. Mr. and Mrs.
Nico las Milbach. Sr. and their 7-year-o ld granddaughter, Pally lived above the
tavern. All were forced from thei r apartments. They lost all ol"their belongings
except the clothes they were wea ring.
When Mrs. \Vachel first became aware of the fire. she raced up the stair-
way to the apartment where Mrs. Donald Kenney li\'ed. When they discovered
that they could not get back down the stairs they crawled through a window at
the rear of the bui !ding to the roor where lhe tiremen rescued lhcm. Mrs. Ken-
ney was taken to the Kaukauna Commu nity Hospital for observation in the city
ambu lance .
T he I-ire department received the call at 4:30 p.m. vvhen .lack Arnoldussen,
owner o1' the building and opera tor of the Wisconsin Bar, ca lled to report a fire
in the basement of his building. according to Fire Chief William Haupt. At the
same time Patrolman Robert Main and several other people noticed smoke com-
ing i'rom the bui ldings and sounded the alarm. Shortly after, the two bui ldings
erupted in flames. Wache l closed the fire door leading to the bo iler room and
saved that stone portion of the structure.
Shortly after their arrival al the scene, Haupt called for the pumper fro m
the Th ilmany Pulp and Paper Company and for an App leton pumper. Thilmany
men responding with the truck were Chief Luther Grebe, Everette Bovee and
Earl Wallace. Appleton responded with a pumper manned by five men and two
add iti onal men who came in an auto.
In add iti on to the Thi lmany and Appleton equipment, Fire Chief Les Sand-
ers or Lillie Chute sent the vi llage's rescue trucks and portab le generator to light
the scene. Appleton Fire Chief Alben Arnold helped in directing the fire
fi ghting for hi s unit fo r a short time to fight the fire. Eight Kaukauna policemen
under the supervision of Chi e r Harold Engerson, along with county police

150
officer Cal Spice and Little Chute police, helped to control traffic in the vicinity
of the fire .
Kaukauna Electric and Water department manager William Ranquette re-
ported that 330,000 gallons of water were used in fighting the blaze. Chief
Haupt said that Kaukauna used 3,300 feet of 2-1 12 inch hose and l 00 feet of 2-
112 inch hose and 800 feet of 1-1/2 inch hose. The Appleton unit used 1,500
feet of 2- 1/2 inch hose and Thilmany used 1,500 feet of 2-1 /2 inch hose.
Kaukauna used about 40 feet of ladders in an attempt lo fight the fire from the
inside
When the water hit the side of the Star Appliance building it froze and
made a shield against the flames. The same thing happened on the roof where
the coating of ice became a protection.
A 13-mile per hour wind out of the west fanned the flames and if it had
been any stronger, the blaze might have been worse. Sparks and flaming pieces
of the structure were blown a fu ll block away from the scene of the tire.
Kaukauna firemen were on duty at the scene throughout the night and until
3 p.m. Sunday. For a time it was feared that the buildings west of the Wiscon-
sin Bar might burn and the c ritical building in the row down to Lawe Street was
Star Appliance. f irefighters felt that if they could save Star Appliance the bal-
ance of the block could be saved, but if the fl ames spread to that bui lding, it
appeared doubtful that the fire could be stopped. Store windows across the
street became dangerously hot. Schaff began clearing his jewelry store show
windows of merchandise and taking it to the back of his store.
Ice fishermen on Lake Winnebago, 15 miles away saw the fla mes and
came in to sec where the fire was.
Star Appli ance, adjacent to the cleaners, reported some damage to its appli-
ances . Wisconsin Telephone Co., adjacent to the bar, reported no damage to the
building or equipment.
The superheated air in the buildings exploded, pushing out the fro nt win-
dows of Nu Way Cleaners.
The entire Kaukauna firefighting fo rce of 13 men . including six who were
off duty, were called in to fight the fire .
After the fire was out, 17 loads of debris \Vere carted away in tnicks and
about 50 loads of ice was removed from the streets and bridges in the area.
About 100 yards of sand and 50- 100 bags of salt were spread on the treacherous
pavement.
Among those assisting in moving hoses were the Egan brothers, William,
James and Charles, Gene Nagan, Nick Milbach, Earl Luedtke, Don Solberg and
Howard Veldman. Two men from the water works and fo ur electrica l depart-
ment workmen were on duty duri ng the tire.
The next day firefi ghters kept knocking down fire that s prung up out of the
smoking debris. City crews worked on removing three-inch thick ice that
fanned in the street during the night. The city grader tried to scrape the ice off
the road. Estimated damages were about $100,000 ($769,23 l today).

15 1
2. G len Meyerhofcr's Hom e 6 15 West Seventh Str eet
Fire be! ieved to have originated with a family heating unit Monday morn-
ing, December 22, 1964. virt ually destroyed the Glen Meyerhofer residence. A
backfire from the rurnace appa rently sent flames up the chimney and ign ited the
tiny altic area in the wood frarne home. Mrs. Meyerhofer said that a loud noise
like an explosion preceded the outburst of flames in the upper story or the
home.
James Kramer, who was making a de livery to the West End Tavern. locat-
ed directly across the street from the Meyerhofer home, came over and ass isted
Mrs. Meyerhofer in evacuating the six youngsters "·ho were at home at the
time.
Firefighters said that the lack of atti c vents at the peak of the roof prevent-
ed them from reaching the attic area and excellent insulation kept the [ire con-
tained under the roof. Firefighters had to chop holes in the roof to reach the
names and by the time they had controlled the blaze the roof was almost com-
pletely burned. T he top noor of the home was charred and burned and there
was severe water damage on the main floo rs with a couple of feet of water
flooding the basement area.
The alarm was received shorlly after 11 a.111. and the fire was brought un-
der control by about 12:30 p.m.

3. Earl Verbetcn 's Home 709 East Nint h Street


In January of 1966, the home of Pol ice Sergeant Earl Vcrbeten was dam-
aged by fire. Firelighters ball led the blaze from 7 a.m. until after I0 a.m. Loss
was estimated at over $ 15,000 ($ 114,504 today).

4. Railroad S hop (Round I-l ouse) Bu ild ing on Second S treet


In February l 967. the 80-year-olcl railroad building, near the Fox Ri ver on
the south side rai Iroad yard . was destroyed in a spectacular night blaze. The
structure was being used by the Combined Paper Mills of Combined Locks as a
paper storage warehouse.
Three boys turned in the alarm at 4:45 p.rn. The complete Kaukauna Fire
Department responded to the scene. Firefighters concentrated in keeping the
names from spreading to other nearby buildings when they realized that the
warehouse could not be saved. The temperature was live degrees when the fire
started and descended to - I0 below during the night. Off-duty firefighters were
called in lo man hoses from 2 pu mpers. Water from the power canal was used
to feed three Iincs from each truck. They pumped an estimated 3 7.500 ga lions
on the fire ove r the course of three clays. At midnight a two-man crew started
rotating on the seem: for the remainder of the nigh t.
The sub-zero tcmperat.ures froze spray onto firefighters' hair, helmets and
coats, but the extreme cold did not seriously hamper their efforts. One pumper
had the hose pressure gauges li·eeze, but this did not stop its effectiveness.

152
The structure's roof caved in and !lames and smoke shot up to I 00 feet
high and attracted hundreds of onlookers lo the scene.
Three clays later Fire Chief Wi II iam Hau pl said that the fire was under con-
tro l, but was not out. Icing on the tops or the paper bales cul firelighters off
from the smo ldering pockets of fire sti ll remaining in the building. The depart-
ment made three runs on Monday and one run on Tuesday to pour an additional
10,000 gallons of water on these pockets. Van Daalwyk Construction Company
assisted the firefi ghters with bulldozers to gel al the isolnted areas and com-
plete ly extinguish the fl ames.
The building, a 60 x 300 foot s1one structure, was owned by the Chicago
and North Western Ra il way Co. Its contents were bales of chemical pulp.
punch cards and clay being used by 1he paper firm to produce paper.
Damage to the conten ts of the bui lding was est imated at about $ 120,000
($821,192 today) by Reinhold Vogt, pres ident of Combined Paper Mills. Vogl
said that the building had not been entered for some time. The paper firm used
three of the seven bui ldings in the complex for storage or raw materials. Until a
few years ago, they also stored fini shed paper prod ucts in these bui !dings .
The bui lding was a railroad machine shop (Round House) when Kaukauna
served as a rai l center fo r northeastern Wisconsin in the late 1800s and early
1900s. ll was used as a storage buiIding !Or the last 20 years. The building
,,·as not rebuilt.

5. Side P ocket P ool Hall on 115 West Wisconsin Avenue


On May I 0, 1968. winds gusting over 50 miles per hour blew an electric
power line into the Side Pocket Pool Hall bui lding. T he entire bui lding was
damaged by smoke and water. Flames were con tined lo the attic space. Fire-
fighters broke holes in the southeast corner of the structure in the roof and on
the west side to get to the burning eaves. Smoke was so thick over the down-
town area that at times it was impossible to see Wisconsin A venue. Occupants
of the second lloor escaped injury. Estimated damage was $ 100,000 ($657,895
today).

6. Ap ar t ment H ouse on West T enth Street


On August 28 , 1968, extensive damage res ulted in a fire Wednesday even-
ing as fire broke out in one of the apartments on West I 0th Street. The blaze
broke out in a storage closet in the back of the Thomas Ga nn apartment on the
upper flo or space and spread rapidly to a large sect ion or the back or the bui ld-
ing. Three other fami lies were evacuated.
Firefi ghters arrived on the scene at I 0:25 p.m . and continued on the site
until I a.m. The fire was contained to the roof and back or lhe bui lding on the
second floor. Firemen fighting the blaze were forced to cut numerous holes in
the roof in order to get at the fi re. One pumper and the ladder lrm:k le ft the sce-
ne at 12:30 a.m. with the remaini ng truck at the site for another 40 minutes.
The extent of the damage was not known. The tentative cause was faulty wir-
ing.
153
t~I

U:>Sllll]-( ;l (1\l .\S;IJ.111 0:> SOlOl(d


Round House Fire

Phocos councsy
Lyle Hansen

155
1970 - 1979 Decade
In 1970 the Kaukauna Fire Department had two fire engines and one ladder
truck. Engi ne 2 was a 1953 model and engi ne I was a 1958 model. Both or
these engi nes were manufactu red by 4-wheel drive out of Clintonvi lle. The lad-
der truck was a 1968 model manufactured by Peter Pirsch and Sons.
The aeria l truck was equipped \.V ith the main ladder wh ich was raised hy-
draulica ll y and also could be raised or lowered manually if the hydraulic system
shou Id !~iii. The main ladder was 75 feet long and had extension ladders total-
ing 123 feet. It had three individual ladders; a 14 foot, a 28-foot and a 35-!0ot
indiv idua l ladder in addition to a I0 foot roof ladder. Safety belts were used by
the firefighters while on the aerial ladder. There was an intercom on the top or
the aerial ladder and another in the truck to communicate with the driver. A
smoke ejector canied on the truck was used for drawing out smoke or any gase-
ous odors wh ich a build ing mi ght have. The ejector was operated by a 25W
power generator. Extinguishers ca rri ed fo r various types of fires were A
(ord inary combustibles such as wood or paper), B (fl ammable liquids such as
grease or gasoline) and C (electrica l fires) types. There was a saw which was
used for sawing through brick. meta l, etc.
In Jul y 1970 Fire Chief Sm its asked the city council for bids on 500 and
1,500 reel of hose. The council noted that the tire department had expended its
$4,000 budget and was operating in the red. Smits replied that the stale fire in-
surance rating bureau gave the City or Kaukauna a $4, 162 rebate to be used for
the support and maintenance of the lire department. The city had placed the
rebate money in the general fund.
Smits didn 't plan to run the fire department on a $4,000 budget. Jn defend -
ing the overextended budget Chief Smits noted that the department had a large
expense with one of the fire trucks wh ich needed new gears in the rear and in
the transmission, as well as having the engine rebui lt.
The hose was necessary because when there was a fire where firefighters
used a lot or hose to get the water source to the fl ames, almost all of the hose on
the truck is used. Afterward. the hose has to dry for 9 to 12 hours to prevent
mi Idew and if there was another alarm, the department would not have enough
hose. Some of the hose dated back to 1934. Tn 20 14 Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment sti 11 used hose from 1970 and 1973.
The problem of how to financ e the pay ment of needed hose fo r the
Kaukauna Fire Department was so lved when al l bidders fo r the hose agreed that
no payment need be made before January of 197 1. The accepted low bid or
$765 ($4,422 today) fo r 500 feel or hose, with an alternate price of $2.1 45
(S 12.399 today) for l.500 feet or hose, was submitted by the General Fire
Equipment Company of Oshkosh. The city council voted to accept the bid.
In 1971 the Kaukauna Fire Department sold the American La France
pumper truck with a little over 3,600 miles on the odometer. The 1936 fire
truck wns sold to the Internationa l Fire Fighters' Association of wh ich the

156
firefighters are members; they, in turn sold the truck lo Dr. Arndt, a Neenah
psychiatrist with the proceeds of the sa le going to the department's disaster
fund for persons in need i r a fire should occur.
The American-La France was not remembered lov ingly by the firefighters.
It was loaded so heavily at the rear thal you cou ld turn Lhe steering wheel with
one finger, said one firefighter. Coming to the railroad tracks on Division St., it
was "hang on and hope for the best..,
Engi ne No 3, was ordered in late I 975 and cost $73.86 l ($32 1, 135 today).
The main advantage that the 1977 Pierce lire truck had was the abi lity to squi11
more water on a fire than the department· s other trucks.
The Kaukauna firefighters got quite a few improvements over the 1953,
I 958 pumpers and the I 968 Pierce aerial ladder truck. The Pierce fire truck cab
seated five persons, three up front and two in little rear-facing scats. as opposed
to only about three persons in the cabs of the older trucks. The new truck was
equipped with an automatic transmission. It was also two-wheel drive. not four
-wheel drive. wh ich was easier to handle.
The new truck pumped 1.250 ga llons per minute, compared to 1,000 GPM
for the other trucks. Like the other pumpers, it carried l ,200 feet of hose in var-
ious sizes. The engine also carried a chai n saw and all -purpose circular saw
for rescue purposes. \\·hich weren' t on both the other trucks. and had its own
110-volt generator. There were four rotating red lights and a computerized anti-
skid braking system. The step plates were aluminum. rather than steel as on the
other trucks. which wou ldn't rust and were easier to maintain. Ladders were
lightweight aluminum and easier lo care for and wouldn' t burn.
With the new pumper's extra output, Chief Ted Smits planned to add more
than 400 feet of five-inch hose to the truck's equipment roster.
After practicing with the pumps and equipment during the first week, with
the assistance or a Pierce representati ve, the various driver/engineers each prac-
ticed driving the truck. The new truck would be the first truck sent out on emer-
gency calls. The 1953 and I 958 trucks would alternate as the second truck sent
out.
In 1970 The city council told Chier Theodore Smits that he needed to re-
duce his proposed 1971 budget. I le was asked to prepa re a list of priorities and
resubmit the budget.
Sm its refused to change the budget and instead read a letter to the counci l
in which he outlined his positi on in standing by his original figures of $2l,10 l
($1 27, 114 today) for 1971 which did nol include salaries. He also directed it to
the residents of the city:
"Gentlemen of the Public Protection and Safety Committee:
'·1 have carefully re-examined the 197 I proposed budget and with due con-
cern for the protection and public salety for the people of the City, I adhere to
the proposed budget.
·'The City of Kaukauna hired me as Fire Ch ief with the primary request to
upgrade the Department. Your rebuke to this increase in the budget is under-
standable to me.
157
"Members of the Public Protection and Safety Committee, you arc appoint-
ed by Mayor Anderson to appropriate fu nds efficiently and economically for the
wel fare of the taxpayer. You have proven to be conscientious in you r appropri-
ating the tax payees dollar.
"My job as Fire Chief must also be trustworthy as leader lo upgrade the
Department. My men with their specia lized training and cooperativeness would
not be able to exercise contro l of fire hazards in the city of Kaukauna with inad-
equate equipment.
''The economy of the taxpayer's dollar is as of much concern to me as it is
to you. Your duty as representative of the fisca l appropriation committee is re-
spected by the taxpayer.
"You question the maximum increase in my 197 1 budget. Last year's
budget of $4,000 was not quoted wit h inventory of the needs of the Departmem
for 1970.
·'I present to you the City Records documenting the money appropriated to
mainta in the Fire Department yea rl y after 1960 as fol lows.
Year Appropriation Year Appropriation

1960 1,544.73 1965 1,392.86


1961 I. 756.23 1966 2.000.00
1962 3. 140.35 1967 4.651.84
1963 1,691.14 1968 5,010.68
1964 1,363.88 1969 3,000.00
1970 4.000.00

''Due to the expanded territory, depending upon the Department protection


and due to the popul ation growth in the City since 1960. we must recognize the
law of supply and demand. The KFD supports the protection. the citizens of
Kaukauna demand.
·'\Ve do not need al l improvements at once. The Fire Department has been
stagnated for the past 30 years to the point of complete renovation.
··1 have carefully considered my proposed budget. As Fire Chief and a tax-
payer of the City, I have decided the budget remains as formerly presented. ll is
in no way self-indulgent. I subm it my budget to the committee to act according
to their fina l judgment for the pub lic protection and safety of the taxpayers of
Kaukauna.
··we arc all servants to the publ ic."
No decision was made by the counciI.
In 1970 a number of firefighters continued \\'ith training on handling each
piece of equipment. The men practiced using smoke masks. ladders and hoses
and operating the department' s three trucks. They earned advanced first -aid
certification which covered handling emergency situations. Another phase of
training involved each firefigh ter learning other officer's duties in order to be
able to take over another lirefighter' sjob if he was unavai lab le or injured.

158
The men practiced li ghling electrical and chemical fires and using various
fire extingui sher::;. Use or lhc resuscitator, breathing apparatus and smoke ejec-
tors were studied. The clcparlrnent partici pated in an area disaster drill with
Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company firemen. Viclirns were transported to
Kaukauna Communily I lospital. The training included paramed ic training
which is cove red in the chapter on the Kaukauna Ambulance/Paramedic Pro-
gram.
In 1970 lhe Fox Va lley Council of Governments (COG) published a report
\\·hich laid dO\\·n theoretical guidelines for future fire and rescue department
ser•ices. which included the Kaukauna Fire Department as a principal factor in
area tires.
The COG report listed fu ture poss ibilities as an increased reliance on pri-
vate protecti on and prevention, including standards on alarm systems, recom-
mendation of extinguishing systems bui lt into buildings and setting of their
standards. and an automated, computer centered dispatching system for the noti -
fication of fire departments.
In proposing the joint district lire department system, the reporl stated the
advantages of centra lized dispatching, communications, maintenance and train-
ing centers. The districts would be able to lake advantage of joint recruiting and
enforcement and the mutual avai lability of facilities, resulting in greater opera-
tional effectiveness. The report listed a second set of alternate recommenda-
tions, wh ich wou ld have been suggested if it had been administrati vely feasi bl e.
This I isl included the construction of a new two-bay fire station in Kaukau-
na to replace the existing faci lity at the Municipal Services Building located on
Third Street, west of Kaukauna. A new four-bay station would be built on the
north side of the Fox River Bridge between Little Chute and Kimberly. When
completed the project wou ld theoretica ll y provide for the abandonment of the
existing Combined Locks, Kimberly and Lillie Chute stations.
The COG report resulted in the city council recommending additional stud-
ies in the area of a proposed second fire station in Kaukauna, utilizing volunteer
firefighters and the creation of a public safety director who would oversee the
operation of the Kaukauna Fire Department, Rescue Squad and Police Depart-
ment.
The commission members told the committee the present dO\\·ntown fire
station on Third Street was another reason fo r an additional station. The station
at the Municipal Services Bui lding mea nt trucks must cross two sets, rather than
a single set of rai lroad tracks, either of which could block access to a north side
blaze if a train was passing. That pushed the north side properties fire ratings
up, resulting in insurance increases and the hazard of greater fi re damage. The
Lawe Street Bridge, which could conceivably be open to allow vessel passage at
the time of a fire, was another obstac le. Fire ratings go up if a property is 2.5
miles or more from a station; the far corners of the industrial park are about that
distance from downtown.
R & R Steel of Appleton prepared an in itial floor plan of the proposed fire

159
would have an expandable end wa ll , which could be mod ified if the bui lding
would need to be enlarged in the future. The structure would be large enough to
eventually house two pumpers and the ambu lance. Included would be an office.
men's and women's restroom faci lities, kitchen and dining areas and a dormito-
ry large enough for ten single beds. There would also be furnace and communi-
cations rooms.
Committee members expressed concern about the soil footin gs of the land,
which was a dra ined marsh. R&R Stee l indicated that if' it was awarded any
future contract fol lowing bidding. so il borings would be included to detem1ine
what the foundation requirements would be.
The presem fire equipment was deemed adequate. The department had a
new Pierce pumper on order which wou ld allow one o r the present pumpers to
be stationed at the north station. The present ambulance could be moved to the
north station to provide increased emergency medical service for the north side.
There \\'Ould be communication between the north side location and the do,,·n-
town departmem headquarters.
The comm iss ion recommended that one of the men at the north station
must be an emergency med ical technician (EMT) and two other men would
fo m1 the three-man complement at the new station. The Police and Fire Com-
mission produced four alternati ves for stalling the north side location, but noted
rhat the best protection per do llar wou ld be the hiring of three new full-time
men to produce the needed manpower at both locations.
T he comm ission suggcstecl augmenting the present department with a vol-
unteer aux iliary of 12 men who would be on cal 1. The reason was that fire in-
surance rating bu reaus used a department's manpower as a major asset in deter-
mining the quality of a city's fire protecti on . Insurance companies give the
same rating, whether firemen are volunteer or ful l-time. In addition fo ur volun-
teers would cost less than one rull-timc lire li ghter.
Mayor La Plante noted that because or city growth - annexation had added
about 200 acres in the previous fo ur ycnrs, and new subdivisions were planned
- the station could be warranted. The cost savings might not be in dollars, he
commented , but would offe r better prolct:l ion.
Under the commiss ion plan. the part-time firem en would have no other
rank than that of part-lime fire fighter. The pay could be $ 1.000 ($6,024 today)
per year no matter whether they responded to twenty Ii res or zero ii res.
The appli ca nts would have to be Knukauna city residents and would have
to be available 24 hours per day with their employers' agreement. The part-
timc force would be summoned to back up fu ll-time Kaukauna fi remen. and
would be called by an electron ic paging system the olunteer would have to
carry at all times. Thal plan generated as much discussion as the commission's
new north station at Hyland Avenue and I ligh Street proposa l. Reaction was
mixed, with one alderman leaning toward a plan ca lling for a 24-man volunteer
auxiliary along with translerring 6 men to the proposed new station.
The commission felt that a ful hime fireman could be replaced by three or
four volunteers in terms of sa lary. Cons iderati on should be given to replacing
I (>(}
each retiring fireman with three volunteers.
Chief Ted Sm its was div ided in his opin ion of a Kaukauna volunteer force.
A part of the plan proposed might result in only four men on duty fu ll-time. If
there were only a limited number and there \Vas a fi re call and an ambulance
call at the same Lime, there wo uldn't be enough men, he said. One alderman
s uggested a strictly volunteer department. The chief was definitely agai nst it.
He felt that an auxi liary would be a good idea and would be able Lo back up reg-
ular firemen at a serious blaze .
The council continued to debate the timing of building the north side sta-
tion. Several of the aldermen s uggested that the project be held over until great-
er expansion in the no1i h side industrial park had taken place. In the end it was
decided that there would be no expansi on of Kaukauna's fire department into an
auxiliary north side station until 1978. Approval was given fo r an aux iliary vol-
unteer corps of firefighters and the department was authorized to start advertis-
ing for. and interviewing potential candidates. T hose auxiliary firefighters
would augment the present 19 fu ll-time fi refighters, and the number of full time
firefi ghters would be increased to 22 in 1977 and 1978 to man the auxiliary sta-
tion on the city' s north side.
In October lhc city council voted 7-0 to refer lhe issue back to the Public
Protection and Safety Commi ttee follow ing an im passioned, last-minute appeal
by members of the fi re department, who asked aldermen to vote against estab-
lishing the volunteer force.
One week earlier, members of the Public Protection and Safety Committee
had voted 4-0 to hi re a nine-man volunteer fire fighting force in 1977 . T he vote
was part of a dua l recommendation, which also asked that the c ity put off con-
struction of a proposed north side fi re station until 1978.
Representatives of the firefighters un ion, who accounted for 15 of the 18
unifo rmed positions in the department, said that they did not take their objec-
tions abo ut the volunteer fo rce to the earlier commi ttee meeting because they
were unaware that the issue was even up fo r discussion that night
The issue s uggested hiring three fu ll-time fire lighters, moving men from
the main station to li ll shifts at the substation and establ ishing a 12-man vo lun-
teer force, vvhich would be o n cal l. The approximate cost o f the personnel
changes would be $48,000 (S 172 ,043 today), which would include S 1,000 in
salary per volunteer per year.
Captain Everette Bovee, a 13-year veteran o f the fire department and
spokesman for the eight off-d uty fire fighters who attended the council meeting,
termed the notion of setting up a vol unteer force a step backward . He said the
trend in the deparlment has been toward increased professionalism with 12 of
the 18 men receiving EMT trai ning and six men enroll ing in the fire science
course at Fox Valley T echnically CoJlege. Bovee said the first few minutes at a
fire scene were the most important, a time when full -rime people were critically
needed. He said his six-man platoon worked as a unit, in which each man
knows exactly what to expect fro m the others. " I' ll put my life in the hands
of anybody In my platoon," he sajd, adding that " he would make no such
161
guarantee with any volunteers." Bovee contended that by training a vol unteer
one day a month or even one day per week he could not bring that person up to
the caliber of the full-ti me !ire fighters.
Bovee sa id the issue of saving money by hiring volunteers hadn't changed
since February 1966, when the council last considered the move. ·'Everything
is geared to getting a better tire insurance rating.,. he said. But you've over-
looked the human factor here. What pri ce is li fe'? What price is dealhT'
Bovee disliked the idea of payi ng vol unteers S l ,000 each per year. He said
overtime pay for present off-duty firefi ghters called in fo r emerge ncy duty had
averaged only $ 110 each fo r the tirst nine months of 1976. He said it would be
outrageous to pay volunteers $ 1.000 each to cover an unlimited number of calls.
Rather, it would be better to distribute the emergency beeper devi ces for off-
duty men to wear so they could better respond to emergency ca lls.
He asked the counciI to table the recommendation for hiring volunteers and
come back later with a request for three full time fire fighters in 1977 and three
more when the north side station is ordered. "We fee l as though the people of
Kaukauna deserve the best," Bovee sa id. " Why give them the least? If you
can't afford the auxili ary department, then throw it out and keep what you' ve
got."
Fire Chief Theodore Smits said he agreed with the views expressed by Bo-
vee.
"Volunteers are great. in their place, but they just don't tit into the pattern
we have here in the City ot' Kaukauna," he said. He favored tabling the issue
for now and coming back later ,,·ith a request for more fu ll-time personnel.
Mayor Robert LaPlante said he real ized there was no comparison betwet:n
full-time and volunteer fire fighters, but that the intent of starting the volunteer
force in l 977 was to see if it would pan out befo re the north s ide station was
bui lt and the city committed itself to any policy uti lizing volunteers.
Referring to the $1.000 pay for volunteers. LaPlante said it was only a sug-
gestion. and that there was no specific commitment to it in the proposal for hir-
ing volunteers for 1977.
Aldermen appeared surprised that the firefighters had not given thei r views
on the issue to the Police and Fire Commiss ion. Aid. Thomas Anderson asked
for referral of the matter back to commiuee so that opposing viewpoints could
be gone over again. The vote to refer passed 7-0.
The controversy over a new fire stati on and vo lunteer firefi ghters con tin-
ued. A citizens' committee was charged with investigating the poss ible creati on
of a Public Safety Director for Kaukauna. Thi s person would oversee the oper-
ation of the Kaukauna Police Department. Fire Department and Rescue Squad
operation.
The study was suggested because of the growth of the city, the poss ibili ty
of constructin g a new aux iliary fire station to serve the north side of the city.
and changing staffing problems with auxi liary firemen. either Fire Chief Ted
Smits nor Police Chief William 1 age! voiced any opposition to the study.
Study of co-operative agreements and a 91 1 system should be included in
162
the study, committee members felt , since a central syslem could indicate where
an emergency was and help to eliminate confus ion caused by lack of infor-
mation or confusion over what department had jurisdiction.
Firefighter's proposals called for the study of the manpower in the deparl-
ment, and the possibility of adding more full-time personnel. A fu ll-time train-
ing officer and full-time fire inspector were also mentioned, and fi refighters
also asked for the study of wages in both departments, noting the parity bet1,.vccn
them. Duties of firefighlers, and the effective operation of a single person to
administer the two departments and his or her salary, were also proposed study
subjects.
Aller lengthy heated discussions. the citizens committee listed areas for lhe
consultants to explore. In addition to the question o r lhe publ ic satety director,
the others included:
I. Determining priorities for the delivery of poli ce and l'irc services, exam-
ining alternatives and recommendi ng agency goals and objectives with
benchmarks for measuring effectiveness.
2. Determining the feasibi lily of consol idating, merging and improving
police and fire support services in the areas of administration, records
keeping, communications and training.
3. Developing a pay/classification plan for pol ice and fire personnel that
recognizes role and responsibi lity, training and career development, and
performance evaluation methods.
4. Reviewing present recruitment, testing, discipline and promotion proce-
dures fo r compli ance with Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines
and for improving employment practices.
5. Developing a five-year plan which addresses faci li ty, personnel and
equipment needs and aux ii iary services (including ambul ance service
and crossing guards).
6. Examining cooperative and fun ctional relationships with surrounding
communities and support agencies.
7. Designing and administering. a survey questionnaire to al least 200
community leaders, busi ness and professional interests, emp loyees and
citizen s, to assist in determining communi ty attitudes regarding police
and fire services.

The Police and Fire Commission came out in unanimous oppositi on to


continuing a proposed consul tant study of the poli ce and fire departments. The
acting police chief and two other persons challenged the city"s right to combine
the position of police and fire chief into a single post of pu blic safety director.
Both Fire Chief Ted Smits and Po lice Chief William Nagel charged that the
ordinance creating the new position was invalid because a charter ordinance
was required to change the structure of the two departments. They also claimed
that it would take a referendum LO change a charter ordinance.
The Kaukauna commissioners apparently were "·orried that if a public
safety director was recommended and approved for Kaukauna, implementati on
163
would be put into a legal limbo by the Chippewa Falls maller. T he Chippewa
Falls case was important to Kau kauna because one of lhe major proposa ls con-
sidered was the combination of police and fire chief duties under a publ ic safety
director.
The advisory comm ittee cleciclecl half a study was worse lhan no study a l
all and as a result tabled the proposed ana lysis of lhe Kaukau na 's lire and police
depa11ments. Principal reasons included the denial or a quarter or the requested
$20,000 in state grants to fin ance the project Members ra ised the legal ques-
tion of establishing the post of public sa rety director. fe aring that if that was
recommended as a result, a sui t such as the one fi led but later dropped in Chip-
pewa Falls might be the end result
Another reason \vas what was termed "fo reseen personnel changes in the
departments with changes in departments to be handled by new supervisory per-
sonnel."
A firefighter/EMT at the meeting, Bruce Mathis. suggested that the Pol ice
and Fire Commi ssion could handle portions of the study and solve problems on
the loca l level.
Mayor LaPlante chose not 10 comment at the comm ittee's meeting. noted
thar a study two years ago or a proposed ne\\' north side fire station had been
undertaken by the commission. The study was tabled.
According to an agreemen t. adequately manned and equi pped lire appa-
ratus from the city would be provided to Grand Chute or vice versa whenever
the firefighti ng capabi lities of one of the two communities was committed to
such a degree as to endanger the community. The fire chief in the communi ty
or the mayor, or other municipa l government head or assistant lire chi ef' would
determine how many men and trucks would be involved, or when their use in
the other community was warranted .
Communi ties invo lved would bear the respons ibility for damage or loss to
their own equipment or inj uries to personnel. according to the sainplc agree-
ment. To assist out-of-town personnel. local firefighters would be assigned lo
direct emergency vehicles to the scene of the fire.
During the yea r, Fire Chief Ted Smits, n teacher. Mrs. Topper Switzer, and
an insurance man, Joseph Walsh. launched a "'Junior Fire Marshall " program in
grades one to four or the public schools during Fire Prevention Weck. A maga-
zine was dist1ibuted to each child in the participating classes. The magazine
included stories about safety, but the main feature of' the issue was an inspec tion
survey to be completed by the child and a parent. The survey was a check-l ist
of various thi ngs around the home which consti tute fire hazards. In December
another magazi ne was distri buted with stories and instructio n about hazards
common during the holiday and wi nter season. The spring magazine was pub-
lished fo llowing the theme connected with spring cleani ng time. During the 70s
the majority of minor fires consisted of grass and lcar fires. Other minor fires
included electrical wi ring, electrica l appli ances, ca r/truck lires and rubbish fires.
Three retired firefighters recalled what it was like when they were hired in
The 1970s. Bob Nack was hired in I974. He remembered "the old station
164
dividers and dorm itory style rooms. The firefighters were ve1y good cooks es-
pec ially with wild game such as venison, smelt, geese, pheasants, and turkey at
Thanksgiving and Christmas."
Also, they got a number of calls to remove cats from trees.
Wayne Vanevenhoven started in the department in 1972. He remembers
"At the old station we had partitions set up in our combinalion dining room/day
room. The parlitions were around the outside of the room and the beds were
behind the partitions. The new guys slept in the only bunk beds. The new sta-
tion was larger and most of us slept in a large dormitory except the officers who
slept in their pri vate rooms.
"Moslly on weekends and holidays we cooked our meals together. Some
people brought wild game including bear, moose, elk, deer and even sturgeon.
Over the years we had more traditional meals but we sti ll cooked together often.
We also invited the police over for a meal on a weekend. Doughnuts were pur-
chased often and it was required to bring a treat on your birthday.
"We set up and ran the bicentennia l parade in Kaukauna. It was one of the
largest parades ever in Kaukauna. One of the TV stations in Green Bay carried
it live. All of the firefighters wo rked hard on their off hours to make th is hap-
pen.
"The dai ly officer in charge would assign duties for the day. Years ago the
youngest would mop the 11oors and do the bathrooms but as years passed, these
duties were rotated. We got nu merous "cat up the tree call s." For the most part
we didn't respond to those. We were ca lled when ducklings fe ll into a sewer
and \\'e saved all of them for a wonied mom."'
The old Badger No1thland Bui ldi ng on Second Street was converted into
city hall, fire and police departments. Jerry Kobussen remembers, "A ll the fire-
lighters were involved in the move to lhe tire station on T hird Street in 1975.
We used trailers, trucks and cars. We moved kitchen appl iances, di shes. tables.
chairs, beds/maltresses, TV, desks, fire hose, hose racks, fire extinguishers and
chemicals, turnout gear, engines, ladder truck, ambulance, and cleaning sup-
plies. On June 22, 1975, an open house and dedicati on fo r the new rire station
was held.

165
Major Fires 1970 - 1979

1. Marvin H ooym a n 's R esidence - Five Family Mem be rs Di e 913 Drap er


Street
Five members or the Ma rvin Hooyman famil y died early Sunday on Janu-
ary 11. 1970, when a flash fire sent heavy smoke and intense heat through their
two story frame home, trapping them in their second floor bedrooms.
or
The victims were Mrs. Patri cia Hooyman, 39. and fo ur her five children,
Michae l, 2 1; Catherine, 15: Sarah. 9: and Christopher. 4. Michael had returned
from a tour of duty in Vietnam on Christmas Day. Man·in. 44. and another son.
Gary, 18. were the only survivors. Gary was waiting fo r a ride to work in the
kitchen of the home when the fi re broke out. He esca ped without injury. His
father had left fo r work at the Kimberly Mil l abou t 40 minutes before the blaze
began at 5:55 a.m. Gary told authorities that he saw a .. big flash"' in the li ving
room while he was waiting. I le said he ran upstairs but was forced back by
heavy smoke and intense heat. The youth said he screamed warnings but re-
ceived no answer.
An anonymous caller reported seeing flame spurting from the house.
Kaukauna firemen responded with 3trucks. Fireman climbed by ladder to a
window at the north west corner or the home, smashed the window but fou nd no
one inside the room. A search or the north upsta irs bedroom revealed the bod-
ies of three people.
Mrs. Hooyman and her two sons, Michael and Christopher were fou nd by
firemen lying on the fl oor ol. lhe boys' bedroom. She received ltrst, second and
third degree burns over 15 percent or her body apparently during an attempt at
rescuing the children. The boys had minor burns.
One of the Hooyman girl s \Vas round on the lloor or her bedroom . The
olher was lying in the doorway or the sl!cond bedroom . The deaths were at-
tributed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Chief Smits reported that the fire was confined to one end of the davenpo11
in the li ving room. The window fram es over the davenport were badl y charred,
but the rea l damage ca me not rrom flam es, but from the tremendous heat.
It was thought that a davenport that blocked a hot air duct and an aerosol
can lying beneath the davenport may have caused the fire. The stairway acted
like a chimney for the smoke to pour upstai rs.

2. Badger Northland Company Warehouse (Former Railroad Round


House)
Sparks dropped from a weld ing torch we re thc ca use of a lire which com-
pletely gutted the warehouse containing pi ece parts and too l and di e making
equipment belonging to Badger North land in Kaukauna on June 26, I970.
The fire started. according to Marquardt Welding owner Gordon Mar-
quardt, vvhen he \vas arc we lding on a too l elevator on the second fl oor of the
warehouse. Sparks from the arc we lder dropped to Lhe lirst lloor and ignited

166
cardboard tote boxes. Aller efforts to ex tingui sh the blaze failed, Teel Coenen, a
forkli ft truck driver, alerted the fire depa rtment. Despite the lack of water
which hampered firemen initia lly, pum pers were immediately able to pump \.Va-
ter from the nearby hydro electric power canal.
Firemen were unable to contain the blaze, and the fire quickly spread, with
intense heat fo rcing firemen back. Within a short time !lames had spread
throughout the 110-year-old bui lding and into materi als stored in adjoining
yards. The heat of the fire caused one wa lI on the southeast side to buckle and
topple. and cracked portions or a south side wall. Al one point the heat was so
great that a hose being used by firemen ignited and burned. As more of the
boarded-over windows burned away or blew out, more ai r was admitted to the
structure. Power lines burned away. creating an addit iona l hazard fo r firemen.
but were quick ly turned off by maintenance crews. About 20 minutes aner the
fire broke out: the roof collapsed sending flames high into the air.
The replacement value \\'as estimated at $200.000 (S 1.183,432 today).
The structure was originall y owned by the Mil wau kee and Lake Shore
Railroad and then the Chi cago and Northwestern Railroad. The city acquired
the properly atier the fire for ruture use.

3. Kaukauna High School on Ma in Str eet Now Riverview School


A smoky lire ignited in foa m rubber at hl etic supplies in a storage room,
routed students from tht: Kaukauna I I igh School Monday afternoon, March 22,
1971. School officials and firemen reported no inju ri es in the blaze. Several
students attempted to turn in the alarm.
In itially reported abou t I :20 p. m., the lire brought three units of the
Kaukauna Fire Department , and all ol'f'.-cluty fi remen were ca lled to the scene
shortly after. The fire apparently started in loam rubber padding used in high
and broad-jumping activities and spread up the stairwell to the gym entrance.
First noted by studen ts play ing basketball in the school's old gymnasium,
the fire was contained in a storage room adjacent to the lunch room. A stairwell
runs fron1 the storage area up lo the gym. T he storage mom and stairwe lI were
gutted, with add itional damage to the gymnasium wa ll and floor, external and
internal doors leading to the area, and to a make-up room adjacent to the audito-
rium stage upsrairs. Damage was reported up to$ I 0,000 ($96,045 today).
The fire was brought under control with in 15 minutes of the alarm by fire-
men and school personnel using the sc hool's extinguishers. Fi remen forced to
use the breathing equi pment clue to the dense smoke. stayed to wet down the
area for some time after. and used portable smoke ejectors to clear the air in the
building. Some students were allowed to re-enter the bui Iding at abou t 2:20
p.m. to pick up books and be longings and were then dism issed for the day.

4. XYZ Corporation Secon d Floor on Island Str eet


Fire on October I I. 1971. caused about $500,000 ($2 .824.859 today) as il
burned through the second lloor ractory at th~ XYZ Corporation, a plastic recy-
cling firm. The loss included about 60 to 70 percent or raw material scheduled
167
for processing and fin ished goods.
A passer-by noticed the smoke and fire on the second fl oor and alerted the
employees. Wayne Frank and Daniel Schmid t, working near an elevator shall,
went upstairs to investigate and could feel the heat. The two men cal led the fire
department and tried to put out the fire wi th an extinguisher. Other emp loyees
also attempted to put the tire out with ex tinguishers.
The flames spread from the west side of the building and then went into the
second floor office space used by Genera l Manager Urban and other company
officers. Firefighters were at lirst hampered by low water pressure from nearby
hydrants, but were able to get sufficient pressu re through the use of both or the
department's pumper trucks. As the fire spread both pumper units led up to
three lines of hose, whil e a spec ial nozzle at the encl of the aerial ladder was
used to direct water to the roof of the building.
Firefighters climbed to the roof of the shipping dock on the north end of
the building and attempted to control the fire in that section or the structure
which housed stored plasti c and drums containing of oil and solvent. Water
from that line and a second line which wet down the lower ll oor and the ship-
ping dock enabled employees to remove the drums and also to move parked
cars, a small trailer and a semi-trailer parked near the dock. Firefighters gradu-
ally brought the blaze under control about I I :30 p.rn. They were ab le to con-
fine it to the second story area.
The O\\·ner of the damaged structure. the Green Bay and Mississippi Canal
Company, indicated that the Canal Company Board of Directors would meet
next week, and the building would be among the topics disc ussed. The ca nal
company decided not to rebuild. All XYZ employees were laid off.

5. Boy Scout Cabin at Rivers ide Park


A fi re of undetermined origin gutted the Boy Scouts cab in in Ri verside
Park early Monday morning on January I3. I975, destroying the majority or the
Scout's camping equipment stored inside. The lire was discovered about I :30
a.m. Monday by patrolling poli ce officers. Two ti re trucks were called to the
building located just off Ri verside Ori ve overl ooking the ri vcr and two aclclition-
al firemen were also ca lled to the scene. Camping equ ipment was damaged by
water, tire and charred smoldering material when the roof collapsed on it. The
building was a tota l loss. Electric service to the cabin had been disconnected
for the season and the space heater was not in use. T he cabin was not rebui IL.

6. Ouclenhoven Co mpany Build ing at 10 10 Blackwell Street


On April 23, 1975, a commercial and industrial warehouse was mode rately
damaged in a late eveni ng blaze. The lire caused damage to lhc wall s, ra fters,
ceiling and roof of the frame building. The Kaukauna Fire Department re-
sponded to the alarm with two trucks and contained the fire to the main floor
area. Estimated damage was 5>5,000 ($2 1,2 77 today).

168
7. Duplex at 212 E. Seventh S treet
Fire gutted the room in which it started and damaged an adjoining kitchen
at the Harold Shuckhart apa1tment on June 4, 1975. Apparently caused by ci ga-
rette ashes in a back room mattress, the blaze forced Schukhart and other per-
sons in the upstairs apartment to tlee the bui lding along with other tenants of the
home who occupied the downstairs apartment. Firefighters brought three trucks
and later called in l 0 off-duty firemen to fight the blaze which was brought un -
der control at about 8 a.m.
Several thousand dollars damage resul ted from the fire wh ich damaged
rafters, wall s, roofi ng and an attic floor. The blaze was confined to the second
floor. but water and smoke damage were reported in the apartment below.
No one was injured, although one man reportedly woke up to find the mat-
tress on which he was sleeping and his jacket smoldering, and the attic fill ed
with smoke. He attempted to leave, but had to call for help to open the door.
The other persons were awakened and quickly left their apartments.

8. First Floor Apartment - T wo Children Die 8 16 Metoxen Avenu e


On Apri I 12, 1976, the lower apartment at 8 16 Metoxen A venue was de-
stroyed by fire. The fire started in the basement stairwell and qui ck ly spread
through the first floor apartment occ upied by the Robert Bartels Jr. fami ly.
Robert Bartels was at work and Mrs. Bartels had gone across the al ley for a
few minutes to use the phone. Upon return ing home Mrs. Bartels discovered
the apartment was on fire. She was unab le to enter the apartment due to smoke.
An off-duty firefi ghter. Robert Nack, living next door, noticed lights fl ick-
ering and heard crackling noises. Nack ran next door and tried to enter the low-
er apartment, but was unable to. He kicked in the door lead ing to the upper
apartment, entered the upsta irs apartment and helped the fami ly escape down
the stairs.
Once firefighters arrived, they donned fire masks and entered the apart-
ment. The men found two children in one bedroom and a 6-month old child in a
crib in the master bedroom. The baby survived. Two children perished in the
fire , 3-year-old Melissa, and her two-year-old sister, Bobby .Jo, died from car-
bon monoxide poisoning.
Fire Chief Ted Smits said that bare wiring in the basement stairwell caused
the fire. Off-duty firefighters were called in and the fire department was on the
scene until 8:30 a.m.

9. Kaukauna E lectric & Utility Storage Ar ea on l\l ain Street


Fi re occurred on August 2 I, 1976, the second fire in less than two weeks al
the four-story brick building at the bottom of the Lawe Street Bridge on Main
Avenue. The bui lding formerly housed the city offices. police and fire depart-
ments.
Entry was gained through the rear portion of the building. lead ing to an
area which formerly was occupied by the fire department staffs living quarters.
A door was found open and at least one window broken.
169
Chief Smits said it was the kind of slow-burning fire that would have pro-
vided an ideal environment for an arsonist to have sufficient time 10 get away
from the scene before the blaze was spotted. Four young people noticed small
amounts of smoke coming out the front and rear portions of the ga rage as they
drove by and reported the fire. When the firefighters arrived a few mi nutes later
and smashed out a front window to get in, the smoke was intense and !lames at
the rear of the garage were shooting six to eight feet in the air, according to
Smits. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in a short period o r time. Estimated
damage was $ 12,000 ($48,387 today) .

10. Don and C huckie's Tavern 121 W. Wisconsin Avenue


On June 27, 1977, fire broke out at Don and Chuckie's Tavern. causing
extensive damage. Fire Chief Ted Smi ts stated that it was questi onable if the
fire started accidently. No cause was fo und fo r the tavern fire which broke ou t
abou t 2:34 a.m. Arson was suspected.
Damage inc luded smoke and water in the bar area and liv ing quarters on
the ground floor while bedrooms in the basement were burned out. No one was
injured. Two tnicks and the aerial truck responded to the scene. Firefighters
used a ladder to assist the tavern owner, Donald Joseph's, daughter from a back
porch. Others fl ed through a door after breaking ils lock . Estimated damage
was $75.000 ($284.091 today).
Later Lloyd Lacy was charged with arson and convicted.

11. Carstens Elevator Storage Building on Crooks A venue & Second Street
The cause of a fire in a storage bui lding behind the Carstens Elevator. Inc.
reta il and hardware outlet remained undetermined according to Kaukauna fi re-
fighters.
On December 27, 1977. at 12:07 a.m. Monday morning. fire destroyed a
wood and corrugated metal bui !ding and the majority of its contents. The con-
tents included two trucks. one an almost new bulk feed vehicle, several
la\\'nmowers, parts and small motors. An electric pO\\'er pole nearby and utility
lines were burned. Hay in the building was also partially burned . and three Car-
stens' trucks were damaged. Firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading
from the storage building. Eleven off-duty firemen were su mmoned to the
blaze. One truck stood by until 6 a. m. in case or any flare-up. Estimated dam-
age was over S12,000 ($45,455 today) . The building destroyed was fo rmerly a
portion of the old Lucht Brothers Fuel Co. at 220 E. Second St.

12. Building Housing the Corner Bar a nd Stella ' s Bea uty Salon on the cor-
n er of Wisconsin Avenue and Lawe Street
High winds and a rO\\·dy cro,,·d hampered efforts to fight a fire which lev-
eled a commercial buildi ng early Sunday morning on August 28. 1978.
The building, owned by Glen LeCJair, housed the Corner Bar and Stel la's
Beauty Salon. The Comer Bar had been closed about three weeks for remodel-
ing work. Firemen indi cated the blaze was out of control when they arri ved
170
at 12:05 a.m. with the inside of the tavern engulfed in flames. The building and
contents of the two business places were termed a total loss, estimated at
$50,000 ($189,394 today). Only minor damage resulted to upstairs apartments
in an adjacent building. All off-duty firefighters were called in and remained at
the scene until about 6 a.m. A few firefighters remained until 4 p.rn. Sunday
watering down the smoldering ruins.
Shortly after 1 a.m. the tire spread to an overhead power line near the tav-
ern. Sparking resulted and after three or four minutes the line snapped and fell
onto cars parked along the east side of the bar on Wisconsin Avenue. Kaukauna
Electrical & Water Utili ty workers cul off the power and cleared the lines in a
short time. Firefighters on the tavern roof were driven off by the smoke and
spreading flames , but no injuries were reported.
Wind driven debris covered vehicles and other buildings two blocks from
the scene. The shutters on the Factory Outlet building across the street were
charred.
Mrs. Bernard Collins operated the beauty salon and Glenn LeClair operat-
ed the tavern.
Police charged 12 motorists with driving around barricades erected to con-
trol traffic at the fire scene, operating a vehicle within the block of the fire and
driving over fire hoses. Two spectators were charged with disorderly conduct
when they scuffled with police who were attempting to prevent them from re-
moving ban-icades at the scene.
The structure was over 100 years old and had housed taverns under various
names in recent years. lt \.Vas illustrated on an 1880 panoramic view of the city,
and also was the location of a tavern operated by the old Regenfuss Brewery.

13. Trinity Lutheran School 800 Augustine Street


What appeared to have been a case of arson on May 29, 1978, on Monday
afternoon was a fire in a classroom at the Tri ni ty Lutheran School. Principal
Robert Moldenhauer discovered the fire when he went to the school, closed for
the holiday, to pick up some items. He called the Kaukauna Fire Depa1tment.
Three trucks were sent to the school, and firefighters used hand extinguishers
and water to put out the fires. At one location they had to chop through a hard-
wood floor to extinguish a beam burning beneath the floor. Kaukauna fighters
were able to confine the blazes to the rooms.
Damage included burned flooring , books and bulletin boards in two class-
rooms. A globe and overhead projector were also destroyed. A piano was dam-
aged and there was smoke damage throughout the second floor of the building.
Fires had apparently been set at nine different locations in the rooms in the
building, built in 1923. Fire Chief Ted Smits said that in view of the nine sepa-
rate fire locations in the school, that he and police officials were treating the fire
as an arson case.

17 1
14. Immanuel United Church of C hrist 510 Sullivan Avenue
On April 29, l 978, lire damaged the Immanuel United Church of Christ. lt
was the second suspicious fire that year. Firefighters extinguished the fires with
three pressurized water extinguishers, and later used an exhaust fan to clear out
the smel l of smoke. Three extra men were ca lled to the scene as a precaution.
Damage included current papers and older records. In one office, material
on a secretary's desk was destroyed and a typewriter melted. and papers were
burned atop a filing cabinet in an adjoining office.
Earlier in the year, a fire was discovered in the same offices, apparently set
by vandal s who attempted to ignite papers and furniture with a trail of furniture
polish. After Sunday night's fire , police reported that a charcoa l lighter can was
found in one of the offices.

15. Apartment above Bob 's Tavern 120 East Third Street
On August 28, l 979, a fire which began at about l l :43 p.m. destroyed the
bedroom and kitchen of the forward upstairs apartment occupied by tavern own-
er Robert Dix. The contents were destroyed.
No one was inj ured. Dix and patrons reported ly tried to extinguish the
blaze with fire extinguishers upon the fire's discovery but weren't able to do so
and cal led the fire department. Firefighters found the bedroom in flames and
quickly brought the smoky fire under control. The blaze was confined to the
two rooms on the second floor.

16. Robert .Jones' Home 308 Dixon Streel·


On November 27, 1979, fire caused extensive damage to a residertee occu-
pied by the Robert Jones fomily.
Reported by passerby Donald Kess ler at 9:33 p.rn., the blaze almost com-
pletely burned out the lower floor of the two-story home and caused extensive
damage to upstairs rooms. The fire started in a lower bedroom or bathroom and
destroyed walls in the lower living room, causing considerable smoke damage
in a front bedroom. The fire spread through the walls to the upstairs kitchen
and firefighters were forced to cul through into the attic to get at the flames on
the upper floor.
Flames were shooting from the windo·ws when the fire department arrived.
Firefighters used three trucks, and ca lled in Chief Smits and seven additional
men to quench the flames. The lire was out in about an hour.

17. Quonset Hut on Elm Street


On July 17. 1979. the quonset building used by James Lehrer's paper recy-
cling operation for paper storage burned. The building was located to the rear
of the Outagamie County Garage on Elm Street.
The fire was reported to the Fire Department around l I: 10 p.m. Two fire
trucks responded immed iately and a third truck was called a half hour later.
The firefighters were on the scene for three hours. A front-end loader from
Kaukauna Electric & Water crew disconnected wires which began sparking
172
during the fire. A front-end loader from Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company
cleared out the cardboard bales.
Chief Smits said the cause of the fire was unknown . He theorized that young-
sters might be responsible or spontaneous combustion.
The quonset hut was one of the original huts built right after WWIJ and
used as housing for returning war veterans. The huts were located on the vvesl
side of Highway 55 where the strip mall is near 19th and 20th Streets. The city
moved the quonset hut to Elm Street and used the building for storing trucks
and eq uipment until moving into the current Municipal Services Building gar-
age.

Kaukauna High School Fire

Photos councsy Lyle 1-lansen

173
Irnrnanuel United C hurc h of Christ

Badger Northland Company Warehouse

Photos courtesy Lyle Hansen

174
XYZ photos courtesy Lyle Hansen

XYZ Corporation

Carstens Elevator

175
1980 - 1989 Decade

The l 980's would sec two !ire chiefs retire and two fire chiefs selected.
The Police and Fire Commission selected Tom Roberts, 52 years old, lo replace
Fire Chief Ted Smits, who retired March I, 1985. Roberts had been with the
fire department for 28 years. He became an assistant to Smils in 1975. He was
acting as the city's fire inspector for the previous three years, as well as assist-
ing Smits with administrative and budget work. Ch ief Roberts retired on Janu-
ary 1, 1988.
The Police and Fire Commission then selected Captain Tom Jansen as the
new fire chief A veteran of 22 years with the Kaukauna Fire Department. Jan-
sen joined the department in 1966 as a firefighter, and became a driver-engineer
in 1972 and then became a captain the same year.
The fire department participated in severa l county training exercises. One
was a high rise drill using the Zuelke Building in J\pplcton. Fifty-one firefight-
ers from Kaukau na, Town of Grand Chute, Neenah, Town of Menasha and City
of Menasha joined the Appleton Fire Department in battling a s imu lated report-
ed exp losion and fire at the Zuelke Building, downtown Appleton. Aerial lad-
ders and baskets on snorke l trucks li fted the men and supplies to the seventh
and eighth floors of the building. Outside the open windows. the air was cloud-
ed by billows of non-toxic smoke.
The biggest deficit noticed from the drill was that fire hoses running into
the building didn't have water go ing through them. The departments reviewed
all reports and identified areas where changes could be made to improve ser-
vice.
Periodically throughout the 80s mock disaster dri lls took place at the mu-
nicipa l services bui lding, park department garage and schoo ls.
The paramedics participated in extensive hours of paramedic training. This
training is covered in the ambu lance and paramedic chapter.
Fire Chief Paul Hirte remembered training when he was hired in 1983:
·'Hose handling and the determination of proper fire streams and associated ap-
plications were done with shift training. Often times, there was the coordina-
tion of pump operations with fire stream training. We also utilized the annual
hose testing process as a training opportunity as well. The complexity of master
stream applications. however, was a large sca le event and orten times utili zed
hose lines, appl iances, and nozzles from several engines and ladder truck. We
conducted this training at various locations. We took the opportunity to draft
from the river for large volumes o~· water as well as vacant land within our in-
dustrial parks. When I started at the Kaukauna Fire Department we had 2.5-
inch and 1.5-inch hose for fighting fire. Around the mid 1980"s we added 5-
inch supply line and I. 75-inch hand line for fighting fire .
..The training with ladder trucks was done as shift or company training. In
I 983 our current ladder truck was a 1968 Peter Pirsch and Sons Co. This truck
had a 1.000 GPM pump and 75 foot extension ladder. As sophisticated as this

176
truck was there were challenges and delays for set-up of the water tower. We
had to manual ly attach do uble jacketed 3-inch hose and nozzle to the ladder and
properly secure it. Then we foci the water tower line from additional hose ex-
tending from the pump. This proved to be challenging compared to today 's pre-
piped and pl umbed aerial devices. Many hours were put into training to master
the technique of set ting up the ladder for water flow. Training also required
firefighters to be proficient in proper placement of the apparatus not only for the
application of water but for rescue purposes as well. We often set up the aerial
ladder in front of the fire station to si mulate victim removal from the fire de-
partment roof. Thi Imany mi II also served as a training ground and provided
opportunity for app lication of victim removal/rescue from different bui lding
heights.
"Confined space training was conducted throughout the city. We utilize
Yarious lift stations and se\\·ers within the city. We trained at Thilmany mill
uti lizing their training vesse l. We also trained in conjunction with Kaukauna
Utility and made entry at various locati ons within their hydro plants.
"Scrutinizing ways to reduce the fire department's costs the Police and Fire
Commission centered on a master lire study outline offered by a U.S. Fire Ad-
ministration representative. One cost saving area was mutual agreements with
surrounding communities. The agreements would provide men and equipment
at a serious fire or other major di saster. The city had an agreement with the Ap-
pleton Fire Department.''
The Council approved a mutua l aid agreement in 1983 with the Little
Chute Vo lunteer Fire Department so that the vi llage department would be avail-
able if the Kaukauna fire trucks were unable to cross the Fox River if a bridge
malfunctioned.
fn I 989 the city entered into a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Bu-
chanan Fire Department to give ass istance if needed during a major fire . The
town had enough manpo\.ver but was looking fo r additional equi pment to be
brought in to assisL. In addition to trucks and men, the agreement included the
use of the Jaws of Life and the department' s rescue boat.
The mutual aid agreements were written so that there would be no cost to
the communi ty ca lli ng for assistance, and the respective municipalities insur-
ance covered men, trucks and equipment from that department should an acci-
dent occur \vhile responding to a ca ll for help.
Budget concerns continued into the nineteen eighti es. The proposed 1982
Fire Depa11men l budget was cut by $8,5 00, thus el irninacing the purchase of a
three-quarter ton van. In addition two positions in the tire department were
eliminated. The Kaukauna Times described the action as "'Budget cuts in the
City of Kaukauna have \\·ashed away two positions in the fire department as
effectively and quick ly as a fire hose nushing away all traces of spilled gaso-
1ine. ··
Firefighter I loward McCabe. dec ided to retire early in order to save one of
the men fro m losing his job. The plan to cross-train firefi ghters and police offic-
ers as a cost saving measure continued into the 80s. The plan did not have
177
the s upport of the Police and Fire Comm ission or the fire and pol ice depart-
ments. The main reasons s ighted were reductions in profi ciency, reduced fire
and police protection and the high initial cost to implement the plan.
Mayor Van De Hey commented that eventually al l department personnel
would be equipped with radio pagers on which they would be called. It wou ld-
n 't be necessary for firefighters lo remain al the s tation to handle phone and ra-
dio ca lls. At the September 1982 council meeting Mayor Van De Hey intro-
duced his plan to switch from a full -time fire department to an a lI-vo lunteer de-
partment.
The l 98 l fire department budget was S477,000 ($ 1, 154,964 today) and
increasing due to the paramedic program. Yet the consensus was that the emer-
gency rescue service was considered a service that residents would not part
with. That meant taxpayers were paying close to $500,000 (S 1,285,347 today)
waiting for a fire.
Van De Hey pointed out that Grand Chute had a population of l 0, 192, with
a property valuation of $357 million, or 4-1 /2 times greater than Kaukauna, yet
their budget for fire protection was on ly $50,560 ($122,421 today) per year.
Ashwaubenon bas a combined force of police, fire and paramedic, where
each person wears three hats. The per capita cost vvas S50. Kaukauna 's per
capita cost for fire protection was $106.
At this time Kaukauna was in a monetaiy ciisis. The 60s and 70s money
from state and federal levels was drying up resulting in cash flow problems and
budget cuts.
Switching to a volunteer department would not change home owner's fire
insurance costs. Van De Hey wasn't sure if business and/or industry fire insur-
ance rates would be affected.
Mayor Van De Hey listed four possibilities fo r keeping the paramedic ser-
vice intact: Retain the service as it is now or have Kaukauna Community Hospi-
tal take over the service. Third option was to have the service provided by an
existing paramedic service such as Gold Cross, a pri vate ambulance company
based out of Appleton. The last option was to look for a completely new pro-
vider which would station itself in Kaukauna.
Noting that this was a time for change, the mayor wanted to combine the
fire and police depa11111ents under one head - that of a sa fety director. This
would save the city approximately $25,000-S30,000 annually. The opportunity
presented itself in that Police Chief Lopas was retiring and Fire Chief Smits
indicated that he would soon retire and would not stand in the way of a public
safety director.
An infom1ational meeting was held in September 1982. Four experts from
Ashwaubenon, Brown Deer. Shorewood and Appleton discussed the role of the
public safety director. Pol ice Chief Gorski of the Appleton Police Department.
who previously served as a public safety director in Minnesota. spoke in fa vor
of the plan.
The possibilities in chang ing the status of the fire department now includ-
ed:
178
• A partial full-time department with a partial paid on-cal l (volunteer)
department.
• Keep the cu1Tent department in place and supplement it with paid-on-call
personnel.
• Jmplement a complete volunteer department.
• Establish a police-fire-paramed ic department such as Ashwaubenon had.
Chief Smi ts requested more men in the 1984 budget. The additional tra in-
ing and retrain ing of the paramedics caused shortages in the department. The
mayor informed Smits that the 1984 budget would not incl ude funds for addi-
tional manpower. He fe lt that a safety director could accomplish this cross
training.
Smits reported that he had already instituted several changes in the staffing
pattern at the fire department. In an accident or medical emergency, a fire truck
caITying paramedics assisted the rescue squad rather than having all paramedics
in the department vvhen five men were on duty. lf four men were on duty and
the ambulance was called out, one man was cal led in.
Fire Inspector Tom Roberts was also used as a fireman on clays to elimi-
nate overtime. l n addition, rather than have the men report to the s1ation when
called in, all fire trucks carried all of the men's boots and turnout coats so that
they could respond directly to a fire.
The possibi lity of hiring a safety director became a hot topic in the city.
The position would be admin istrative; coordinating and supervising all police
and fire depaitment operations to the highest levels of efficiency. The fi re and
police departments were aga inst the proposal and initiated a ca mpaign against
the change.
Prior to the April referen dum advertisements, posters, banners, leaflets,
packets, letters to the editor, and pub Iic forums were used to either support or
refute the proposal to have a publi c safety direc1or head the police and fire de-
partments.
Bruce Math is, spokesman for the fire department. began a round of speak-
ing engagements outlining the reasons a Safety Director would not be a benefit
to the fire depanmem and city residems.
The ··Citizens Against the Public Safety Director"' listed 1heir reasons for
opposing the public safety director' s position. The reasoning, according to the
ad, was a weakening of law enforcement and a hazardous reduction in paramed-
ic-fire protection. Additiona l expense needed for the cross-training and addi-
tional equipment, in communiti es where fire-paramed ic and police duties were
combined resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of fire-paramedic and police
protection to the taxpayers. Of the 187 incorporated cities in Wisconsin, on ly
Wisconsin Rapids had a partia lly integrated pol ice and fire department, and
eight villages had a public safety director.
The city counci l stressed the cost savings and the advantage of one-man
leadership over the fire and po lice departments.
Further complicating the plan was that Fire Chief Ted Smits, 63 years of
age. informed the council that he would not voluntarily retire. Hi s decision was
179
based on a lower court ruling which rcanirmed that people could not be forced
to retire unti l they reac hed the age or 70. The ruling aclclecl that age was less of
a job qualification for public protecti on personnel who are in managerial posi-
tions such as a chief.
Mayor Van De Hey said the wording or the referendum question would ask
if the city should eli minate the positions or police and lire chiefs: therefore. it
wouldn ·t technically be a forced retirement. It would be the effective elimina-
tion of that job. I le pointed out a number of reasons why a public safety direc-
tor is needed.
I. The timing was absolutely perl'cct. The police chi ef retired and the tire
chiefs retirement is imminent.
2. Cost savings or approx imately $25.000 a year.
3. One-man leadership in both departments was to the advantage of the
city. The city is looking for a good strong management. The city needs
new management for the 80s and 90s because the demands are differ-
ent.
Fi refighters contended that the ultimate goa l was to consolidate the police
and fire department and cross train personnel between the two departments.
The city wou ld then gel rid or the rescue unit and institute a volunteer fire de-
partment and a visible police department.
A pol ice ofticer responded that he couldn ·t sec himself on top or a ladder
hanging over Thil many some place. Police officers would have to train on hun-
dreds of chemica ls used at the mill and had no training as firefighters. Fire-
fi ghters wanted no pa rt orca rrying a gun.
The council voted unani mously to put the referend um for a Publ ic Safety
Director on the November 1982 ba llot. There wasn't enough time and the refer-
endum issue was dropped . A II.er seven months or forums and individual speak-
ing engagements, the issue would be resolved at the April 1983 voting pol ls.
The summary 01· the pros and co ns !o r and aga inst the referendum were
listed in the area newspapers. "The matter boils down to whether people want
a system of adm ini stration which wi ll presumably save the city money - which
Mayor Ronald Van De I fey cla ims- or whether they want to stick with the pre-
sent system of individua l Fire Department and Police Department Chiefs. Fire-
men and policemen clai m that the presen t system should remain the way it is.
and say that there arc other methods 0 1· saving tax money.
" Firefighters cite reasons or in-station maintenance of equipment and fac il-
ities. training, fire preventi on, pre-lire pl anning, non-fi re emergency duties, and
actual tire duty as some or the arguments aga inst a public sa fety director's post
and combined departments.··
The referendum to hire a safety director was defeated by a more than 2 to I
margin in the April 1983 election.
Firefighters in 1982 orfered to ha ve their wages remain the same.
May 1983 n firefi ghter who len the department for the Appleton Fire De-
partment cited the instabil ity in the Kaukauna Fire Depa rtment and higher sa la-
ries offered else\\'here. The Kaukauna Fire Department had lost three men
180
through retirement, layoff and resignatio n. One of the problems was Lhere was
no full-time inspector. The assistanl chief was currcnLly assigned the job of in-
spector when scheduling permitted it.
The city council was critical or the number or vehicles the fire department
sent to all ca lls, including minor cal ls. The fire department responded thaL often
the department didn ' t know what it was goi ng to lind al an acc iden t scene; the
fire truck not only carried firem en who were paramedics or EIVITs but it might
be necessary to use the truck if there was a f't1el spi ll.
Overti me problems caused by a shortage o r paramedics was al leviated
when in 1985 the Police and Fire Comm iss ion approved hiring one paramedic/
firefighter and building up a list or applicants for possible ruturc openings.
From the list the commissioners picked eighL of the 14 who applied for the job.
In 1989 Chief Jansen combined Lhe position or assistanl tire chief with the
job training officer. Bud Gadow, assistant fire chief, was assigned as paramedic
program coordinator in addition to his assistant chief duLies. Tha t allowed all
shifts to be trained the same by one indi vidual. The reorgani zation was made
poss ibl e by the retirement of AssisLant Chier Everelte Bovee. Some department
members were in favor of the job change, whi le others were aga inst it.
The Kaukauna Fire Department' s rescue boat was used for Lhc first time in
July 1981 when it was needed to transport a youth stranded near the I000 is-
lands area. Douglas Vcrkuiilen. 14. was swinging on a rope auached to a frame
above a dam on the Fox Ri,·er channel near the Outagamie County garage on
Maple Street. The rope slipped or broke as the youth was swinging, and he fell
onlo bedrock below the dam, sustaining a head injury and a fractured wrist. A
friend with Verkuilan went to the Environmental Center and summoned the
city's rescue squad, and led firefi ghters into the island area via a narrow spill-
way dam. They later summoned the boat aner determining that it wou ld be dif-
ficult to carry Verkuilen from the island. The boat was launched and recovered
the boy. The small boal had the capacity to carry seven (ircfighters and the in-
jured youth from the dam.

Major Fires 1980 - 1989


L Residence at 426 W. Seventh Street
On February 16, 1981 , the Kaukauna Fire Department responded to a fire
at the Robert Schmidt home. The entire two-story struclure was in flames. Rob-
ert Schmidt was found lying in the snow bank by the curb. He suffe red a bro-
ken left leg and broken ri ght wri st when he jumped f'rom a second story bed-
room window. Roberts was awakened by a smoke alarm . He atlemptecl to exit
the home by the stairway, which was in flames and f'ull or smoke. That' s when
he broke his bedroom window and crawled to the front call ing for help. A
neighbor fo und Schmidt and turned in the alarm.
The owner's dog died in the lire. According to Chief Sm its, the fire started
in the area of the east wall of the li ving room and quick ly spread through

18 1
the structure.

2. A p artm en t Building 2 17 Yi W. Th ird S treet


The Robert Natrop Jr. apartmcnL almost across Lhc sLrcd from the Kaukau-
na Fire Department was destroyed by tire o n May I 0, 198 1. Natrop notified
firelighters after knocking on lhe department windows, bccausc the fire had de-
stroyed his telephone. Three lrucks responded lo lhe 4:53 a.111. lire and I I fire-
fighters were later called to lhe scene. The apartment was burned out, and
there was heavy smoke damage in what rema ined and heavy water damage in
the apartment of Fred Fi scher below. Natrop lost his dog in the fire and most of
his furniture.
At 11: 13 a.m. the fire Oared up again: this time in the auic area. Firefight-
ers remained at the scene until about I: I 0 p.rn. that afternoon. Smits indicated
that it probably started in an overstuffed sofa.

3. Ka ukauna T imes on Ma in Street near the corner of Main & north eas t
co rne r of Third S treet
Fire destroyed the linolypc room and composing room areas at the
Kaukauna Times building on June 7. 1981. at 2:30 a.m. unday. The fire was
reported by a citizen who li ved a hair block away and heard an explosion.
When the citizen looked out he could see llames shooting from the Time·s
building.
firefighters responding to the blaLe at the newspaper building entered
through the compos ing room picture window on Main A ven ue as well as
through a side door. Later, they used a deluge nozzle on the department ·s 75 -
foo t aerial ladder truck to d irect water onto the rnor. Firemen later went onto
the roof to extinguish the names.
The fire spread through the I inoty pe room and composing room areas. The
fact that it was burning in the atti c, a fo ur foot high space. made it difficu lt for
firefighters to contain. It took approx imatel y li ve hours lo completely extin-
guish the blaze. Bil low ing dark smoke poured over the downtown area. The
blaze destroyed about 40 percent or the building.
Firefighters ran hose lines from as far away as Crooks Aven ue in order to
obtain water. The Times had been operat ing out or its Main /\venue location
since 1933. The destroyed ponion o r the bu ilding was rebuilt in I 933 after a
fi re. Origi nall y in its 1800 version, the structu re had second lloor living qua r-
ters.
Four additions were built to it in the early nineteen l'orti es. T he present
office on the corner, prev iously occupied by Larry's Piggly Wiggly Store. The
build ing was not rebui lt. Today the site is a park ing lot.
Three firefighters sustained minor injuries while ballling the li re. Assistant
Chief Everette Bovee suffered a burn to his right ha nd. Capt. Joseph Gasper
sustained a cut over his right eye and Driver-Engineer James Kiffe received a
burn on his back. They were treated by emergency medical technicians at the
scene.
182
Losses from Lhe rire and water damage included three linotype machines
and some of The Times' electronic typesetting equipment. Computerized
equipment in the composing room included two typesetting uniLs and three vid-
eo display terminals. All or the equipment was damaged but not destroyed.
The sta le lire marshal investigated and fo und no cause for the ti re wh ich caused
$ 100.000 ($252.295 today) da mage.

4. Res idence 507 Whitney Street


On Jan uary 11. 1982. fi refighters received a call from Norm Me inert. He
reported seeing the glow of tire and a flash in the front bedroom of the Lee
apartment in the northeast corner of the house.
Hue Lor and a neighbor. Dan Doering, attempted to gel other members of
the family out. Lor entered the house and helped Lee, his mother. to a window
and Doering helped her out or the house. His two brothers and sister also fl ed
th rough the window on the east side of the house.
Two trucks responded to the lire. Later a th ird truck and 11 more firefight-
ers were ca lled in. When the fird ighters arrived, they saw fl ames coming from
all the front l"irst fl oor wi ndows and from the front door, and names were also
visib le upsta irs. They had the li re under control in an hour and a half but fire-
fighters said they were sti ll extinguishing flames in various hot spots at 5 a.m.
They remained on the scene unti l mid-morning.
Temperatures of -7 degrees put an added burden on firefighters. They re-
porled that some of the air packs they used to enter the home were apparently
affected by the seven degree below zero weather. Chief Smits reported that all
of the department 's equipment worked we ll despite the cold. Along with the air
packs, fi relighters used a generator and exhaust fan in extinguishing the fire and
laid three hose lines . Cause o r the lire was unknown.

5. Bottom Half Clothin g Store 156 W. Wisconsin AYenue


On May 4. 1982. the Bollom Ha lf clothing store was destroyed by fire.
The tire depa11me111 received the alarm at 6:38 p.m. When firefighters a1Tived
minutes later heavy. black smoke was billowing from the rear of the building.
The build ing burst into names when ftreftghters ventilated it to prevent an ex-
plosion.
Fourteen Kaukauna lireli ghtcrs and two civilian vol unleers working with
two lrucks in front or the building and one in the rear brought the fire under
control at about 11 p.m. Arter it became apparent the building could not be
saved, firefighters concentrated the ir efforts on preventing the fire fro m spread-
ing to the lwo adj acent bui ldi ngs, Pizza Stop ll on the East and King's Variely
Store on the west. Both stores received some smoke and water damage.
After the fire was brought under control, firefighters stayed on lhe scene
until about 3: 15 a.111. lo prevent smoldering embers from re-igniting. After fi re-
fig hters left, a young man entered the store and ran off wi th several jackets. He
was not apprehended. Faul ty wi ring was the cause of the li re. Don Grissman,
owner of the Bollom Hall: sa id the building was a total loss. I le estimated the
183
loss at $150,000 ($356,295 today).
King's built an addition in this spot. Grissman moved his slore Lo the
south side but later purchased the King's bu ilding fo r his business, now named
Midwest Workwear.

6. Garage a nd Car 212 John Str eet


On December 7, 1982, fire destroyed a north side garage and a car being
painted inside. A container of paint thinner tipped and spi lled . The thinner was
igni ted by a nearby wood burning stove and the blaze spread through the struc-
ture.
Firefighters were called around 9:48 p.rn. and ultimately, th ree lire trucks
were on the scene. Firefighters indicated that along with fire extingui shers, two
hose lines and about 2.000 gallons of water were needed to quench the blaze in
the structure. An additional 12 men, including Chief Ted Smits, were called to
the scene.
The garage sustained wa ll and roof damage. Most of the contems, includ-
ing tools and the car, \.Vere destroyed by the fire.

7. Digester Room at T hilmany Pulp a nd Pa pc1· Compa ny on Thilm any


Road
Fire broke out in the digester room at Thilmany Pulp and Paper Mill on
February 1, 1984, at 2:30 p.111 . The fire was bel ieved to have been electrical in
nature and started in the pi vot part of the digester gea r area. The lire spread up
the outside of the No. 5 digester, one of six digesters at the mill which cook
wood chips to make pulp, and damaged some wiring, nearby wood flooring and
a staircase. Members of the mill fire brigade cut the power lines to baulc the
fire by the time firefighters arrived at the scene. A total of 13 firefighters, in-
cluding eight who were called in , had the tire under control after about an hour.
They remained on the scene nearly 3- 1/2 hours.
Peter Effa was in the office area when the fire broke out. He was check ing
to make sure all his men were accounted for when he became upset because he
couldn't find one man. When Effa left the building, he complained of chest
pain and went to the nurse·s office. He died of cardiac arrest at about 3:30 p.m.
No damage estimate for the fire was given.

8. Economy Shell S tation on the co rner of W isconsin Avenue and Lawe


Street
On February 4. 1984. tire broke out in a parts cleani ng lank al Horse's
Economy Garage. Sparks from a culling torch the owner was using went into a
basin of parts cleaning solvent thought 10 be non-flammable. The owner was
unsuccessful in extingu ishing the fire with an extinguisher and called the lire
department. The blaze spread to car and tires on a rack above the cleaning
tank, producing thick black smoke. Damage was estimated at SS,000 ($ 1 I,26 1
today).

18-t
9. Eddies Arcade and Upstairs Apart m ent 107 W. W isconsin Avenue
On March 9. 1985, fire destroyed Eddie's Arcade and upstairs apartment.
Firefighters were ca lled to Shirley Tohak·s apartment above Eddie's Ar-
cade at 6:53 a.m. She ran to the tavern to phone the fire department after an-
other building resident unsuccessfully tried to extinguish the names. A passer-
by saw the smoke coming from the second story or the bui lding and notified
firefighters. Four Kaukauna Fire Depanment trucks were on the scene and an
air truck from the Town of Menasha fire Department was also called to the fire.
Inside the building, the fire got between the walls and into the attic which
made it hard lo get at. The fire was never completely out until after the roof
col lapsed and fc l I into the first floor. Firefighters had to try to get through the
ceilings . When they knew they couldn't save the bui !ding. the firefighters tried
to protect the next-door building. One firefighter. Robert Nack, suffered a
wrenched back in suppressing the blaze.
Tom Giordana. owner of Tommy G's, repo11ed smoke and water damage
to the upsta irs quarters, possible damage lo a newl y replaced root~ and a sma ll
amount of damage to the front of the bu ilding. There was also water damage in
the back game room of the tavern underneath, which had been remodeled less
than a year ago. Firefighters ascended Giordana's building lo attack the fire
next door.
The blaze was under control by 11 a.m. but firefighters remained at the site
until about 4 p.m. , hosing down the ruins, and washi ng debris from the streets.
The iron-sheathed bu i!ding was erected in the ea rly 1800s and had served
as a grocery store, shoe store and furniture store in its past. It survived a fi re in
1953 whi ch destroyed a building a few doors away and was damaged in a blaze
several years ago which destroyed the Corner Bar on the other side of Lawe
Street, now the site or the Heart of the Valley Chamber of Commerce. Cause of
the lire was a 5-ycar old boy playing with a cigarette lighter and accidently
started the fire.

10. Resid ence 2 12 E. Division Street


The Theodore Van Dyke residence was extensively damaged by fire on
Friday. May 3, 1985. The fire apparently started in the attic and was reported
by Rose Marie Van Dyke, who was at home al the time. Three Kaukauna Fire
Department units responded. Firefighters found the attic in names and the blaze
spread to the cedar shingles. The second and third fl oors of the home were de-
stroyed when the blaze caused the roof of the structure to co ll apse.
All off-duty lirefighters were summoned to the house. They were on the
scene until 4:30 p.m. One fi refighter. Tom Jansen, was treated for an eye injury
and released from Kaukauna Community Hospital. Attic wiring near the chim-
ney was to blame in the fi re.

185
11. Ga rage at 801 Oviatt Street
On November 13, 1986, cold, gusty winds clidn ' t help Kaukauna fire fi ght-
ers shortly after I r.m. when they were called lo fighl n blaze in a garage owned
by Marv in Al ger at 80 I Oviatt St. T he fire appeared lo have started near a
wood burning stove. There was damage to the contents in the smoky blaze.
which included two cars.

12. Former War·ehouse between 324 Taylor Street and Railroad Str eet
On February 14, 1987, fire caused extensive damage to a former ware-
house fac ility. The north end or the building behind the home of James Jansen
was extensive ly damaged. Firefighters were able to remove a number or motor-
cyc les and a truck inside the south end or the building. Firefighters prevented
the blaze from spreading to the rest of the shingle-sided \\'OOd structure. The
damaged portion contained buil ding materials and shop tools. Firefighters con-
tended with thick smoke fan ned by the wind. Firdighters had to use ai r packs
to get close to the fire and used generator-powered li ghts to see into the bui ld-
ing.
The fire started \\'hen youths playi ng beneath the bui lding. which was bui lt
on concrete pilings, li t various materials and acc identally igni ted the nooring
abo,·e. The flames spread into the walls and the area above. and firefighter had
to cut away both the asphalt siding and the inner tin lining to extinguish the fire
above. The fire department spent about lour hours on the scene and cal led in
six additiona l men. >Jo dol lar amount or damage was ava ilable.

13. Vacant Resid en ce 807 Draper Str eet


or
A short circuit in wiring in the noor a home was listed as the cause or a
tire which swept through the upper floor or a vacant house early Friday on Oc-
tober 2. 1987. The ti re was reported at 2:58 a.rn. and extens ively damaged the
unfinished allie area and tirst fl oor ceiling, as well as Lhc upper floorin g. T he
ceiling, siding and roo f of the house, was extensive ly damaged. All of the fire
depa11111enl's trucks responded, and nine additional lircfi ghters were cal lee! in .
No injuries were reported.
The home, owned by Ethel Wellstcin. had been vacant for some time. A
ne ighbor reported the blaze.

14. Library at St. Mary's School on Seventh S ITcct n ext to S t. Mary's


C hurch
Extensi ve smoke damage resulted at St. Mary's School on December 7,
1987, when a candle used in a prayer service, was left burning and ignited
books in the library.
Teens in the cafeteria smelled smoke and evacua ted . The lire depa rtment
was called and extingui shed the fl ames in the library. Smoke from the smolder-
ing tire clogged the adjacent media center, and spread through a broken window
into the hallways and up into the gymnasium. Firefighters were at the scene for
two hours.
186
15. Residence 2808 Hendricks Avenue
The home of David Ribarchek burned Wednesday morning on March 2,
1988. A chi ld playing with a butane camp stove starter apparently ignited bed-
ding in a lower bedroom. The fire spread to an adjacent office, damaging both
rooms and their contents.

16. Ga rage 1121 Harrison Street


On October 2, 1988, around 6:30 p.rn., fire destroyed a garage and all its
contents when a blaze started in a snowmobile and spread to fuel, propane and
acetylene tanks stored in the structu re. One explosion occurred during the fire
when a tank blew up. Firefighters tried to cool down the tanks. The fire gave
firefighters a considerable amount of trouble because the entire upstairs of the
garage was filled with racing tires. Firefighters were on the scene from 6:35
p.m. until l 0:30 p.m. Two pumpers, the aerial truck and the rescue squad all
responded to the fire. Four off-duty firefighters were called in to assist the five
men on duly.

17. Two-Story Residence 920 W. T enth Street


On October 2 l, 1988, the home of Clarence Fink was extensively damaged
by fire. A friend of the family, Phil Maynard, discovered the lire and called the
department at about 7:23 p.m. Firefighters responded with three trucks and ex-
tinguished the flames with two hose lines. A dozen firelighters, including off-
duty men, were called to the scene. where they remained unti I about I0 p.rn.
The blaze spread from the first floor through the wal l to the second floor.
and ultimate ly, into the roof, causing extensive structural damage.

18. Residence 226 Sarah Street


On Januaty 10, 1989, an ember which appeared to have smo ldered fo r over
two hours following a minor fire was thought to be the cause of a second blaze
which gutted the rear of a north side home. The house of Charles Huss sus-
tained heavy damage. including a gutted kitchen, burned upstairs areas and ex-
tensive smoke damage in the blaze. The fi re was finally extinguished by fire-
fighters at about 4:45 a.rn. Wednesday. Firefighters found old wiring nailed to
a rafter burning amid the beams in the basement ceiling, below the kitchen
floor. They extinguished the blaze with an extinguisher. Later firefighters cut
away the chatTed area to ensure that there were no hot spots.
At 12:49 a. rn. Wednesday a passerby reported to po lice that there was a
tire in the home and firefighters responded. When they a1Tivccl. names cou ld be
seen coming from the roof. Fire \,Vithin an interior 'mil had spread through the
kitchen and a bedroom, and upward to the roof. It was engul red when the
Kaukauna Fire Department arrived. There ,,·ere flames corning out of the back
side of the house. There were two levels of roofing and there were flames corn-
ing out of both of them.
It was possible that a burning ember from the burned beam in the basement
mi ght have been blown into a wall cavity near an air duct by the pressure from
187
the extinguisher. It may have smo ldered until furnace ai r flowed through the
duct, or unti l it ignited other wood. The ho use was a tota l l os~ .

19. Two Apartment Residence 40 I Park Street


On January 18, 1989, the residence at 40 I Park St. was extensively dam-
aged by fire and water damage. The fi re started in a closet in the lower apart-
ment unit occupied by the Henry Close fami ly. The llames spread from the
closet to a nearby clothes chute, which acted like a c himney. The blaze spread
through the second story and into the attic fillin g the upper rooms with dense
smoke. Firefighters used self-conta ined air packs to enter the res idence and the
smoke was dense enough that they had to use Po li ce Explorers to shuttle back
and forth between the scene and the department getting the tanks refi Iled. Fire-
fighters used two portab le generators and lights to see inside the bui lding. The
fire continued to spread to an upstairs unit occup ied by Teri Brogan and her
daughter. Brogan went downstai rs when she smelled smoke and was told by
Mrs. Close that she was attempting to put o ut a sma ll fi re in the closet wi th a
fire extinguisher. Brogan repo1ted the fire to authorities. Accord ing lo fire
department officials. the Closes Jost all of the ir belongings and the Brogans lost
most of theirs. Neither was covered by insurance .

20. Garage 713 Grignon Street


The Dennis Hietpas residence was severely damaged by lire on February
21, 1989. Wood and paper. along with drain o il thought to be mixed with some
gasoline in it was used to light the stove. The hot coa ls ignited the mixture
quickly and the fumes ignited and flared up. lt spread to the fi ve-gallon con-
tainer of waste liquid, which spi lled on the noor, and the blaze spread Lo the
wood fran1e walls and the contents inc luding burning out the interior or a car in
the garage. The fire did not spread to the house.

21. Boys Rescued from Fox River by Helicopter near T housa nd Isla nds
Three boys began an inner-tube ride about 2:30 p.m. on June 2, 1989, on
the rain-swollen Fox Ri ver and became stranded on an island severa l hundred
feet upstream near 1000 Islands. Norma lly, the island can be reached by walk-
ing from shore through water ankle-deep at most. Po lice Chier William Apple-
ton called for the Theda Star heli copter when it became apparent conventiona l
water rescue attempts wou ldn ' t work in the swift current.
The boys were joined on the island about 5 p.m. by para medic .lay Dah l,
who was dropped from the helicopter and suffered mino r injuries after getti ng
caught in his harness in the swift current. Dahl fitted each boy with life vests
and tethered them together prior to the airli ft. Theda Sta r pulled the last boy to
safety shottly after 6:30 p.m.
The city experienced a power outage after authorities ordered closure or 5
dam gates in a futile attempt to slow dovvn the water current al the island. Waler
was diverted through the city water and electric uti lity channe ls Lo damage gen-
erators and cause an outage. The utility offices and garage were also llooded.
188
Bottom Half Clothing Store

Photos courtesy of T roy Jansen

189
Bottom Half Clothing Store Fire

Car and Garage 2 12 .John Street

Photos t:n urlcsy or Kau kauna T i mt:~

190
Residence 507 Whitney Street

PhoLOs courtesy of Troy Jansen


191
1990 - 1999 Decade
The 1990's decade saw industrial and residential development in the City
of Kaukauna increase. This growth increased the responsibi lit y of the Kaukau-
na Fire Department to provide protection to a growing com munity. Staffi ng
became a major issue along with the allempt lo maintain the ::imbulance service
in the black whi ch did not happen.
Pub lic protection and sa fe ty accounted f'o r one-third 01· the fire department
budget. Out of that amount , one out o!' six dollars was spent on lire a nd ambu-
lance service.
For abou t $85 of their taxes. city residents received a f'ull-time professional
firefighting force, an excellent ambulance service and an emergency rescue
team available 2417.
Devastating fires were few in the 90s and the Kaukauna Fire Department
increased their services provided 10 the community. Sarety and fire prevention
became a major concern. The lircfi ghters taught fire safety lo sc hool children
through a series of programs. They displayed their fire pro tection clothing, fire
and resc ue trucks. and rescue equi pment. Children learned what firefi ghters di d
and how they could help when reporting a lire or accident. Safety in homes \\·as
stressed. especially identifying t\\O escape routes in their homes. During Fire
Prevention Week the fire chief published an annual fire safety message. The
Kaukauna Fire Department participated in fire safety and medical care Lo fourth
graders during the annual Kaukauna Community Hospital I leallh Fair.
A video program Nerer. Ne 1·er. Play 11"i1h Matches was geared toward kids.
ages 3 and 4. Firefighters brought a b::ig or tools and toys into the classroom
and Look eac h item out one at a time, asking the children if it was a too l or a Loy.
Some parents called the fire department and scheduled a visit to the depa rt-
ment with their children . The lire li ghters gave them a tour and ex plained the
equipment and the importance or ti re sa fety in the home.
The tire department purchased a video e ntit led Practice for l[/e: Slife Es-
cape f or Senior Citi::ens and the disabled.
Classes in First Aid. CPR and the use or lire extinguishers were ofTered to
various groups.
Firefighters offered pub lic blood pressure cl inics and guvc llu shots and
allergy immuni zations to the elderly .
They conducted training in the use or an autonrnled dc librillalor (A ED) for
various businesses, organizations and Thilmany Pulp and Paper Mill. The use
of the AED saves precious time fo r ca rdiac arrest victims before Lhe paramedics
arrive.
The fire departmen t was ca lled upon to stand by for many publi c runctions
such as concerts in Central Park, the Grignon Home's annual Civil War En-
campment, and Sidewalk Sale Days. In their spare time the fire lighters repaired
and mainrained the equipment and shoveled snow away fi·om lire hydrants. ll
was impossible to clear all the fire hydrnnts so the department asked res idents to

192
·'adopt a fire hydrant" and help shovel snow away.
T he first woman firefighter was hired in 1991. Six applicants were inte r-
viewed by the Poli ce and Fire Commission. Based on the interview, written
tests and psycholog ical and physical examinations the process was narrowed
down to two women. Deborah Derber was hired. Prior to j o ining tbe Kaukauna
Fire Department, Derber, a paramedic and licensed practica l nurse, "vorked fo r
Gold Cross ambulance and an ambulance in No1t h Fond du Lac.
Derbcr had filed a sex discrimination suit against the City of Fond d u Lac
stemming from her job application there with the fire department.
The Kaukauna Fire Department worked a 24-hour s hi ft and Derber slept in
the same donnitory as the men. The on ly change made was to put a lock on the
bathJOom door. The lone female firefi ghter enjoyed the challenge and didn ' t
mind being least senior on her sh ift. Most of the men within the Kaukauna Fire
Department accepted her as a co-worker. Debbie resigned at the end o f the year
afler winning her sex discrimination claim. She was rehi red by the Fond du Lac
Fire Department.
Kaukauna Fire Chief Tom Jansen started off the I 990 new year by putting
a greater emphasis on trai ning procedures, and in combination with this, the
Police and Fire Commission named fo rmer paramedic coordinator Bud Gadow
as the department's new assistant chief.
The program was needed because there was at least one new firefighter on
each of the department' s tlu-ee shifts, and several retirements were imminent
wh ich meant that more new firefigh ters/ paramedics would join the department.
Jansen noted that there wouldn ' t be a new fire inspector appointed fo r the
time being. Instead, firefighters wou ld work in two-man teams to inspect
Kaukauna buildings. usi ng the inspections as a training exercise to learn build-
ing layouts, and special needs or hazards if any of the buildings became a lire or
emergency scene.
Gadow explained that the training curriculum would ce1tify all of the de-
partment's personne l at the level of Firefighter J, a c urriculum determined by
the National F ire Academy. The training was to make fireme n more profic ient
at inspection and fire suppression, and with this system, all methods wou ld be
standardized. This would be a benefit w ith the Kaukauna depa1tment and other
valley departments having mutual aid agreements in the event of a serious fire
or other major emergency. Each complement of firefighters would know how
to run other departments' equipment.
At the March 19 council meeting Mayor Van De Hey threatened to veto the
additional staff since the council hadn ' t investigated alternatives. T he city was
facing a loss in state aids for the com ing year and needed to watch expenses.
The State Department oflndustry. Labor and Human Relations issued new
mini mum standards fo r a tire department which were scheduled to go into effect
April I . One req uirement was that at least fi ve firefighters be on a fire scene
before anyone would be allowed to enter a burning building. At the time the
Kaukauna Fire Department had five firefi ghters on duty only during the day

193
shift and that number was reduced ..vhen men were on vacation or sick . Fire
Chief T homas Jansen said the cost of hiring and equipping three firefighters,
one fo r each shift, would be $12 1,398 for the first ful l year. Tf the depa1tment
met the standards simply by paying overtime to existing firefighters the cost
would be $135,676 a year. Another option, paying firefi ghters to be on call,
would cost S3 1,000 annually.
The city council was hesilanl to hi re additional firefighters because the
source of the money to pay the salaries wasn't known. Mayor Van De Hey said
that the ci ty faced cuts in shared revenue and there was no money in the budget
for the added personnel. He wou ld not support hiring more firefighters until the
city had looked at the alternatives. On three occasions over the last year, no fire
personnel could be called in when rescue or fire equipment went out and fire-
fighters were on vacation or off for other reasons.
"We need five people at a fire scene," Jansen responded. Assistant Chief
Bud Gadow and the fire chief's presence at a fire would not satisfy Depai1rnent
of Indus try, Labor and Human Regulations (DJLHR) requirements. The new
DILH R regulations called for fou r firefighters at a structural fire; two would
enter the building with air-packs, and two would back them up outside, while
the fifth wou ld keep track of which firefighter is where. Fire fi g hters noted that
one must also be a member of the department's safety committee.
Firefighter Paul Hirte said that " the problem is getting five firefighters to
the scene, adding that if only four arrive we must sit waiting for a minimum of 5
firefighters before firefighting can begin ."
The manpower issue was not reso lved under Mayor Yan De Hey. ln No-
vember Mayor Neil Steinberg vetoed the common counci l's approval of the
hiring of three additional firefighters in I 992. Steinberg supported adding 15,
paid, on-call volunteers which wou ld give more available firefighters when
needed. He pointed out that other communities supplemented their full-time
staff in this manner. This would alleviate the impact of unnecessary, increased
use o f tax dollars. He noted that workers at the city's major employer
(Thilmany) have not had an increase in wages or benefits for three years and
other industries were suffering.
The cost of not hiring three people would be $64,000 in overti me, and hir-
ing three additional firefighters would cost~ 149,000. Aldermen s uggested that
the city would study the problem for a year and address the issue in the 1993
budget.
Mayor Steinberg stated that he was not anti-firefighter or anti-paramedic
but felt that there was an alternative to hiring three full -time lirefighters. Add-
ing 15 paid , on-call volunteers would provide more avail able lirefighters when
needed.
One alderman noted that the fire department operated with six on a shift
from 1974 to 1982 and the department was just trying to get back to where they
originally were. Aldermen disregarded Mayor Neal Steinberg's veto of hiring
three additional firefighters and recommended the hiring of three firefighters in
the budget.
194
At the November I 991 meeting, common counci l members. fol lowing a
lengthy and spirited budget hearing passed a $6.7 million budget which includ-
ed funds for three full-time firefighters. Once the I992 budget was approved,
Fire Chief Tom Jansen started to develop new staff procedures and polic ies as
the first phase of bringing department personnel into compliance with the new
state guidelines. The changes included employing up to 15 paid-on-ca ll auxilia-
ry ti re fighters
Eight paid-on-call firefi ghters were hired in Jul y 1992. They were Ron
Pyke, a welder at T hilmany-Divis ion of lnternatio nal Paper; Jeff Robedeaux,
Hietpas Welding: Bill Yanden l lcuvel. Tri-City Glass sales cstimaLO r; Brendon
McDaniel, U.S. Tire & Exhaust warehouse clerk; Eric Bigelow. Town & Coun-
try electrical assistant; Roger Court. K.R. West salesman; John Larson.
Asplundh Tree Co. foreman; and Peter Heinritz, Gustman Chevrolet mechanic.
Firefighters were paid SI 0 per ca ll and S I0 per hour while on duty. They
also got S6.50 per hour fo r twice-monthly training sessions and $400 per year.
Equ ipment was supplied by the city.
in November I 993 Aldermen approved add ing another seven paid-on-call
firefighte rs to bring the total to I 5, the number approved by the co uncil during
the previous budget session.
Rumors started 10 circulate that the mayor thought the fire department
should consist primarily with volunteer firefighters. In 1994 the firelighters
were upset with the Mayor's attempts to misrepresent their roles. Paid on Call
(POC) firefighters were not as well trained as full-time lirefighters. POC' s
wrote letters to the city council stating that the POC firefighters were not out to
bust the union and di d not apply fo r the position to take someone else's job or to
be used to boost anyone's politica l popularity.
"We are comfortable and committed in our role as backup, suppl emental
firefighters. We also believe that com munity safety wil l be enha nced by our
presence. But please keep this in the proper perspective. We arc onl y interest-
ed in making the City of Kaukauna a safer place to live. IL is time to set aside
political interest. in fa\'Or of community safety."
The base rate for an ambulance call for city residents was SI 00 and for non
-residents $370. Patients were billed for mi leage and suppli es the para medics
used. The problem was trying to collect the money from each run. In I994 the
fire department initiated computeri zed billing fo r ambulance and rescue runs in
order to collect past due bill s. The first month that notices were sent out the
department collected $] 5.000 in overdue accounts. This was doub le the amount
usual ly collected.
Another charge initiated was a $250 charge fo r non-residents who need the
ciry's Jaws of Life to remove them from a wrecked vehicle. The jaws had been
called out eight times so far in I995, more than the total from I985 to I 995 .
The county emergency 91 I system now notified Kauka una for more auto
accident cal ls. Most were in rural areas north of the city and on U.S. 4 1 and the
Tri-County Expressway (High way 44 I), Jansen said.
The Town of Harri son and Village of Sherwood contracted with Kaukauna
195
for service. If the rescue machine was needed in that jurisdiction, the munici-
pality pays the $250 fee and then recovers it l'rom the acc ident victims insurance
company. The $250 charge was for the three hours. /\dditional time was billed
at$ I00 per hour. Kaukauna residents arc exempt.
In January of 1994 the new Braun-Modu lar Type 111 ambulance was de!iv-
ered to the Kaukauna Fire Departmen t. The new ambulance cost $72.000
($113.565 today) and replaced the 1977 ambulance. The new ambulance had a
diesel-powered engine whic h was more rel iable.
The ambulance contained a mobil e monitor ca lled a Minipak 9 1 lS . The
unit, used in emergency rooms, allowed paramedics lo monitor patient 's blood
pressure, pulse and arterial pressure and saturated oxygen. Two-Lhirds or the
cost was paid fo r through the Kaukauna Fire Department memorial fo nd. This
memorial fund receives donations from chari table organizations. civic groups.
memorials, and general donations. The runds are applied towards equipment
purchases .
The 1977 ambu lance was taken out or service but wo uld be used !Or a tem-
porary support vehicle.
The 1995 fi re departmen t budget inc luded $450.000 (57 18.850 today) to
purchase a new aeria l fi re truck to replace the 75-IOot ladder truck which \\'as
o,·er 25 years old. Pierce Manufac1t1ring. Appleton. submilled the only bid fo r
$445.823. The final cost " ·as abou t $450.000. The 1995 aerial lire truck deliv-
ered in January 1996 was outfitted wi th a generator. modern sa fety features and
l 05-foot ladder with a tipl oad we ight or 500 pounds ancl wns Lo be used in res-
cue work.
Bill and Cindy Schmitt purchased the old ladder truck. The couple
planned to use the vehicle as lire protection fo r their house and Marina Bar, lo-
cated on lhe Fox Ri,·er. Schmilt also planned to use the truck for trimming trees
and riding in local parades.
Training during the 1990s inc luded certification and recertification in areas
of fire fighting and paramedics trainin g. Certification inc luded carclio pulmo-
nary resuscitation, advanced cardiac lif'e support and min i-pnc 9 1I.
Paramedics learned how to care fo r patien ts with hypcrthermia, otherwise
known as overexposure to heal. The training was important for River Jam fes-
ti vities held in Central Park behi nd the library . One summer day at Ri ver Jam
during extreme hot \veather paramedics treated over 50 people for heat cx haus-
Lion.
To learn a ll the variables in VighLing fires and to be hired at the Kaukauna
Fire Department, tirelighter/paramed il:s must go through 60 hours or Fire-
fi ghter! training plus an additiona l 36 hours for certification and 1,000 hou rs or
classroom, practical and c linical paramedic training.
An advanced Firefi ghter JI c lass, wh ich covers bu ild ing construction. the
effects of fire on common building mate rials and fire lighting construction haz-
ards, also was oJ'ferecl.
In 1995 commerc ial business owners. accustomed l o getting a burning

196
permit Lo dispose of waste materials. had Lo tind a different way Lo dispose of
them according lO state recycling laws thal went into effect January I. Contrac-
tors could no longer get a burning permit that was good for a year. The
Kaukauna Fire Depanment is cha rged with investigating all claims of illegal
burning.
Fire Chi ef Tom Jansen retired on December 31 , I 997, after 32 yea rs of
service. I le was appointed chief in 1989 follow ing Tom Roberts ' retirement.
Looking back Jansen noted that his proudest achievement vvas upgrad ing the
trucks and hoses and acquiring more emergency equipment.
Chie r Jansen joined the Kaukauna Fire Department at age 22. He was pro-
moted to dri ver in 1972, captain in 1979 and chief in I 989.
Robert Nack was appointed assistant lire chief in I 995 and fire chief Janu-
ary I. 1998. lack joined the Kaukauna Fire Department in 1974 when there
were 19 fu l1-time firefighters and one day person . the chief. Chier ack was
in volved wi th paramedic training and increased use of technology and the
monthly ambulance report.
The Poli ce and Fire Commi ssion promoted Paul Hirte to /\ssistanl Fire
chief in February 1998. Hirte, originall y from Waupaca, received his paramed-
ic traini ng at Northeast Wisconsi n Technical College in Green Bay and fire-
fighting trai ning at Fox Valley Technica l College. He was a Ce rtified Instructor
II and worked as an on-call instructor at FVTC.
Besides assisting with administrat ive duties, Hirte directed the operations
of the paramedic service, coordinated the department's fire inspection bureau
and pub!ic education prevention di vision, and served as the training oflicer for
the 15 on-ca ll firefighters.
Firefighter Jerald Kobussen retired. Hi s retirement ended three generations
of lirefi ghters from his famil y lineage.
Fo llow ing is the article pub lished in the Kaukauna Ti111es recognizing a
thirel gcnernti on fire fighter.
"Ed Ward. Jerry's grandfather, grew up in a Green Bay orphanage and
joined the KFD in 1922, just as it was being moved to a new municipal bui lding
at the bottom or the Lawe Street Bridge.
"Ward was one of the first full-l ime lire lighters to be hired by the city. He
worked as a pump operator, alongside seven fe llow firefighters. He married a
woman with a small son and became a stepfather.
"Gertrude's son was Wi Ibe rt '· Ko by" Kobussen, who later went on to serve
with the lire depa rtment for 26 years, retiring as assistant chief in 1974.
"Koby graduated from KH S and after milita1y service and some lime
working al a paper mill, he joined the lire department in 1949. There were just
two shirts back then, with s ix men working at a time. In the event or a big
snowstorm or an electrical storm, everybody was called in, Koby said.
"/\ trip in the ambulance was completely free then. Koby said, who was
also an ambulance driver. It didn ' t matter where you had to go. We went as far
away as Madison and Mayo Clinic.'"
".Just as Ko by had been a regul ar visitor at the fire departmenL, his son
197
Jerry was often at the station or riding along in the ambulance. Jerry didn 'l
mi nd his father's strange •..vork schedule because he was never for away.
"l've never thought much about his hours," Jerry sa id. I cou ld go down
there any time and eat with him or pi ck up the car."
Koby likes to ta lk about the good limes clown at the fire station where it
wasn't uncommon for members of the community to slop in and chat. Some-
times visitors took a minute to sample whatever was cooking on the stove.
Koby sai d he wil l always remember the big fires he helped fight. There
was the big blaze at the old Kaukauna Hotel in 195 1, whi ch had to be !ought
du ring a snowstorm. He also remembers fires al a basket facto ry, l'urniturc
building, and hardware store.
There were many more fires during Koby's career than are seen now par-
tially because of an improvement in build ing materials, he said.
Jn che final years of his career. Koby got the chance to welcome his son
onto the fire department. Jerry was hired in 1969 fulli ll ing a dream to fo llow in
his fa ther' s footsteps.
Jeffy always knew that he wanted to be a :fi refighter as a young boy allcnd-
ing Holy Cross Schoo l. He 1,vas classmates with Outagamie County Executi ve
Ron Van De Hey and Kaukauna Fire Chief Tom Jansen. he said.
After graduating from KHS and working at the Thilmany mill. Jerry
worked for a time with the Kaukauna Park Department. I le was happy when an
opening developed on the fire department.
"When I started. I was at the bottom of the totem pole, which means you
get to ride on the back running board of the truck ," .J erry sa id. " I was the one
who would connect the hose to the hydrant. I was also automatica lly put on
ambulance duty:·
By 1982. Jerry had studied to become a certified paramedic. joining the
ranks of others on the fire department. Cu1Ten1 ly. 13 of the 17 Kaukauna fire-
fighters are paramedics with the rest hav ing rece ived EMT or first responder
training," he said.
The number of minor tires was less than the prev ious decade. The major
causes were cooking grease fires. electrical. overheated rurnace and rubbish.

Major Fires 1990 - 1999

1. Residence 421 Plank Road


An overloaded electrical circuit was blamed for a lire that extensively dam-
aged a home on the city's north side Tuesday evening on February I. 1994.
Firefighters were called to the Mark Rabideau residence at 5:40 p.m. when
Rabideau found the breezeway between the house and garage engulfed in
flames. The fl ames crawled up a wa ll between the house and garage rind en-
tered an attic space. Firelighters extingui shed the tire within 30 minutes but
remained on the scene for four hours. State Highway 96 was closed for more
than three hours due to icy road conditions caused by firelighting acti vities. No

198
firefighters suffered frostbite in the subzero weather, but their ai r packs froze up
due to the co ld and made fighting the tire difficult. The men used about seven
air packs.

2. 1-112 Story Home 515 Lin coln Aven ue


On November 22, 1994, at about I :30 p.m. the rear rooms of the 1-1 /2 sto-
1y house were destroyed. There was smoke and water damage throughout the
house.
Kaukauna lire officials said 1he blaze started in a laundry room. A short
circuit in the control panel or a washing machine probably ignited clothing that
\\'aS piled near the \\'asher. After that. the fire spread rapidly. An upstairs bed-
room was also heavily damaged. The fire claimed the refrigerator, stove. coffee
maker and toaster. Damage was estimated at about $30,000 ($46,439 today).

3. Riverview Apa rtments 440 Bicentennial Court


On January 3 1, 1996, lirelighters worked in subzero temperatures that
froze their equ ipment and covered the ground and rooftops with glare ice,
formed from the spray of water hoses as they battled a fast spreading fire in one
wing of the Riverview apa rtments at 420 Bicentennial Court.
A resident on the second fl oor smelled smoke and cal led the li re depart-
ment at 6:55 a.m.
Patrol officer. Joe Rasche, the tirst on the scene, said smoke billowed from
a second-floor apartment. The firefighters evacuated the people by going from
apartment to apartment. More than 30 apartments were evac uated in both
wings. many occupied by elderly and handicapped individuals. others by young
residents.
The apartments comprise seve ral free-sta nding build ings, but two arc con-
nec ted by a common roor. The lire broke our in the smaller bui lding. Firefight-
ers worked fo r more than 3 hours to extinguish the fl ames \\'hich gutted the
smaller bui lding and its 12 to 16 apartment units. They cut holes in the roof and
then retreated as thick names roared from the opening. sending thick clouds of
smoke cast and north across the river.
Firefighters re-entered that building at 8: 15 a.rn. to rescue an elderly man
in a wheelchair. They were severely hampered by the biting cold and bystand-
ers helped them remove gloves that had frozen to their hands.
The Kauka una Fire Department, assisted by Little Chute firefighters,
stopped the flam es from traveling to the larger connected building. Us ing a
blow torch lo thaw out pipes was listed as the cause of the fire.

4. C onstructio n C rew Hits Gas Linc C r ooks Avenu e


On August 13, 1999, a state transportation depa1trnent crew in Kau kauna
was excavating on Crooks Avenue and struck a 2-inch gas line with a heavy
piece of machinery.
Police and fire department workers evacuated residents and employees
with in a block radius or the area and rerouted tratlic while gas company
199
workers tried to fix the problem.
The line, which emi ts about 55 pounds of pressure, was temporarily
capped until crews could fin d a more permanent so lution. The gas line was un-
marked and thought to be abandoned. The line formerly served customers who
lived in houses behind the Merit Bank site.
A nearby resident described heari ng a loud popping noise shortly after l: 15
p. m. fo llowed by a high-pitched hissing after the pipe was punctured. Six fi re-
fighters from the city' s fire department were sent to the scene. They evacuated
people in the Third to Seventh Street areas as a precaulion.
Wind gusts of l .5 miles per hour helped allev iate the danger by quickly
dispersing the natural gas.

5. Residence and T ruck 1605 Sunset Avenue


On November 23, 1999, fire caused $200,000 ($280,505 today) damage to
Robert Lust's home. Also destroyed were a boat, satellite and four cars. Of-
ficer Jamie Graff woke up Lust at 3 a.m. and got him out of the house. Fire-
fi ghters fought the battle fo r several hours. Arson was suspected.

Riverview Apartments

200
Counesy of Wayne Vancvenhoven

Torn Jansen and Bob Nack

~ ... .;!

.--
. . .~ . ·~ •

CourleS)
_,... l'- ._

or Jerry Kobusscn
' •

.......,. .
..

.., ..

I 97 1 Three generation photo: Fire lighter Wilben


"'Koby"Kobusscn wi th grnndchildren Kurt and Kay and
their fath er. Koby"s son .Jerry Kobusscn. who also was a
lire light1.:r/paramcdic
Truck is a Clintonville 4-Wheel Drive
500-gallon pumper truck

20 1
2000 - 2013 Decade
Fire Chief Robert Nack retired at December 31, 2004, aller 30 years or
service, including EMT and paramedic training. He was in vo lved in lighting
several major fires, two fires in which children died in the fire s. Chier Nack
updated all mutual agreements with neighboring fire departments. The depart-
ment purchased a new ambulance and converted the old ambulance into an Inci-
dent Command Vehicle. An old police squad car was converted into a fire de-
partment car. The ability to change signal lights as an emergency vehicle ap-
proached an intersection when on an emergency run was installed. The Zodiac
Rescue Boat and trai ler were purchased. Nack implemented the lire engine re-
sponse with the rescue squad fo r cardiac, stroke, diabetic, and trauma cal ls and
installed toughbook laptop computers into both rescue sq uads and fire truck.
The computers all owed the depa rtment to receive computer dispatches from the
Outagamie County Sheriff Department Dispatch Center.
The big question as 2000 neared was whether computers world-wide
would tum over to the year 2000 or crash. The fire department, city hnll and
police department prepared for the change. On New Year's Eve. Chief Nack,
Mayor Lambie. Police Chief Paul Morri s and Director of Publ ic Works/City
Engineer John Sunde lius spent the night at the command post in city hall. The
year 2000 entered without any problem.
The 2000 decade saw a decrease in minor and major fires and an increase
in emergency calls. In 2000 there were 38 fire ca lls. The two main culprits
were structures and brush and leaf fire s. Ambulance ca ll s totaled 496 with 486
calls requiring advanced life support. Three years later air1bu lance ca lls were
766. Fifty-six of chose calls were back-to-back runs with one squad taking the
first run and the ocher squad taking the second run.
Following the September I I, 200 I terrorist attacks on the U.S.. Fi re Chier·
Robert ack and Police Chief Paul Morse told ciry officials that they were pre-
pared for any type of terrorist act that could occu r. The entrance to the police
department and fire department was made more secure. People who have to
enter can call the dispatch by entering a 4-digit number on the phone posted by
the entrance. The fire departmem's disaster plan and Outagami e Cou nty anti-
terrori sm plan was updated in spring. The department would be involved in any
situations dealing with hazardous material s. such as anthrax.
Fire Chief Robert Nack noted that as the city grew the department was
faced \\'ith an increased number of calls, longer response tirne and space needs.
The need for a second fire station " as brought up agai n. Possibilities cen tered
around building two new fire stations. Nack would have liked to see one station
near Delanglade and Lawe Streets on 11 ighways 55 and 00 and another at
Highway 55/CE. Bui lding al these areas would provide fou r-m inute responses
to the center of town and outlying areas.
The chief stated that if they got an ambu lance ca ll on the south side while
doing inspections in the industri al park, resr onse time would be longer. Two

202
fire department stations would provide an engine and ambulance on both sides
of the river. The city did not pursue the fire station issue in the early 2000s.
The city had a 64 percent growth in increased acreage. Since 1991 the
population increased by 2,907 residents. Housing units increased by 41 percent.
The number of employees in the north side industrial park increased 166 per-
cent from 1995. In the last 10 years fire inspections went up 77 percent, engine
responses 31 1 percent and ambulance calls 54 percent.
On January 3, 2005, Assistant Fire Chief Paul Hirte was appointed fire
chief. Hirte had been with the department since 1983. He was appointed assis-
tant fire chief in 1997. In 2009 Hi1te was appointed to the East Central Wiscon-
sin Regional Planning Commission.
Captain Don Grindheim vvas named the new assistant fire chief.
The next time the issue of a second fire station surfaced was in 2006. Fire
Chief Paul Hirte addressed the Public Protection and Safety Committee on the
areas of concerns which included response time, staffing and space needs.
According to the National Fire Protection Association and the American
Heart Association, arrival on scene for response calls needs to be within five
minutes from dispatch fo r a patient to have the best chance of survival. In 2004
the Kaukauna Fire Department met those responses 80 percent of the time. In
2005 , the department was down to 73 percent of the time. Hirte said that from
the downtown department, actual response times within the city vary from six to
eight minutes.
Chief Hirte indicated that it would be necessary to hire two additional fire
fighters per shift. Six new firefighters would cost $461 ,441.
Additional storage was needed for training, records and vehicle storage.
No new equipment was needed. One engine and one ambulance would be lo-
cated at each site. The ladder truck, inflatable boat and tactical support unit
wou ld be stored at the no1th side station.
Mayor Gene Rosin distributed a feasibility study by Short, Elliott, Hen-
drickson, Inc. of Appleton. The study supported a north side fire station at 91 l
Delanglade Street. Estimated cost was $2.8 million for an existing build ing or
$4,044,555 if a building needed to be constructed.
Kaukauna officials made an offer to purchase the 3.65 acre site at 911
Delanglade Street. The offer was accepted on October 6, 2005. The site includ-
ed a 7,095 square foot faci lity built in 2002.
The final decision was the same as the one made in the 1970s however the
matter was tabled and the new fire station put on hold.
In 2005 Chief Hirte presented new job descriptions and organization chart
to the city council. The council approved the new positions as non-union jobs
and eliminated two union slots in the process. Three new union positions of
lieutenant/paramedic were created.
The new assistant chiefs would be responsible for emergency medical ser-
vices, special operations and maintenance of vehicles and equipment.
Four new assistant fire chiefs are at the helm at the KFD. Gene Prellwitz,
24-hour assistant chief on C shiH and training and special operations, Craig
203
Schneider, 24-hour shi n supervisor on A shift and paramedic coordinator, Don
Grindhei111, day ass istant chief and paramedic director, who is also in cha rge of
fire prevention inspections; and Ray Molu-, the 24-hour assistant chief on B
shift, who is in charge of maintenance and equipment. Lt. Doug Bartelt is the B
shift second in command, and Lt. Glen Bubolz as second in command on C
shift at the KFD.
Lack or adequate coverage continues to exist, especially during vacations
and ambulance runs. Travis Teesch, firefighter and president of the Ii re lighter's
union, voiced his concern to the Public Protection and Safety Committee.
"The department is working with five people for each of three shifts. If
two are out on an ambulance call and a fire call comes in , the department is
short-handed. The standard states that four firefighters are needed at the scene
of a foe, except in the case where a structural fire is in the initial or beginning
stage and can be controll ed or ex tinguished by portable fire extinguishers. The
department does have 15 paid on-call firefighters, who act as a support system
when they are needed. They are, however, not full-time firefighters and work
other full-time jobs. Otten they are out of the city limits vvhen calls come in and
they must travel back, which takes time."
Tesch asked to add three new personnel, one per shift.
Paul Hirte told the Public Protection and Safety Committee that the num-
ber of paid on-call firefighters had stayed at 15 since the early I990s. He saw
the total eventuall y reaching 25.
The cormnittee approved increasing the paid-on-call firemen from 13 to 18.
Once 18 was attained, the department would evaluate whether additional growth
was necessary.
Chief Hirte continued to apply for grants. In 2005 the firefighter grant pro-
gram awarded the Kaukauna Fire Depa11rnent $98,984 for the purchase of self-
contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), air compressor and fill station. The sys-
tem is high pressure and provides more air for the firefighter in a Iighter compo-
site bottl e. The fill station and air compressor provided the department with
equipment that meets industry standards for firefighter safety wh ile working
with a high pressure system.
Health and wellness is a significant part of a firefighter 's duty. The fire
department instituted hea lth and wellness programming and received a $62, I 87
grant to provide for medical surveillance, job duty clearance, immunizations
and the purchase of exercise equipment. Today exercise, nutrition, and healthy
lifestyle choices are part of the firefighters tour of duty.
Tn 2007 the lire department switched the city's model lire code from the
2000 version ol·' the International Fire Code to the 2005 edition. The national
code is more stringent.
The Kaukauna Fire Department received a grant of S64,3 I6 in 2007 for the
replacement and upgrade of firefighter tum out gear (PPE) and the replacement
of two them1al imaging cameras. The existing gear was worn and beyond re-
pair. The thermal imaging cameras were no longer functional and new teclrnol-
ogy had surpassed the ab ility to repair the cameras. Later in the year, the
204
department received another grant or $53,304 for the addition of a 12-lead heart
monitor/defibrillator in the ambu lance. In addition the fire department pur-
chased a trench rescue system. shoring extensions. beams, and impact tools
which al lows the department to fully function at a building collapse and to enter
a trench for rescue purposes.
Jn 20 12 the fire chief proposed utilizing upper level space in the garage
space by addi ng a mezzanine storage area for $30,000 to $40,000. This would
allow on-call firemen to store their gear at the station. rather than taking it home
each time they worked. The plan was approved by the Board of Public Works.
Fire department personnel assisted with the painting. shelving and reorganiza-
tion of the area.
At the same time the department was in need of a large. very sturdy dining
table to accommodate the firefighters at meal time and for meetings. Chief
Hine was unable to tine! a vendor that could provide the desired table within
budget. That's when a 'labor of love' took place. On off-duty tii11e, the fire-
fighters bui lt. a custom made dining tab le from red cedar and black walnut. Tn
the top of the table was embedded a pair of axes, a department emblem, and
four sprin kler heads from area bu~incsses . A plaque hand carved by Kaukauna
resident. Leo Driessen, in I 980 was deteri orating: the top part was salvaged and
included in the top. The top was covered with plate glass and is definitely the
focal point for meals and meetings.
When interviewed about the tra ini ng the firefig hters complete, Paul Hirte
stated that "Trai ning includes on-shift training and has expanded greatly over
the years. We have a variety or breathing apparatus, manifold, and breathing air
lines. We also have a variety 01· retri eva l devices and personal protective gear.
We enter various conlined spaces at least two times per year. Training includes
the use of all eq uipment with various simulated emergem:ies. We begin with
proper permit processes and also annual medica l and respirator surveillance
testing.
"Trai ning today is primarily conducted on duty and during a regular as-
signed shift. There is an assistant fire chief assigned to manage each shift in-
cluding the paid-on-call firelighters. These Assistant Fire Chiefs rypically pro-
vide the training. Training is also prov ided to the paramedics by Fox Valley
Technical College (FVTC). The EMS training is conducted monthly. There are
also cases where staff attends a train-the-trainer class. The employee obtains
specifi c training and then app lies that training to the remaining firefighters.
''W hen we get a new recruit we have a specific outline and provi de training
for entry level firefighting tactics and techniques and we assure a complete un-
derstanding of our standard operating guidelines and procedures. All employ-
ees receive specific training for fire inspection processes. mobile data entry,
record/report recording. We also routinely train for special operations, fire-
fighting tactics, and rescue .
..Training is an ongoing process and with the amount of required training
that is necessary to be proficien t in our duties we are continually challenged to
meet those objecti ves.
205
"Special training is genera lly categorized in our ·'special operations." This
includes confined space entry, trench rescue, hydraul ic rescue tool (Jaws), cold
and swift water rescue. We train with different evolutions or each or these op-
erations at least two times per year.
"We meet many challenges in prov iding appropriate training sites for staff.
We are limited for space and it is difficul t to provide simulation oil site for
many of our training subjects. We do utilize any ava ilab le room at City Hall.
We also use open space at Red Hi It s, numerous parks and any open space in our
industrial/business parks. Some training has also been provided al the Regional
Fire Training Center at FVTC. The coll ege also provides training as does our
service Medical Director.
Tn 200 I the Kaukauna Fire Department took part in a mock bus accident
north of Kaukauna near the Out-0-Town Club. The simulated crash was be-
tween a school bus and a truck carrying toxic chemicals.
The accident was designed by Gene Prellwitz, a full-time firefighter. The
exerc ise took about fi ve months of planning. Approximately 125 firefi ghters,
medical first-respo nders and para medics from three fire departments and three
ambulance services in Outagamie and Brown Counties took part in the exercise.
An abandoned home and shed on Loderbauer Road was utilized as a week-
long training experience. The firemen practiced search and rescue drills, venti-
lation techniques. tried out new equipment and extinguished fires set in differ-
em rooms before the entire structure was burned.
Another training exercise includes a controlled burn. The Kaukauna Fire
Department conducts an annual spring prairie bum al the I 000 Islands Environ-
mental Center. Encompassing 20 acres, the fire helps the wild fl ower seeds to
generate new plants and destroys weeds that grew the prev ious year. Fi refight-
ers from Freedom, Wrightstown and Buchanan also assist.
Training experience with ladders invol ves changing the li ght bulbs al Doty
Bayorgeon Field on Dodge Street.
ln Apri l 20 13 an exercise was conducted in which a formal emergency op-
eration center at city hall \\'as opened. The mock exercise included all the key
players including the mayor, city engineering department. superintendent of
schools, fire chief, police chi ef, city clerk-treasurer and utilities' representati ves.
The exercise started \.vith a snow and ice storm and escalated to a partial city
power outage and numerous traffic accidents. Chier Hine stated that as a result
of the drill, they were going to increase the power lines into the present emer-
gency center and expand back up power into some areas o!' city hall.
As a result of the drill , the ci ty's emergency opera ti ons center plan was
updated. The city's human resource director, a new position, wi ll serve as the
Health and Human Resource Coordinator. The drill provided an opportunity for
all departments to update their speci lie resource listing. The city experienced
difficulty in radio communicati ons which is an issue in Outagamie County for
all public service agencies. Nationwide, lhe radio freque ncy bands known as
VHF have become congested and the Firefighters and emergency medical ser-
vice personnel communicate on every ca ll via two rad ios. One is Lhc mobile
206
·where a radio and antennae is mounted in the vehicle or by portable radio, car-
ried by the firefighter or paramedic. Nationwide the radio frequency bands
known as VHF have become congested and the expansion o f these frequencies
was impossible. The FCC issued a mandate for the conversion of these fre-
quencies to a narrow band. In Outagamie County, it was determined to provide
appropriate coverage to responders and provide adequate channels for police,
fire, and emergency med ical services by changing to an 800 MHz radio system.
The system would be county-wide and would provide responders with the op-
portunity to speak directly with other agencies in Brown and Winnebago coun-
ties.
The system was built and placed in service in late 2013. Five new towers
were erected throughout the county and new mobile and portable radios in-
stalled by all users. T he cost for the infrastructure in Outagami e County for the
towers was about $7.5 mi llion. Kaukauna Fire Department purchased five mo-
bile radios, 32 portable radios, and 8 pagers for $71 ,840. The fire department
received a competitive federa l grant award of $71 ,841 .
This structure requires command staff from all involved departments have
appropriate representation in the Emergency Operation Center ( EOC) to collec-
tively coordinate events for functional and appropriate scene management. Hirte
noted that the department did experience difficulty in radio communications
that included our inability to have enough radio capacity and frequency chal-
lenges within our structure. Radio communications is an issue in Outagamie
County for all public service agencies.
Later in the year in August, 2013, the city experienced heavy damage from
a stonn/ tornado event. The emergency operation center (EOC) was opened. The
pre-planning had proven to be a benefit. Personnel responded to manage the
incident as the pre-plan was written. The administrative staff that responded
quickly coordinated events to utilize staff and resources in an effici ent manner
to assess damages and reduce the threat of fire by taking control of damaged
structures and turning off utilities - gas and electric power, assessing dis placed
residents and providing appropriate shelter, and controll ing traffic within the
city. The local events were coordinated with the County Emergency Manage-
ment coordinator and the public was continually informed on the status of the
event and clean-up measures.
In October of 2013 . during the 30-day test period of the new radio system,
the department discovered that there was not adequate radio coverage in nlllner-
ous pa11s of the city. The fire department was unable to receive radio s ignal in
the fire and poli ce departments, many downtown businesses on Second Street,
Kaukauna High School, Riverview School and Thilmany mill. The topography
in the affected area was too low to receive an acceptable radio signal. The
County needed to construct an additional radio tower in the Kaukauna area.
The city counci l agreed to provide an area off of Boyd Avenue near the munici-
pal swimming pool. The $820,000 cost of a new 160-foot tower was paid for
by Outagamie County.

207
Firefighters volunteer on off-duty time to help citizens do yard work and
help spruce up their yards.
In 200 l the Kaukauna High School WIAA state champion girls track team
decorated the fire truck and the firefighters gave them a ride in the we lcome
home parade.
Fire prevention and public education programs accounted for about 240
man hours, with 68 hours devoted to school educationa l programming and 180
hours to non-school educational training. Training includes fire prevention
classes, CPR and first aid classes, fire extinguisher training, the Kaukauna
Community Health Association 's Health Fair, Th ilmany fire response team and
first responders, scouting, pub Iic speaking engagements, juveni le fire setters
classes and general safety programs such as Wiscons in boater safety class and
all ten-ain vehicle classes.
The fire department visit schools during Fire Prevention Week and offers a
variety of programs to get their message across in a fun way. One year they set
up bases resembling a baseball diamond. First base represented a fire resulting
from cooking. Second base represented a fire started from a heating un it and
third base represented an electrical fire. Home plate represented a fami ly hav-
ing a home defense plan in place in case of a fire. Firefighters help out with
Safety Town, a five -day program that teaches children fire safety.
First-aid and what to do in case of a bee sting arc covered in the yea rly
babysitting class offered to youths.
Pre-Kindergarten classes often visit the fire department. They tour the liv-
ing quat1ers, trucks, ambulance and watch a fireman and two students dress for
a fire.
ln 2007 two female FVTC students completed their internship with the ti re
department. During the summer reading program at the Kaukauna Public Li-
brary young readers are given the opportunity to tour a fi re truck and rescue
vehicle. The firefighters cover fire safety.
The fire department purchased a rescue truck from Pierce Manufacturing
Company, Appleton fo r $2 14,872 in 2006. Radio and loose tools required for
the vehicle cost $4, I 00 .
In 2007 the depa11ment purchased a new ambulance from Li fe line Emer-
gency Vehicles at a cost of S127,624. The vehic le was built on a 2008 Ford
medium duty chassis. The city allocated $ 127 ,000 toward an ambu lance to re-
place the 1994 Braun. A trade-in allowance, rebates and incenti ves brought the
net delivery price to$ l 20,224.
ln 2008 the Kaukauna Fire Department received a grant of $50,544 from
Homeland Security office fo r Domestic Preparedness to purchase firefight ing
vehicles.

208
Major Fires 2000 - 2014

1. Residence 1605 Main Aven ue


O n March 29, 2000, a juveni le playing with matches started a house fire at
a home on Main A venue. T he fire caused 5>80,000 ($ I 06,525 today) worth o f
damage and temporarily displaced the family that resided at the home.
When firefighters got to the scene, smoke was coming out of the eves of
the bui lding. The fire had already gotten in to the peak of the attic of the house.
T wenty-one firefi ghters worked to extinguis h the blaze that appeared to co me
from a crawl space/storage area on the home's second floor. Firefighters had to
ventilate the ho use . T here was extensive s moke and water damage throughout
the house.

2. Nicolet School Highway 55 and Eighth Street


A fire gutted the kindergarten room at Nicolet Elementary School, May 25,
2000. Firefighters arrived to find smoke and fl ames billowing from the single-
story kindergarten room, which juts to the west o f the historic, three-s tory orig i-
nal school. T he b laze was brought under control in about one hour.
Approximately 25 firefighters battled the blaze which caused an estimated
$300,000 ($407,056 today) in damage. Students attended Park School the rest
of the school year. Nicolet \Vas ready for classes in the fall.

3. Two-Family Residence 135 Taylor Str eet


O n October 27, 2001 , fire damaged a two-story, two- family residence. No
one was home al the time of the fire.
Cause of fire apparently was electri cal in nature. The kitchen fl oor col-
lapsed into the basement and there was heavy smoke and water damage
throughout the home. The one-car attached ga rage was destrnyed. Damage
was estimated at $85,000 ($ 11 0, I 04 today).

4. Residence Lincoln Avenue


On December J 1, 2001, Kaukauna fi refi ghters were dispatched to the resi-
dence after a 911 call came in and found the home engulfed in flames. Flames
were coming from the rear of the house . The front of the house was ini tially
dark un til flam es s hot out of the windows .
Two cats were killed in the fire, whic h firefi ghters battled for 20 minutes .
However, the house was a complete loss. Damage was estimated at $75,000
($99,075 today). The fire was intentionally set.

209
5. JOO-Year-Old l-lome 600 West Seventh Street
The Kaukauna Fi re Department received the initial call about 1:20 a.111. on
Apri l 9, 2002. Department personnel remained on the scene until 6 a.m. About
8:30 a.m. firefighters ,were investigating the cause of the fire when they found
the fire had rek indled and flam es were shooti ng from the structure. With in two
hours the fire was extinguished .
The cause of the fire was listed as the electrical box, where wiring showed
extensive damage. The home was severely damaged.

6. Apartment above Corleonc 's Bar 311 Lawe Street


The Kaukauna Fire Department was dispatched for a fire in the apartment
above the bar at I: 13 am on Janua1y 30, 2008, after a patron leaving the bar no-
ticed the smoke. The bar was evac uated and nobody was in the apartment at the
time. The fire was contained to the second floor and attic area. There was fire
and smoke damage to the apartment, and water and smoke damage to the bar.
The loss was estimated at $60,000 to $80,000 ($63,897-85, 197 today).

7. Residence 205 West Ninth Street


On December 12, 2008, five people lost their home in one of the biggest
fires in the city in several years. When firefighters arrived, they rescued the
family's dog trapped in the home. It appeared the fire had been burning for sev-
eral hours before their arriva l. Firefighters worked to protect the home located
about 15 feet east of the home. Firefighters remained on the scene for more
than 12 hours, battling cold temperatures, wind, and heavy smoke.
The loss was estimated around $100,000 ($106,496 today).

8. Garage and Two Ca rs on 108 West Seventh Street


A fire destroyed a garage and two automobiles at I 08 W. Seventh Street in
Kaukauna on Saturday morning, on April 22, 2009. The heat from the fire
caused the siding on the two adjacent houses to melt as well as paint to peel
from a nearby garage.

9. M ulti-vehicle Cras h Highway 41 Near Maloney Road Overpass and


Highway 55
Two multi-vehicle crashes in the fog closed Highway 41 in the Kaukauna
area on Friday morning, March I0. 2010. The first crash occun-ed about 7:48
a.m. near the Maloney Road overpass in Kaukauna near Highway 55. Heavy
fog and icy road conditions were believed to be conttibuting factors.
The main crash involved 3 I vehicles, with 13 people receiving non-life
threatening injuries. The Kaukauna Fire Depa1tment was one of the many,
many agencies responding to the scene. The crash was covered by national
news on television.

210
10. Historic Home 401 West Wisconsin Avenue
Retired Fire Chief Torn Roberts and wife, Tess, Josi lheir home after an air
conditioner caught on fire shortly after 2 a.m. on Augusl 21, 20 IO.
Several people passing by noti ced the window air conditioner on fire,
called 911, and knocked on the fronl door or lhe home and woke up the couple,
who said they had two people upsta irs who were renting rooms. Citizens and
police went upsta irs and assisted the two people out of the house. When
Kaukauna firefighters arri ved the fire had spread to the attic area. The fire was
knocked down in this area.
The Little Chute Fire Department was req uested for mutual aid to assist
with manpower. A Kaukauna tirefighler was also transported to a local hospital
for heat exhaustion. Crews worked fo r 2-112 hours, extingui shing the fire and
overhauling lhe home and contents. The fire department esti mated the loss at
$ J 45,000 ($ 155,413 today) .
Tom Roberts ' parents, Bert and Ann, purchased the home in the 1940s.
Tom lived in the home as a child. then purchased the home after his parents de-
cided to sel I.
The original owner of the home was J. W. Claspil , who was a business as-
sociate of Kaukauna 's first mayor, J-1. A. Frambach. Tom's parents, Bert and
Arm, purchased the home from a doctor's wife when Torn was in fourth grade
and later his mother lived upsta irs for just $ t 0 a month until she passed away.
Tom Jived there un til grad uating from high school and going into the Ar-
my, and when he returned he lived upstairs until he married. When his first
wife passed away, he returned, after his marriage to Tess and they lived there
together for 30 years. The home was demolished before a small crowd of peo-
ple and a one story home built on the site. The new house was attached to the
old garage.

11. Two and One-half Car Garage 2 I 5 Elm Street.


On August 25, 2012, the Kaukauna Fire Department was dispatched to a
garage fully engu l feel in !lames. Two nearby houses and a garage had moderate
damage caused by the radiant heat produced by the fire. The tire was under
control within 10 minu tes. The garage was a complete loss.

12. Home on Dodge Street


On August 8, 2013 at 5:24 a.m. Kaukauna firelighters arrived to find the
entire residential structure involved with fire. Smoke and flames were visible
and escaping from the windows on the structure. The fire extended from the
first floor and into the attic. The residents were not hom.e at the time of the fire.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined and suspicious. An exterior door to
the structure had been forcibly opened before firefighters arrived. There was
also vandalism to several cars that were parked in front of the residence. It is
believed that the activities of the vandalism and the house fire are related.

2 11
Home on
Dodge Street

Photos courtesy of KFD.

212
Firefighters During Wildland Control Burn

Kaukauna Business Pa rk Lt. Mike Hami lton

Lt. Mike Hamilton LL Mike Hamilton


Ast. Chief Don Grindheim

Commerce Crossing Pho!os Courtesy of KFD

2 13
Kaukauna Ambu lance/Paramedic Training

Mayor L. F. Nelson said that "this was the greatest community effort since
the American Legion built the stone wal l along the Fox River on Oak Street in
1930." The Mayor was relc rring lo the city-wide campaign to purchase an am-
bu lance for the City of Kaukauna . The goal was $3,012 ($43,029 today).
The campai gn, initi ated in July of 1942. was spearheaded by the Central
l abor Un ion. Chairman E. E. Brewster initiated scrap metal drives and paper
dri ves, although collecting the paper and metal cost more than the price re-
ceived by the union. The city counc il voted to donate some obso lete fire-
fighting equipment lo the Labor Union to sell and put the money toward the
ambulance fund. The equipment included a number of chemical tanks and other
material wh ich had been stored in the attic of the municipal building for years.
The uni on sold the equipment for $ 150. 1,530 pounds of scrap rubber brought
in $ 15.00. The paper drives ra ised S I00.
The Kaukauna Times ran a weekly "contribution list" of all the individ uals,
busincsses, ma nu faclurin g compani es and mills who contributecl toward the
purchase or the new ambu lance. The drive ended in August, S200 short of the
$3,0 12 needed . The city counci l agreed lo donate the last $200.
The Central Labor Union Board appl ied for and received the penn iL lo pur-
chase the ambulance from the War Production Board. The permit was turned
over to the city which purchased the ambulance from Gustman's Chevrolet in
Ju ly 1942.
The Board or Health reported that the Thilrnany Pulp and Paper Company
would provide dri vers for the ambu lance on emergency calls if the firemen or
police brought the ambu lance to the plant. The Board of Health recommended
that the city pay firem en fo r dri ving the ambulance during off hours and off
days at the same rate paid other dri vers which was SJ .
Volunteer drivers completing a basic Red Cross course were: Steve An-
dre\\'S, Francis Baeten. Antone Berkers. E. E. Bre\\'ster. Anhur De Brue. John
Engcrson. K. Engerson. Richard Eslein. ·ic Esler. George Gerrits. William
Geese. Ben Golden. Elmer Grebe. Arthur Gustrnan. John Haid. Wi lliam Hass,
Cli ffo rd 8. Kemp. Robert Kindler. Lee Kolerus, Alvi n Kronforst, Glen Mi ller.
William Nagel. Eel Nicholson, Carl Runte. Orris Schmalz, Joseph Schmidt,
Henry Schmidt and Henry A. Siebers. The city insurance covered the ambu-
lance drivers and they were covered by workmen's compensation.
Initially the ambulance was kept at Gustman 's Chevrolet Ga rage. If the
ambulance was needed, a call was made to the Kaukauna Fire Department. The
fire department then ca lled Art Guslman or A. Kronforst, who answered the call
and/or cal led addit ional drivers.
The original plan was lo construct an addition to the city garage located at
the bottom or the Lawe Street Bridge on Oak Street, but the steel was not avail-
able due to wa r rations in effect. Instead, a section of the city garage was sec-
ti oned off from the main part or the garage by cement blocks. The area was

2 14
fitted with a large roll type door and a small door into the main garage. The
ambulance moved into its pennanent quarters in October 1943. Once the ambu-
lance was stored in the city garage the fire department was in charge of direct-
ing the ambulance drivers. The men's names were placed on a chart in the fire
department showing the hours they were available.
Donations to stock the ambulance continued. Kaukauna Lumber and Man-
ufacturing Company donated a set of splints and the Red Cross added blankets,
bandages, asbestos gloves, and flashlights.
The first ambulance run transported Eugene Derus, son of Mr. and Mrs. M.
F. Derus, Blackwell Street to St. Elizabeth Hospital. Eugene was the victim of
a bicycle accident.
A committee composed of E. E. Brewster, Ed Haas, Ray Nagel, Frank Fe-
mal, M. J. Verfurth, Ceil Flynn, Dr. A. M. Bachhuber and Dr. John Hogan,
drevv up the regulations for the operation of the ambulance. The regulations
included:
• Physicians, police and industries have the authority to call out the city am-
bulance. These groups had their own first aid department and knew which
cases must be taken to the hospital.
• Emergency cases will be handled by the police department since they are on
the scene of accidents.
• In case of an emergency, a physician will go to the hospital with the ambu-
lance as the second man required in the ambulance.
In October, 1943, Anton Berkers, one of the drivers, appeared at the city
council requesting a radio which cost $68.50 ($926 today) for the new ambu-
lance. Berkers stated that the radio would help keep the driver and attendant
awake on night calls. Only the attendant would operate the radio. The radio
would not be used when transporting a patient, but was for the entertainment of
the drivers on return trips, especially from long trips from distant cities such as
Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The council approved the purchase of a radio for
the ambulance.
Ambulance runs continued to increase in the early 40s with no charge to
city taxpayers. A charge was made for runs outside the city limits. The prob-
lem was that most charges were not collected and the amount collected was far
from enough to sustain the ambulance service.
In January 1944 the Board of Health suggested establishing a board to re-
view all bills and determine the ability of the family or patient to pay. The
board would pass on the bill with instructions to the city clerk on how much to
charge. A bill in that amount would be mailed to the person using the ambu-
lance.
At the February meeting the city council established two zones for the op-
eration of the city ambulance and established rates for each run.
Zone 1 included any trip up to 25 miles from the city garage where the am-
bulance was kept, with a minimum $10 charge for any person other than a resi-
dent of Kaukauna and certain other individuals who contributed toward tbe pur-
chase of the ambulance.
215
Zone 2 was any trip beyond 25 miles Crom the starting poinL and the charge
was 20 cents per mile each way to anyone using the ambulance regardless of
whether or not they were in the ciLy limits or outside of the city limits. There
was no charge for the first 25 miles.
In addition to the dol lar paid to the ambul ance driver and attendant, each
would receive 2-1 /2 cents per mi le, when they operated the ambulance in Zone
2. The money paid would not come out or city l·i.incls bul wou ld be paid from
the 20 cents per mile charged in Zone 2.
In January 1945 the city council decided that no charge would be set for
the user of the ambu lance. A representative or the Central Labor Union (who
spearheaded the campaign to raise money for the lirst ambu lance) told the coun-
cil that the labor union was opposed lo charging for the use of the ambulance.
In the end the city council approved free ambulance serv ice for a 50-mile dis-
tance. After that trips were charged a fee determined on mileage. Trips were
made to Madison. Green Bay. and Mil waukee.
When the ambulance \vas purchased in 1942, approximately 23 calls that
year were answered and in 1946. 15 1 cal ls were answered.
In I954 Mayor Doty Bayo rgeon spearheaded a rundraising campa ign to
replace the 1943 ambulance. After the four major contributors. which included
the Kaukauna Electric and Water Department, Schouten Oil Company, Thil-
many Pulp and Paper Mi ll , and Kaukauna Machine Corporation individual citi-
zens contributed the rest of the money.
The new Mil ler-Cadil lac cost $7.425 ($64,565 today) and was constructed
to include most emergency items necessary for treatment. Many ot· the ambu-
lance runs were to the new Kaukauna Commu nity Hospita l.
Ambulance calls continued lo increase during the 1950s and 1960s. The
number of non-emergency transport ca lls bega n lo increase as hospitals or fam i-
lies requested transfers from the hospital to the nursing home or vice versa.
In 1968 the 1954 Miller-Cadill ac ambu lance was traded in for a Cotner-
Berington Oldsmobile ambulance. Finn i cost arter a trade-in and tax refund was
SI 0,400 ($69,799 today).
The nevv two-tone, reel and white colored ambu lance was equ ipped with
power steering and power brakes. The inside height was 48 inches, making it
possible to transport four patients at one time.
Group Ambulance Drive (GA RD) expressed interest in !'urnishing items
for the new ambu lance. Donations incl uded linens, blankeLs and other articles
not included as standard equipment. GA RD donated a new two-way radio sys-
tem which enabled the driver and attendant to be in contact with the lire depart-
ment whenever they were on a service call.
In October 1969, Fire Chier Teel Smits presented a proposal to the city
council to limit the service area of the Kaukauna ambulance. Service wou ld
include the city of Kaukauna and its immed iate vicinity. As the ambulance runs
increased, the threat of an understaffed fire deparlmenl became a major concern.
The fire department could not operate with on ly two men left a l the department
during an ambulance run.
2 16
In the early 1970s emergency medical training for ambulance allendants
and firefighters became a top priority in the Fox River Valley. The basic firs t
aid course was no longer sufficien t when transporti ng acc iden t victims or heart
attack victims to hospitals. The firefi gh ters were told that in the future, fire-
fi ghters would continue to use the ladders. trucks. hoses. etc. but would be aided
by equipment like defibrillati on monitors and ol her machines. T hi s wou ld in -
clude training based on the simple foc i that the ambulance crew on an emergen-
cy call were in the best position to make the initial assessment. emeregency
medica l technicians (EMTs) were in the best position to determine how to treat
the illness or injury.
Kaukauna ·s ambulance was manned by Ii re lighters trained to give emer-
gency aid. The men had courses in lirst aid, bot h standard and advanced each
year. and were requi red to take additional first aid courses. The local ambu-
lance rate was sti ll SIO ($56 today) and trips to Appleton were $ 15 ($83 today)
each. The service was not for long runs. since Neenah and Green Bay was the
limit. On those cal ls the bas ic rate was charged plus an add it ional 25 cents per
mil e.
ln 1973 the Emergency 1lea lt h Se rvices Department o r the Di vision or
Health offered the Dunlap Basic [ mergency Medical Tech ni cian course at St.
Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton. Forty-fou r Outagamie County emergency
workers registered for the course. Six were Kaukauna firelighters. Anendi ng
from Kaukauna were Everene Bovee. Joe Gasper, James Ki nc. Jerry Kobussen.
Bruce Mathis, and Wayne Vaneven hoven.
Once an EMT, the men could be compared to the TV program.
"Emergency," wh ich was a popular TV series from 1972 until 1979. This ap-
pea led to the citizens who were no longer satis fied with the ambulance racing to
an emergency, quickly picking up victims and transporting them lo the hospital
without administering first aid care at the scene. The course co nsisted or 25 ses-
sions covering anatomy and physiology, cardiac arrest. bleeding and shock.
acute medical problems. emergency obstetrics and care or infants, body cavity
and genitalia injuries, wounds, bums, eye injuries, fractures and di slocations of
long bone and pelvis, spinal fractures and head injuries. movement of patient
and the disturbed patient. Dr. Thomas M. Loescher, Dr. F. Mark Moore, and
Dr. Finn 0. Gunderson presented the lectures since the slate mandated that phy-
sicians present all lectures.
The men also completed 20 hours clinica l experi ence al St. Elizabeth Hos-
pi tal, Appleton Memorial Hospita l and the Outagamie I lca lth Center in the
emergency room, psychiatric unit, in tensive care. coronary ca re, orthopedic
unit, surge1y, and medical and surgica l units.
The six Kaukauna firefighters also completed a self-study course from the
American Journal of Nursing offered to registered nurses at St. Eliz:abcth Hospi-
tal through FVTC. In addition. advanced classes were held in all med ical areas,
especia lly diabetes, cardiology and intravenous therapy. In the fa ll the men au-
dited cardiology classes taught by Dr. M. K. .Jasser for nurses.

2 17
The Kaukauna firemen attended additi onal classes of'rered by the education
department al St. Eli zabeth Hospital. Carol Van Boxtel. R.N. Emt/paramedic
instructor and lifet ime Kaukauna resident, taught the men how to take blood
pressure, pul ses, and correctly assess a patient and accurately report this initial
assessment to the emergency room.
The men spent off duty time obtaining clinical experience in the emergen-
cy room and surgery. Two of the men obtained CPR instructor certification.
This allowed the instructors to recerti fy the firefighters in CPR during on-duty
tin1e.
The additional training enabled the men to take the national test and be-
come nationally certilied EMTs. The driving force for private and public ambu-
lance companies to complete the course was that within the next several years
the stale wou ld pass a Jaw requiring all emergency vehicles to be manned by
licensed EMTs.
The question arose over whether all patients would have to be transported
to St. Elizabeth Hospital since almost all the training was taught there. St. Eliz-
abeth Hospita l stated that the trai ning was being done as a commun ity effort to
afford the best medical care at the scene. The hospita l did nol expect the men
trained to transport their patients to St. Elizabeth unless the patient themselves
requested it.
At the March 1974 common council meeting. the Public Protection and
Safety Board recommended acquiring a new. more f'ull y equipped ambulance
van . Carol Van Boxtel RN/EMT/ Paramedic Coordinator for St. Eli zabeth Hos-
pital. oullined the training given to Kaukauna firefi ghters under the EMT pro-
gram. She added that there was no benefit to obtaining the training if the equip-
ment to put the training to use was not avai lable. In addi tion. new federal regu-
lations would require clinical instruction, allending an autopsy, participation in
si mulated county-wide disaster alerts and eight hours standby duty in an emer-
gency room. Lo observe post transport treatment given to ill persons or accident
victims. Severa l firefig hters commented that the lack or eq uipment prevented
them from initiating the medical care they were trained for.
Sergeant Stan ley Arnold, the county's highway sa fety coordinator. also
supported the ambulance purchase and outlined the requirements for application
for federa l funds of up to 57.500 toward the new van. Plus one half of the fed-
eral ly required radi o system would be covered under l'cclcra l funds. Arnold add-
ed that the 1968 ambul ance should be reserved for transpo rting persons from
one hospital lo another, from doctor's clinics or nursing homes to hospitals.
The new van should be reserved solely for emergency runs. The total cost of
the am bu lance was $I 8,000 ($85.308 today).
Kaukauna Community Hospital was the onl y hospital in the area not pres-
ently equipped with such a radio system and had no regular physician on duty in
the emergency room. The hospital was not required to have Lhe two-way sys-
tem since it did not have an emergency room but cou Id app ly on its own for the
federal financing to acquire one. Adrni nislralor Anderson expressed some fear
that without that service the hospital would be left out or other facets of patient
218
care and questioned a proposed system of county-wide control dispatching for
ambulances. A number of city firefighters were planning to allcnd a school on
central dispatching. In March 1977 13 firefighter/EMTs requested advanced
training to start IVs and to equip the city' s new ambulance with intravenous
equipment. Chief Sm its refused both requests.
The matter came up at a meeting of the Public Protection and Safety Com-
mittee, where proponents o f the use of the IV equipmen t sought to lay the
ground work for a communi ty planning and fundraising efforts. Chi ef Smits
stated, "they had a meet ing and I wasn't there. due to il lness. 1r they wanted to
call another meeting, he certainly would be wi lli ng to come and state his
views."
Medical personnel insisted that intravenous equipment was important in
sav ing lives in situations where blood loss is critical. By giving a patient an IV
at the scene, EMTs could have him ready to go straight into surgery at the hos-
pital. In the absence 01· il, the pati ent could die en route to the hospital or go
into shock. Treatment first started at the hospital might pul olT surgery for a
day.
The fire lighter/EMTs ~eared that if Kaukauna operated the onl y rescue ser-
vice without IV service, it wou ld start losing business to private carriers who
did offer it. They lell that the arrival of a new ambulance was the ideal time to
get IV equ ipment and a training program started in Kaukauna.
Cap1. Evcrelle Bo\'ee of the fire department. a licensed EMT, said there
were times the Kaukauna EMTs were on ambulance runs when they kne\\" pa-
tients needed IVs and the men could not administer them. He said that while he
could not speak for the chief, he suspected that Smits opposition dated back a
couple or years Lo a city council meeting where the city hea lth officer sa id that
th is kind of th ing was tine fo r the larger city like Los Angeles but was not need-
ed in a sma ll place like Kaukauna. Bovee said he, for one, wou ld be enthused
about getting advanced EMT traini ng.
Tom Schaffer, Kaukauna Education Association (K EA) spokesman, said
that the issue arose during a recent in-service training session for members of
the Kaukauna Ed ucation Association, who were given a demonstration of cardi-
opulmona ry resuscitation by two members of the fire department. The teachers
learned that no intravenous equipment was planned fo r the city's new ambu-
lance. The teachers unanimously agreed to provide $ 1,000 toward the purchase
of the necessary equi pment, in addition to volunteering their help in a fund
dri ve to pay for the balance. Representatives of the Kaukauna Education Asso-
ciation appeared at the council meeting and informed the counci l that they were
prepared to give the city their SI .000 check immediately. Chier' Smits was ab-
sent. ··We'll be glad to come back if we have to:· said Jacquelyn Van Abel.
Kaukauna school nurse. ··we·re not trying to talk behind the chiers back:·
" What is needed is a meeting of all concerned patties, so the issue can be
talked out and planning properly started"' said Carol Van BoxteL RN, EMT/
Paramed ic Coordinalor for St. Elizabeth Hospital. She reco1nmcnclcd fo rming a

2 19
committee which would include the KCH administrator and a medical staff rep-
resentative, the fire chief, Kaukauna EMTs, a mefftber or the Pub lic Protection
and Safety Committee interested citizens and herself. The committee would set
up plans and give direction for the advanced training.
According to the proponents, IV equipment and training would cost about
$ 15,000. Included would be $4,800 for a heart monitor-defibrillator in the am-
bulance, plus $7 ,000 for a telemetry unit that would read a patient 's heart beat
at the scene and transmit the information to a nearby hospital. In additi on there
would be $4,000 as compensation pay for the firefi ghters who would have to
take off from work to attend the advanced EMT classes.
The special city council committee met and recommended that the citizen' s
study committee thoroughly review all aspects of the EMT training issue. T he
committee was directed to evaluate doing a\vay with the municipal ambulance
service nm by the fire department in favor or a private outside service.
The committee included Frank Potter, Roger Anderson, Admini strator of
Kaukauna Communi ty Hospital , Carol Van Boxtel, RN, EMT/ Parnmeclic Coor-
dinator, Jacquelyn Van Abel, Kaukauna School Nurse, Dr. Geo rge Boyd,
Thomas Schaffer of the KEA , Fire Chief Theodore Smits, Aid . Lance
Goetzman, Dr. W. W. Wolfmeyer and one of the fire department's thirteen
EMTs.
Both Smits and Mayor Robert La Plante suggested going to pri vate ambu-
lance service because of limited manpower of the fire department and the cost
of bringing Kaukauna 's in line with that of the pri vate operators. The new am-
bulance could be donated to somebody.
Van Abel and Van Boxtel contended that Kaukauna could have the ambu-
lance service that compares with that of municipal and pri vate service elsewhere
in Outagamie County. To do that, the city would have to get additional training
for its EMTs plus more equipment fo r the new ambul ance. Jn Outagami e Coun-
ty. Kaukauna was the only municipal service whose ambulance attendants had
the basic EMT training. Now these EMTs needed the advanced training lo start
IVs and heart-monitoring equipment.
Van Boxtel said the intravenous training and equipment was important for
car accidents, where there is significant blood loss and the increased poss ibility
that the victim would go into shock. The heart monitoring equipment was im-
portant for early handling of heart attack cases.
The equipment cost had been placed at $ 15,800 ($84,043 today), with ad-
ditional yearly expenditures for recertification of the EMTs through courses and
seminars, either loca lly or throughout the state. Van Boxtel, however, sa id this
training wouldn 't make much sense if the necessary intravenous and heart mon-
itoring equipment was not placed on the new ambulance for them to use. She
said the city must either be willi ng to go into ambu lance service full fl edge or
else simply contract for it. One alderman noted that Appleton contracted with a
private company for most of the ambulance runs.
Kaukauna had 415 ambulance requests in 1973, although Smits admitted
that a large number of these were nonemergency transports from nurs ing homes
220
to loca l hospitals. Kaukauna was looking into doing away with non emergency
transports. By comparison. Kaukauna ·s fire department made 151 fire runs in
1972. Informally. council members agreed that the city"s EMTs should receive
advanced EMT training, if they can get it as part of their basic EMT recertifica-
tion. A more immediate concern. Carol Van Boxtel sa id, was making sure the
Kaukauna EMTs got their basic recertification before December. Some of the
men nccclcd as many as 40 of the 100 recertification cred its and she didn't know
hovv they wou ld get them all in time.
She sa id that Smits, in the past, has gotten in the way of her efforts to get
the Kaukauna EMT's into needed courses, and that she had to go to Mayor La
Plante to get the men freed up to attend the classes. Smits denied that he was
against seeing his men trained. He assured Van Boxtcl he would provide her
with a list of the EMTs current recertification standings.
Richard Helf, who handled the ci ty's liability insurance, cautioned that the
insurance would have to be revised if the fire department's EMTs received ad-
ditional training since it would move them up into the profess ional liabi lity cat-
egory.
Schaffer brought the whole ambulance issue lo a head the previous week
when. through, the education association, he offered $ 1,000 to start the new am-
bulance equi pment and training fund. Teachers in the Kaukauna Education As-
sociation still planned lo donate $ 1,000 and help raise another $ 14,000 to equip
Kaukauna 's new ambulance (which was ordered) with specialized equipment
such as a telemetry unit and heart monitor unit. The money would also pay for
the additional training costs.
Physicians at the Kaukauna Clin ic indicated their support for the emergen-
cy medica l and cardio-pulmonary emergency system. Training for Kaukauna
EMTs wou ld continue. That training would include about 20 hours of instruc-
tion on indi vidual drugs and six to eight hours of orientation on heart physiolo-
gy and disorders. Dmg and cardiology tra ining would be taught by physicians
and drug mathematics instruction would come from a pharmacist. EMTs would
also learn how to administer injections in hospital training sessions. After that
orientation, EMTs could handle the injections in emergency ambulance duties.
During this time the fees for the ambulance increased from £25 to S35 for
transporting a res ident to the Kaukauna Community Hospital and $30 to $40 for
transporting of a resident to an Appleton Hospita l. Non-residents ' fees for
transit lo the Kaukauna hospital went up from $35 to $45 and a non-resident
going lo an Appleton faci lity would pay $45. Non-residents going to locations
other than a hospital would pay $45 rather than $35 and res idents going else-
where wou ld pay $35 rather than $25.
In April the specia l citizens study committee voiced strong support for the
city operated ambulance. The firefighters/EMTs were concerned over complet-
ing advanced training if in the end they would not be able to use it. Both Fire
Chief Theodore Smits and Mayor Robert LaPlante suggested that Kaukauna
serious ly consider gening out of the ambulance business.

22 1
Jacquelyn Yan Abel. Kaukauna school nurse, said she fe lt very strongly
about keeping the city ambulance service. She said she fe lt that "Kaukauna's
EMTs stood head and shoulders above their counterparts on privaie local ser-
vices. She noted that the cost of service from the Kaukauna ambulance was
considerably lower than that of the private services. "W ith qual ified people
servicing the city ambulance and local hospital personne l willi ng to give them
traini ng and a new am bulance to be delivered soon, Ka ukauna has a lot of
th ings going for it. Why throw all th is clown the dra in?" She asked.
KEA representative Tom Schaffer asked, "I low can you have approved
purchas ing a $28,000 vehicle - the city's new ambulance, scheduled to anive
this summer - and then look at going to a private ambulance service?" Schaffer
noted that he was personally scared by the threat or a privntc service operating
here and then tel ling the city to subsidize it or else it would pul l out.
Dr. W. W. Wolfmeyer noted that "while the trend in the Fox Valley is
away from mun icipally-operated ambu lances, the state and nationa l trend is just
the reverse because or esca lating costs. Peopl e are going to have to be willing
to pay i·or the increasing cost of service, whether it comes rrom the private or
public sectors. Ted Sm its can·t provide a more sophisticated service with his
budget," sa id Wolfmeyer. "You can't provide a bigger. better service without
paying fo r it.''
Smi ts told the committee that excluding salaries. his department"s annual
budget was only about S 11.000 ($42.969 today) per year.
Or. George Boyd, who told the committee to "take a stand on the future of
the ci ty ambul ance service without proceeding with proposa ls fo r getting more
traini ng fo r the li re department's EMTs." He said he "wanted to see some cost
compari sons before he commits himself to the issue." Dr. Boyd said he '>vould
" personally resent it, if he was an EMT and was to gel l"urther tra ining for a job
without knowing if it would even be there in the future." Thal same concern
was voiced by Bruce Math is, representing the tire deparlrnent 's 13 EMTs.
Alderman Frank Potter reported that the committee looked into 11 areas of
ambulance operations. assuming the munic ipal service was retained. These in-
cluded:
I. Usi ng new. more complete ambulance run reporls. \\'hich the departmem
wil l now be receiving.
2. Keeping monthl y stati stics on runs and reporting them Lo the chairman or
the public protection and safety committee.
3. Develop ing a definite written procedure outlining in ventory or am bulance
equipment.
4. Setting up a class for IV training immediately.
5. Gett ing a commi tment from Kaukauna Community I lospital lo become in-
volved, which it has.
6. Getting a physician commitment to become involved, which it got from Dr.
Woll"mcyer.
7. Seeing that those EMTs teachin g CPR become cerl ili ed CPR instructors,
wh ich Chi er Smits agreed to do.
222
8. Setting up definite C PR classes at the fire station for the benefit of the
public, to which Smits also agreed.
9. Allow firefighters to receive eight hours per month of clinical experience at
KCH which wi ll have to be arra nged with the hospital and put into
written procedure. Smits had some reservations about how well th is might
work, as it might lead to ca lling in off-duty firefighters lo cover for those on
duty.
10. Setting up a defin ite written daily schedule to work in EMT training.
11 . Designating one EMT to serve as program coordinator lo establish
schedules, inventory ambulance equ ipn1ent, order suppli es and complete
statistical reports.
fire Chief Theodore Smits did not object to any of the poi nts which includ-
ed beginning training for IV injections for drug therapy at the Kaukauna Com-
munity Hospi tal. Physicians and the fac ility's staff would assist in the tra ining,
said Roger Anderson, the hospital's admini strator.
Smits, however, balked at one of the 11 suggestions fo r future EMT proce-
dures, a plan for eight hours per month of clinica l training al the hospita l. That
training, he said, might result in the need fo r off-duty firemen who would have
to be called in and paid a minimum of three hours overtime to fill in fo r the men
in the training sessions at Kaukauna Community Hospital. The 11 pro-
posals discussed by the committee were joined by fiv e reco mmendations from
Aid. Frank Potter, the committee's chairman.
l. KCH officials must check to see if there are any problems with liabil ity in-
surance as relates to the EMTs getting training there.
2. The city's liabi li ty insurance against malpractice must be rev iewed to see if
it will be affected by the EMTs moving into the advanced EMTs training
level, should that take place.
3. A private ambulance operator should appear before the committee to ex-
plain how and for what cost it would service the city in the event the munic-
ipal service was discontinued.
4. The city should determine the precise cost of its ambulance service.
5. Documentation shou ld be brought in as to the EMT current rccerti fication
status, in addition to a plan for their proposed future training.
Based on the above suggestions, the committee analyzed the cost of
Kaukauna's ambulance service. Next the committee met with Gold Cross am-
bulance and did a cost comparison between Kaukauna Fire Department and
Gold Cross Ambulance. The comm ittee needed to check if the city 's liability
coverage would cover the EMTs if they undertook additional training. Before
the train ing could start, the broad question of whether the city would remain in
the ambulance business needed to be answered.
Chief Smits said that he wanted to take a longer look al the Kaukauna Edu-
cation Association proposals for EMT tra ining. He indicated no objections to
most of the proposals. The training for drug therapy and IV injections would
begin as soon as possible. Hospita l Administrator Anderson sa id that he and
Chief Smits had agreed to work with those men in that phase. The hospital staff
223
was wi lling to assist teaching the use of hypodermic injection. The artificial
arm, along with textbook work, was the first step, sa id Yan Boxtel. After that,
EMTs would practice starting IVs on each othe r and alkr the clinica l training
and three practice runs, EMTs would be certified to start IVs in emergency situ-
ations. Tbe !V's vvould include stimulants, preparations for persons with insu lin
shock, drng overdoses or shock fo llowing accidents.
EMTs would stan to teach cardiopulmonary resuscitation to the public at
large. That instruction wou ld be avai lab le to groups or at in-service sess ions
during the EMT's norma l workin g hours.
The only point which drew opposition from Chier Smits was the proposal
under which firefighte rs wou ld assist, to a degree, in emergency room proce-
dures at a hospital, under a physician's or nurse's directi on. Firefighters wou ld
be required to complete eight hours cl inical instruction per month, with recerti-
fication points a>varded for each eight hours completed. Spending the immed i-
ate time after an emergency run al the hospital to observe and pa rticipate in the
procedures vvoulcl be credited to that requirement.
Smits did not agree with the proposa l. He fe lt the proposal was too cost ly
for the tire department to imp lement. Dr. W. W. Wolfmeyer and EMT Mathis,
however, commented that aside from the schedul ed periods, the time spent after
an emergency run would only be a half-hou r or so no more time than we spend
at the hospitals now." said Mathis. Wo lfmeyer added that men would be ex-
posed to emergency room procedures under that system.
Another change suggested by the KEA included an inventory of equipment
for the ambulance. A written plan of dai ly schedules would also have lo be pro-
vided to the KEA to indicate what times would be available fo r training purpos-
es. Other points proposed by the KEA included expanded records whi ch would
be implemented as soon as the fo rms arrive from the stale or Wisconsin. One
EMT would be assigned program coordinator lo handle supply orders, invento-
ries and prepare schedules and reports. Thal person wou ld report direct ly to
Smits.
The special citi zens study committee recommended on May 11 , 1977, that
the city retain its ambulance serv ice and seek new equ ipment and improved
training for its staff of firefighter EMTs. The study comm ittee's vole was 7-1 ,
with one member absent. Only Fire Chief Theodore Smits was opposed.
The measure, which wou ld now go before the public protection and safety
committee, included five points:
I. Kaukauna will retain its ambulance service, wi th operations continuing
out of the fire department.
2. Existing EMTs will be properly recertifi ed before thei r certification
expires.
3. T he EMTs will be trained to an advanced level with courses in use of IV
equ ipment, CPR and cardiology.
4. The city will accept a $1,000 donation from the KEA for the purchase of
JV equi pment for the new ambulance, whil e initiating a community
fund drive to cover the remainder of the expense.
224
5. The city will support efforts of KCH to obtain radio comm unication
equipment and service for the ambu lance.
Chief Smits said he was opposed to the program because he didn't have the
manpower to put it into effect. He explained that the fire department has three
pieces of equipment to operate in addition to the ambulance with a staff of only
18 men, divided into three six-man shifts. When someone was on vacation that
left five men on the shi ft. For each ambulance call , two men are needed. One
man has to remai n at the station, leaving just two available for fi re cal ls during
ambu lance runs.
Thomas Schaffer, KEA member, accused Smits of trying to use his opposi-
tion to blackmail the city into giv ing him more manpower. He complai ned that
at various times Smits had spoken both for and against improved training and
equipment for the city's ambulance.
Several committee members suggested that Kaukauna discard the notion of
making full-Ocdged paramedics out of its present EMTs. The difference be-
tween the two levels was about 1,000 hours of training per ind ividua l. One
member questioned whether Kaukauna could even qua lify for paramedic ser-
vice because it does not serve a state-mandated population level of 40,000.
Alderman Frank Potter, who chai red both the special study committee and
the public protection and safety con1rnittee, estimated the cost of staffing the
ambulance with paramedics at $150.000 ($585.938 today). The majority of the
cost would result from compensation pay for time off because of schooling. By
comparison, he estimated the 1976 cost of operating the ambulance was
$17 ,845 ($41,888 today), compared with revenues of $ 10,053.
Late in March the city counci l authorized a rate increase for the ambulance
service. Residents would pay $35 Cor runs to Kaukauna Commun ity Hospi ta l,
whi le residents going to Appleton hospita ls would pay $40.
Dr. Simon Cherkasky, Kaukauna physician making hi s first appearance
before the special committee, spoke in emphatic terms about the need to retain a
municipally owned ambulance. "You·ve got to have an ambulance in this town,
because of the population, because of the mills," he said. "There should be no
quescion about it. A municipal ambulance is the best way. I'm not going to
practice in this town without an ambulance at my beck and calI. 1 don't want
the ambulance service destroyed. The city as a community should help this
thing. I've been satisfied with our ambulance. It has worked well. '' Cherkasky
said that if the city went to a pri vate service, that service would have to be locat-
ed in Kaukauna.
A package of improvements fo r Kaukauna 's ambulance service was passed
through the Public Protection and Safety Committee and sen t to ciry council for
final action. ln June 1977, aldem1en voted unanimously to keep the city run
ambulance service and to proceed with efforts to raise $20,000 ($78, 125 today)
to equip the fire department's new ambulance.
Mayor LaPlante. who at one time was among those advising the city to
consider scrapping the ambulance service in favor of contracting with a private
outside service, gave his support to the study group's findin gs .
225
The key recommendation was to keep the ambulance service operated ou L
of the fire department. In addition, the citizens group ca lled for the recerti fica-
tion of the present EMTs and the beginning ot' advanced EMT training that in-
cluded IV therapy and continuing CPR training to the instructor's level fo r
those EMTs who want it.
The package included acceptance of donations from the KEA to the ambu-
lance fond and the initiation of money rais ing efforts for a very high freq uency
(VH F) rad io unit al KCH. Going into the council meeting, the KEA had $3,380
either pledged or donated to the ambulance fund.
The EMTs completed approximately 1,000 hours of training (the last part
()f train ing at FVTC) before they cou ld write the paramedic test. During the
training, they also rode with paramedics from Gold Cross and the Appleton Fi re
Department rescue units to get real Iife experiences of how things would be.
Doctors, other paramedics and a state examiner conducted the ora l testing.
In December 1979 Kaukauna, a city of 12,000, became the sma llest city in
Wisconsin with a municipally operated paramed ic ambulance service.
The six new paramedics who also continued their firefighting duties were
Robert Hanaway, James Kiffe, Bruce Mathi s, Robert Nack, Scott Robach and
Carl Yanevenhoven. The fire department 's seventh paramedic was Bud
Gadow, who was hired in June after working for two years for Gold Cross Am-
bulance Ser vice in Appleton. Another seven members of the department were
EMT's. An open house was held at the fire department's garage.
In SepLember, Robach and Kiffe had a chance to put their training to work
as they deli vered a baby enroute to St. Eli zabeth Hospital. Robach said ''the
deli very wenl smoothly. The irnpottant thing was the calmness, the aLmos-
phere, because the father was pretty exc ited." Sharie and Pete Sullivan, whose
son, Craig, was born in the ambulance on September 24, had nothing but praise
for the paramed ics.
Mat hi s sa id the train ing coulcln 't have been comp leted without the help of
other members of the fire department who often sacrifi ced days off to come in
and work several hours while Mathis and ot hers went through training. He add-
ed " that prov iding the paramedic service would help stabilize the Fire Depart-
ment's position in the community since it now provides a highly skilled ser-
vice."
State law required that once paramedi c service begins, two certified para-
medics must. go out on every ambulance run. During 1979, the Kaukauna Fire
Department rescue squad made about 600 emergency runs in servicing Kaukau-
na, Li ttle Chute, Kimberly, Combined Locks, Wrightstown, Freedom, Greenleaf
and the towns of Harrison, Buchanan, Holland and Vandenbroek.
Following that approval, training of the city's eleven ambulance EMTs
would begin at the Kaukauna Community Hosp ital or oLher area hospitals.
Mayo r Roben La Plante reported that he had a number of phone calls on
the subject. He commented that even a group of Holy Cross fourth graders,
touring city hall , had been aware of the study on ambulance service. "People
who have ca lled ," he continued, ''have suggested keeping the ambulance as a
226
municipal service. They told me that they think our EMTs do a cred itable job
and vvant them to maintai n the level of' $e rvice, or improve," La Plante related ,
"But not to let the cost gel out o/' sight. "
Along with training. there were three openings for lirernen who wanted to
take courses leading to ccrtilication as CPR instructors. Once certified they
would be able to teach other EMTs and the general public CPR proced ures.
After months of planning and a long wait while it was being bui lt, the new
ambulance was delivered the first week in May 2002. T he uniformed men gath-
ered around the ne\\. uni t. They \\'ere the ones who worked as a committee to
design the specifications for the city·s 2002 custom-bui lt Lifeline ambulance.
The low bid of S99.868(S 129.86 7 today) ca me in under budget.
Historica lly, Kaukauna's ambulances serve seven years as the fro nt-line
vehicle. then another seven years as the back up. The new one was replacing a
1994 ambulance and the 1994 one was rep lacing a 1987 vehicle which was go-
ing to be taken out of service. The 1987 vehicle replaced the 1977 unit. It car-
ried the jaws of life and any heavy ex trica tion eq uipment. It was also used as
command post al a fi re scene; that unit had air conditioning for the rehabilita-
tion of firelighte rs in hot cond itions. T hey were able to get in there and cool
off.
The Times-Villager cl<.:scribecl the new vehic le .
"The ne w i·ehicle \I 'll.\" desig ned il'ifh sq/ety in mind and customized to pro-
vide ample storage space. patient con!forr. a better working environment for the
paramedics and the latest in technolog 1·. One safety feature was readily appar-
ent on the back of the unit: There 1l'erejlas'1ing amher lights as well as red and
white lights to make the sq11ad more visihle to onco111i11g traffic.
"Inside. the rescue squad is s1wciom, providing extra headroom for the
men. It is 72 inches tu the fop. so now virtual~v e 1,e1yone can stand up, said
Chief Hirte of the addiliona/ 10 inc/Jes.
"The custom-built cahinet1)" ll'as designed ro meet the Paramedics needs
and accommodate their eq11ipme11r. Items such as needles are stored in built-in
containers.
"A cabinet in the hack corner H'as tailored to hold the para111edics ' fire-
fighting gear and air packs hecause 11·e /Jave dual roles ojjighring }ires and re-
sponding to ambulance calls. lie explained.
"A special she(( a11d cahiner 1rere tailored made ro hold maps and infor-
mation needed regarding the com1111111i(1' ·s protocols.
A narro11· books he(/ 1rns desig ned ro hold a 3-ring binder so it's out of rhe
way when rhe paramedics are 1rnrki11g 011 a pa!ienr but s till i1 's al hand.
'"Lighting has i111pro1·ed. IVe lu/\'e more po11·er coming 10 1'1e back, ire can
ene1gi::e more equipment.
..Another improvement is the obiliz1· ro 11rog ra111 and co11trol the tempera-
wre in back.fi·om 1he cah.
" The 11e1r cot is rugged: i1 11·ill /iold up 10 500 pounds. It has bigger 11·heels
so it is easier 10 push m·er df!ferenr terrain and it ·s lighter, so ii ·s more 1•ersa-
tile andflexible . ..
227
/\ recommendation to revise the ambulance billing fees was approved by
Kaukauna 's Finance and Personnel Committee in July of 2002 . As part or the
Medicare reforms, reimbursement for all providers would become uni fo rm .
Ambu lance bi lli ng wou ld change from bi lling for base fee, supplies procedures
and mileage to billing lo r base rate and mileage only. The change wou ld mean
drops in reimbursement fo r Medicare pat ients needing ambulance services. Fil._
ry-one percent or al I Kaukauna .s patients were on Medicare.
The department \\'Ould sec more Med icare right-offs. Ambulance tees
written off in June 2002 totaled SJ.152.65 (S4. 149 today). By October 2003, al l
Med icare claims had to be electronically filed .
.January 2006, the Ka ukauna Finance and Personnel Committee approved
another increase in ambulance rates. The rate increases were needed to help
offset losses from Medicare. Effoctivc January I, 2006, Medicare no longer
reimbursed for consumable supplies for Medicare runs. If rates were not in-
creased, the ambul ance service could see between $20,000 and S2 5,000 in loss-
es. The Kaukauna Rescue Service responded to a total of 808 calls in 2005: 200
were residential ca lls, l 07 non-resident calls and 455 Med icare/ Medicaid ca ll s.
On October 8, 2005, the fire department held an open house from 4-7 p.111.
Eagle 3. Brown Coun ty hel icopter, made a landing at about 5 p.m. and stayed
for one hour. The celebration was held in conjunction with National Fire Sal'cly
Week. Along with the open house, the tire department also celebrated the 25 1"
anniversa ry of parnmed ic service. The department officially began as paramed-
ics on January Ist, 1980.
T he ambul ancl! service continues lo generates approximately $400,000 in
revenue from the co lkction processes an nually. Ambulance expenses arc re-
duced by an annual a\\'ard or approximately S5.000 that the fire department re-
cei,·es from the State or \Visconsin Funding Assistance Program and is based on
the population served. The funds are designed to support training and equip-
ment needs beyond that which is included in the annua l depa1tment budget.
The Kaukauna Fire Department provides ambulance coverage to the city
and parts of su rrounding townships. The department responded to l,035 ambu-
lance calls in 2013 utilizing t,,.o fully equipped ambulances. In the city, the
firefighter paramedics working on the engine company also respond to emer-
gency medical calls to assist the ambulance crew. enhance pati ent care, and ulti-
mately expediting the ca ll time whi ch places the ambulance back in service
sooner.
The City of Kaukauna is very fortuna te to have its own paramedic service
located within the lire department. The fire department provides the highest
level of pre-hospita l care lo the community. This service receives a tremendous
amount of support from within the community. Without the grass roots com-
munity efforls in lhc lute nineteen seven ties to expand to a paramedic level ser-
vice, it is unlikely that Kaukauna would have this service.
Only 25 percenl 01· lire depa rlmenls operate at the Advanced Life Support
level. The rest o r !he departments prov ide some levels or basic patienl care.

228
The Kaukauna Fire Department conrinually works to implement the newest
procedures available in the pre-hospital healthcare field. Changes or improve-
ments in technology inc lude 12-lead heart monitoring in the fie ld, cardiac pac-
ing, and field preparation for card iac catheterization. Advances in areas or
treating patients in respiratory distress in encl tidal C02, advanced airway inser-
tion and immobilization devices and medication therapy greatly improve patient
outcomes. The fire department currently carries 37 different medications 1n
each o r its ambulances.

Court.:sy or Kaukauna T imes

KFD receives a $ 1,600 donation to purchase 2 trauma


bags and 2 pulse oximeters.
L to R: Chi ef' Bob Nack. KCHA members Michael ine
Steffe ns. Janice Jansen and Mary Quasui s. paramedic
Scott Robach (About 1998)

229
Bob Nack, Gl en Bubolz. and
Assistant Chief Bud Gadow
Wayne Vanevenhoven and
Jim Kiffe

Kaukau na Emergency Medica l Technicians


Attend a traini ng session al St. Elizabeth Hospital.
L to R: Wayne Vanevenhoven. Dr. Mark Moore, Joe Gasper•
.Jerald Kobusscn. Bruce Mathis.

Photo~ counesy of Lyle I lanscn

230
1

Courtesy of Ka uka una Times


Anesthesiologist Vern Horwitz at Kaukauna Commu ni-
ty Hospital leaches Carl Vanevenhoven and Bruce
Mathis intravenous therapy

Courtesy of 11ud Gadow


Supp lies which all ow EMTs to start IVs
Jim KilTc, Bob Nack, Scott Robach

23 1
"'"'- ~a I.

L to R: Carl Vanevenhoven, Bob Hanaway, Bruce Mathis, Bud Gadow

L lo R: Bud Gadow, Bob Hanaway, Bruce Mathis, Jim Kiffe,


Carl Vanevenhoven. Scott Robach. Bob Nack

Photos cou rtesy of Lyle Hansen

232
Courtesy of Kaukauna Times

L to R: Scott Robach, Ray Mohr, Paul Hirte, .Jeny Kobussen

Fund raising conm1ittee stand by new 1942 ambulance.


L to R: Charles Jenner:john , Leonard Beck fo rmer mayor
Lewis Nelson, Lester Brenze l and Eclarcl Seidl

233
~
#~-
...... _..
·-_,.,,. - -
Standing in rront of the new 1968 Oldsmobi le-ambu lance are
L to R: Joe Gasper. Wi lbert " Koby" Kobussen, Mayor Gilberl
Anderson, and Everette Bovee.

1977 Ambul ance manufactu red by Marion Body Pho10s courtesy Jerry Kobusscn
234
Ice Rescue Training

Joe Resch and


Lonny Ziemer
rescue
Scot Vanden Heuvel

Courtesy of
KFD

__,::>-
?"'
A Day in the Life of a Firefighter Paramedic

Foll owing is a summary of a typical workday for a Kaukauna firefighLer


paramedic. The day begins at 07 15. Upon a1Tival there is an exchange of infor-
mation with the person going off duty. The firefighter paramedics brieny re-
view the previous shifts day, discuss calls and ensure all equ ipment is readied.
• Firefighter gea r is placed on the assigned rig.
• Firefighter accountability tags are placed in service for the new duty
crew.
• Log onto apparatus mobile data computer linked directly to 9 11 Dis-
patch. Assure connectivity to GPS mapping system.
• Place food and personnel effects fo r the shift in appropri ate locker and
refrigerator.
• Reports lo morning resume with entire shift, fire chier and assistant fire
chi ef to review schedule fo r the day.
• 0900 hour 15-rn inute break for coffee. Resume with assigned fire in-
spections, vehicle maintenance, or training.
• Respond to fire or EMS cal l. On average an EMS ca ll from start to fin-
ish can take two to three hours including report writing and required
billing processes.
• Eat lunch on shift. Usually eat together but generally do not cook to-
gether. Spend this time on making phone calls, check e-mai ls and so-
cialize with other tiretighters. Firefighters provide al l their own food.
• Following lunch resume with assigned tasks along with responding to
fire/EMS/ rescue ca lls.
• Tidy fire station, keep equipment readied and exercise at 1530 hours,
then prepare fo r dinner.
• Evening is typically a time to read, net\vork with other firefighte rs, and
call home to talk with family.
• The duty day averages three emergency calls along with a daily average
of three fire inspections.
• 0600 hours firefighters begin to prepare fo r the end of their tour of duty.
• In fo rmation is exchanged with duty chief regarding previous day and
night activities. Equipment is prepared for storage and written clocu-
mentalion compl eted.
• Meet replacement firefighter paramedic and prov ide update of acti vi-
ties.

236
The Kaukaunl Volunteer F'ire Department.

Unidentified photo of
Kaukauna Vo lunteer Fi re Department abt.1884

1922 First full y pa id fire department in front of city hall at


bottom of Lawe St. Bridge. L to R.: Walter Martzahl, Archie
Langden, Henry Esler, Owen Roberts, Ed Ward ; seated on fire
truck: Bob Heimen and Charlie Miller. Missing is Otto Kilgas.

237
1926 New Reo fire truck. L to R: Assistant Chief Henry Esler,
Owen Roberts. .James McMorrow, Walter Specht, Edward
Ward, Walter Martzahl and Carl Engerson. Atop the fire engine
are dri ver Charles Miller and Chief Luckow

L to R: Ted Smits, Tom Robe1is, Tom Jansen, Bob Hanaway, Bob Nack,
Jim Brueckner, Wayne Vanevenhoven ( 1982)

238
Sylvester Berghuis and Tom Robe1ts

February 1972 KFD dog named Blaze and Tom Roberts

239
The building, built in 1885 housed City Hall and assigned one
room to the Kaukauna Fire Engine house and the stable to the right.
Was located on Oak Street to the east of Ri ver View Middle
Schoo l. People in photo are not identified.

240
New municipal building built in l 922. Fire department housed in
left section of the building

Rear of Municipal Building

Fire Department moved to Third Street in 1975

241
Button Fire Engine 188 5

1953 Fire Truck manufactured by Four Wheel Drive Corporation

1958 Fire Truck manufacnired by Four Wheel Drive Corporation


Photos cou rtesy ol' Wayne Vanevenhoven

242
1968 Fire Truck manufactured by Peter Pirsch

l 977 Fire Truck manu factured by Pierce Manufacturing Company

2008 Pickup Truck purchased fro m Gustmans Photos courtesy of" KFD

243
Firefighter/Paramedic Duties 2015

Inspections
Above Asst. Chief Chad Gerrits
Below: Nick Bouressa and Joe Resch Joe Resch

Nick Ziegler

N ick Bouressa

Nick Bouressa Photos courtesy KFD

244
Kaukauna Fire Department Equipment 2015

2007 Special Operations Unit 2 141


2008 Paramedic Level Ambulance
Pierce International Custom
Unit 2192 from Lifeline Emergen-
cy

1989 Engine Unit 2122 Pierce 1978 15-Foot Alumacraft Boat


Arrow manufactured by Pierce
Manufocluring Photos by KFD
245
New Kaukauna Seagrave Fire Engine 2121
Delivered from Clintonville to Kaukauna
June 9, 2015

Bottom Left: Seagrave


Representative Bretl
Romberg, Fire Chief Paul
Hi rte, Seagrave Repre-
sentati ve Aaron Bilek

246
KFD Community Involvement

Fire Prevention Week Kaukauna High School


Courtesy Lyle Hanson

247
Fire Prevention Week Nicolet School I 992

TUI KAl:t\AUNA FJRE ~nlJifC'k'.hl~fl'J~&al~. .S:,wrk) "JABC'ufl 1re.tJ[ny,lo I.he H~yCrol1


K">ck'r'°'RMm (Ollu\\td by a fir:st-lulld li'lfll .11 lh~ htc U'Ul'k Pc11lted•tc the Holy Crot;, School F1rc011cfJ! fron1.
n.rr...,.111"' Kd.~()-Cocn:n. NMcy Aic- ll11Uf1htl'1'1d. Scocl Van 7...xlm.:.t. 'Jrny \bt<1•uG. AM V~c.Mo­
WA, :...11.• \lll:'h.:n.. G~Go:iu.1111 ~"- tu.ucOtMWa. ~ v,,._~,,..,. Phi V-{daamlaud O.•ld
(}((."OMCf ........ tct. )ta.. Fmicr. -.cllct •uatua&. fftf.,tMcr kny.J.sc-. Dtt.mtr. J.trN K.Mifll't.dl. Fln:Cicti~t Carl.
°"""*' 0..fDI CnJy V;m De Loo -.t \In. Sch~ ticada.

CUDDLY CREATURES were don3tcd 10 the Kaukauna Fire O.:p:mment by


members of Cub Seoul Pack 3027 31 SL. Mary's. More than 40 teddy bears
were presented to the dep;tnrncnt for distribution to smull children who
become involved in a U1lum;11.iccxpcrienccand need emergency services. Dis·
playing :1rrnloads or the plush an imals are Tony Bourcssn. P:1rarncdic Bob
N:1ck. J~mic Cazzola and Luke finnscn. (Times Photo by Glenn Hansen)
- ··-- - - - Photos courtesy
Cub Scouts Donate Cuddley Creatures Times -Vi llager

248
H.-~. £6~ct.~ k'tncleP9~.,.t-.._ ~Lca. s~ P,k.
t:Jd. ,, 1ff~

/t1.-•. ~I>~ tit' l<1ru:l~rt4t-f~n. Cl•' 5 f.M.


~c.-4-. ,, l'ffZ..
Photos courtesy or Jerry Kobussen

249
L to R. Cliff Hunke, Dean Bauer, Don Grindheim,
Scott Robach, Jon Mi ller
Raking leaves at an elderl y person's ho1ne

Ryan Steffel and Nick


Bouressa present fire
prevention program

Mike Hamilton
And
Firepup
present fire
prevention program

Courtesy of KF D

250
Kaukauna Fire Department
Fire Call Procedure

According to Fire Chief Paul Hirte when the fire department receives a
cal l, ·'Outagamie County 911 is the city 's public safety answering point (PSAP).
Thi s is where a ca ll for a fire , ambu lance or rescue ori ginates. The phone is an-
swered by a dispatcher where information from the caller is gathered and sent
by toned alert, fo llowed by voice description of the event over radio to the fire
department and also to all mobi le and portable radios. Additionally, call infor-
mation is sent over the department's mobile data computers (M OC) located in
the fire house, the fi rst out fire engine and the two paramedic level ambulances.
In formation includes a description or nature of call , address and if a medical
call , a code which identifies the seriousness of the call. This code is part of the
program called Emergency Medica l Dispatching (EMO) and the appropriate
code is determined by the dispatcher after entering the req uired information
from the caller into the program.
"When a fire call is received the front engine, a 1,500 ga llons per minute
pumper responds with 700 gall ons or water and with a crew of three to four fire-
fi ghting personnel (officer in charge, driver, and up to two firefigh ters). The
ambulance also responds with a firefighter/paramedic. Communication to the
9 11 dispatch center is done by voice radio and electronically by MDC by the
orficer in charge. The MDC provides the officer with dispatch information on
hi s screen, caller identification, premise infomrntion and a map to the location
of the call. The MDC has the city's hydrant system on it which enables the fire
department to locate the appropriate hydrant for water supply for the involved
address.
"Once on scene the officer in charge does a size-up of the involved premis-
es, and appropriate tactical objectives are determined. Firefighters enter the oc-
cupancy with donned personal protective equipment, self contained breathing
appa ratus, thermal imaging camera, charged hose lines and irons. The driver
operator assures a water supply. connects to fire hydrant as necessary and runs
the fire pump assuring adequate pressure and vo lumes of water to the fire-
fi ghting crew. If the fire is beyond control of the single engine company a sec-
ond or third alarm is requested and off duty and paid on call firefighting person-
nel respond with additional firefighting equipment.
"The Kaukauna Fire Department has 20 full-tim e firefighting paramedic
personnel. Everyone is cross trai ned as a paramedic. The department is supple-
mented with 18 paid-on-call firefigh ters. These firefighters are used in the event
fires go beyond those of an incipient stage, and also for cold water rescue, con-
fined space rescue, extrication and trench rescue.
" In the event of an emergency medical call , the fire department responds
with two firefighter paramedics. Ir the call is coded to indicate a higher level of
care is needed, an engine company is sent to assist the ambu lance crew. This

25 1
process increases the level of care for the patients by providing additional para-
medics on scene and shortens the time on scene.

Firefighter Paramedic Cody Foss Describes 24-Hour Shift

The fire service is a very unique job in the fact that it is one of the only
careers where you \\'Ork 24 hour shifts. At first this schedule may be hard for
many to understand or even work. Once you understand the reason and how the
24 hour shift un fo lds, you will see the benefits to having such a schedule. Eve-
ry person that works a 24 hour shift fee ls a litlle different about how it flows so
how I feel about the shin is by no means the golden rule. A 24 hour shift pro-
vides the community a fast response time to emergency situations because the
members are present at the tire department. After working 24 hour shifts for
more than eight years, I foel as though l could never work a 9 to 5 job again.
\.\forking 24 hours with the other members of the Kaukauna Fire Department for
this time frame has been special. The members have become my second fam ily
and the station my second home. To me a 24 hour shift is very exciting because
when I wake up and go to work I have no idea what is going to happen during
that 24 hours.
"For me working a 24 hour shift begins the night before I'm schedule
work. I o·wn a home with my wife and try to make sure that l have most of the
household duties completed so that they don' t sit unattained fo r 24 hours or pos-
sibly longer. I also try and spend some quality time with my fa1nily because I
know that l wil l not get to see them fo r 24 hours. One thing that is important lo
me is trying to get a good night sleep because the next day at work I may not
sleep for the whole 24 hour shift. On the day I am supposed to report to work I
usually get up at around 0615. I have a few c ups of coffee and watch a little
news. I slowly get into the mindset of working a 24 hour shift. In addition, I
make sure that my uni form is ready to go and that I have all the proper gear
along with food for the next 24 hours. I take a shower and say goodbye to my
rami ly and head 10 work .
"When I report to work at 0715 we as a depart ment meet with the shift
coming off duty and exc hange info rmation about the previous day, such as calls
and possible equipment used. During this morning timeframe I also gather my
gear and place it on the truck or ambulance depending on what vehicle I' m as-
signed to that day. It is not all business in the morning; we get a chance to talk
with the off-duty crew about their families and how things are going with their
lives. Being such a sma ll department here at Kaukauna everyone knows all the
members and strong fri endships have developed amongst members over the
years. At around 0745 we have a daily meeting with the chiefs and find out
what is expected throughout the day. Al the Kaukauna Fire Department we
have a work clay built into our 24-hour shifts, which is when general business,
such as maintenance, fire inspections, and various other tasks are performed.
These tasks are accompl ished throughout the day as long as we are not running
252
91 1 ca lIs. The work day at Kaukauna Fire Department ends al 1630 and after
that is what is called idle time.
" Idle time at the Kaukauna Fire Department is used for various things.
One is that the members of the Kaukauna Fire Department work out and try to
stay in shape. The fire service is a very physically demanding job and you have
to be in shape and prepared for any situation that may arise. Dinner time is also
happening during this period and the members eat together as a sh ift. 1 like to
cook and there are many members here at the Kaukauna Fi re Department that
have special dinner recipes that they share with the department. During idle
time we also spend time playing cribbage and various other card games. This
helps the members to bond and form a positive working relationship. This is
very important because in the fire service members depend on each other.
Spending time with the members of the department play ing games helps take
our minds ol'f the stress of certain calls and situations we arc placed in. The
members or the department are allowed to try and get some sleep after 2100 as
long if there are no 9 I I calls.
"At 07 15 the next day we head home and prepare for the next 24 hour
shift. I fee l as though I never real ly leave the station because with Kaukauna
being such a small department there is always a chance that I could get called
back in. If I get called back in, I want to come and help protect this community
by working with my fellow fighters.

New Employee Training


New hires of the Kaukauna Fire Department are required to ha ve a certain
1.evel of traini ng before becoming career firefighte r paramedics with the city.
One of the requirements is completion of a state certified paramedic program.
An associate paramedic degree is preferred and takes two years to complete the
68 educational credi ts. The other is a technical diploma program that consists
of over 1,200 hours of a mix of classroom and field based traini ng.
New hires additionally are preferred to have completed a state certified fire
protection program such as an associate degree in fire protection. This degree
program takes two years to complete and consists of70 educational credits. At a
minimum, new hires must have completed a Certified Fireligh ter I Course
which consists or 90 hours of classroom and hands on training in basic fire-
fightin g skills.
Once a new employee has been hired, training continues on the specific
specia lizcd operations oC the Kaukauna Fire Department. Employees must be-
come licensed to work as a paramedic. Licensing is completed through the State
of Wisconsin Health & Fami ly Services. Employees are given copies of, and
educated on, the fire department standard operating guidelines and City of
Kaukauna Personnel Policies and Regulations Manual.
After a new employee has fami liarized himself on the standard oper-
ating guidel ines, hands-on training begins on all equipment utilized by

253
the depattment. This includes standard firefighting equipment, medical equip-
ment, and equipment utilized during specialized operations offered by the fire
department. Emergency Medical Services is a large component of the fire de-
partment and the employee is educated in the risks of blood borne and airborne
pathogeons, and hands-on equipment train ing. Training includes utilization of
the paramedic reporting system the department uses. State licensed paramedics
are required to have 52 hours of continuing education every two years for re-
licensure. This training is ongoing and continues throughout the two year cycle.
Fire department personal protective gear and turnout gear is issued and the
limitations of each are discussed. Traini ng is completed on the specialized ser-
vices the department offers the citizen of Kaukauna. These include: vehicle ex-
trication, ice water rescue, swift water rescue, confined space rescue, trench
rescue and boat operations.
Fire prevention and inspection is an important part of the duties of a
Kaukauna firefighter. Personnel are trained on fire inspection procedures and
conduct semiannual fire inspections of all public buildings in the city. This al-
lows employees to inspect occupancies for fire hazards and become familiar
with the construction and layout of bui ldings in which they may have to fight a
fire.
A new employee has an 18-month probationa1y period. All recruits must
successfully complete the orientation criteria. During this time the employee's
ability to work in a fire department setting and meet the expectations of the
comrnunity with a strong desire to serve is evaluated.

Moving Forward
Today, thanks to tougher building codes, increased fire retardant bui lding
materials, fire sprinklers and smoke detectors, firefighters now receive two to
three times more medical aid calls than they do fire cal ls. Firefighter/paramedic
is now the average citizen's first line of medical help, providing everything
from a bandage to heart defibrillation .
TI1ere are more than 1.2 million firefighters in the United States who make it
their business to put out fires that occur at the rate of more than 300 every hour.
Firefighting is the most dangerous job in America. One firefighter is killed on the
average of about eve1y three days, and around half occur in the United States. To-
day firefighters in the United States are trained in fire prevention methods. Fire de-
partments are assigned inspection districts in which they attempt to prevent or cor-
rect w1safe conditions. All commercial or multiple-dwel ling buildings are inspected
at regular intervals and orders issued for correction of violations of fire codes. Fire
departments are charged with enforcement of the local fire prevention code, state
fire laws and regulations. Firefighters handle technical fire-prevention problems,
investigate the causes of fires, and conduct public education programs.
The enormous increase in transportation of hazardous materials and danger-
ous goods has resulted in intensified training for tire fighters. Their

254
departments often provide them with chemical protective clothing and monitor-
ing equipment. Fire departments also prepare and equip their firefighters to
handle emergencies that result from earthquakes, plane crashes and violent
storms. In addition, firefighters handle incidents that require extricating trapped
people from fal len structures, cave-ins and vehicular accidents. firefighters are
prepared to handle natural disasters, man-made disasters and many other types
of emergencies where people need help.
In many communities firefighters, in addition to training in firefighting. are
certified first Responders, emergency medical technicians or paramedics. Para-
medic training requires over 1,000 hours of classroom and cli nical training.
Fire Chief Paul Hirte addresses the concern and plans for the future of the
fire depa1tment. He states that "the Kaukauna Fire Department continues to
meet many challenges in providing the high level of services provided to the
community in a fiscally responsible manner. The department is a full service
fire department that provides fire suppression, paramedic level ambulance ser-
vice and various rescue services (confined space, trench, water rescue). As the
city has grown, so has the demand.
Public education is a priority for the fire department. Injury prevention
and health and safety programming is provided throughout the community,
schools, service organizations and scout groups. The firefighter paramedics
provide support for local events such as the Fox Cities Marathon , farmers mar-
ket, Recreation Groups and the Firecracker 5K. This area is constantly expand-
ing.
The fire department filled the one vacant position of firefighter/ paramedic
in April 20 15. The Kaukauna Fire Department operates with three shifts. Two
of the shifts have six firefighter/paramedics and one shift remains at five. The
department relies on our paid-on-call (POC) fiTefighters in the event of fire and
various rescues and continually work to recruit additional POC firefighters
from within the community. The POC firefigh ter position has a tremendous
amount of responsibility and demands placed on it. This fact and time commit-
ment makes it challenging for many to commit to this program.
Space needs will be addressed in the near future. T he city has acquired
land to build a new city ball and police department across from their current
location. It is planned that once these two departments are vacated, parts o f their
existing building will be removed creating space for a new fire station . This
new building will provide room enough for all of our equipment to be stored
indoor in one facility, storage space for firefighter personal protective equip-
ment, classroom training facility a long with living quarters, and administrative
offices.
The new site wi ll be large enough to accommodate onsite parking for fire-
fighters responding to the fire station for emergency calls. The site should pro-
vide an open area where firefighters can service test fire hoses and ladders and
perform vehicle and equipment maintenance. The open area wi ll provide a safe
area out of traffic for parking fire apparatus and enable the department to

255
perform simulated fire ground training tactics. Training and classroom facilities
will be added. The project will likely occur in 2016 or la1er.
In 2015 the department replaced our 25 year old fire engine. In seven
years one of the ambulances will be replaced. In 2023 the 105' ladder truck
will be replaced.
There are opportunities in the fire service to share personnel and equip-
ment. We have established mulual aid agreements with our neighboring fire
departments to provide equipment and personne l where needed and available.
This process has been in existence in the fire service for many years. Last year
we became part of MA BAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System). The system ena-
bles us to provide a predetermined response to fire and other emergency inci-
dents that requires support beyond our resources . This pre-planning shou ld re-
duce response limes while increasing response capacity in the event o f fire,
EMS, and natural and manmacle disasters.
Sharing o f resources will conti nue in the future. Perhaps, one day we will
be abl e to create fire districts in the Fox Valley or even consider a county-wide
fire department that would further enhance the level of fire protection, training
and pre-hospital emergency medical care with a regional cost shared system.
Kaukauna Fire Department provides ambulance service to the entire city
and parts of the suffounding communiti es. The city will likely see an increase in
the ambulance coverage area resulting in addi tional revenue to the city. which
offsets the costs of the entire department. The department may see the job de-
scripti on for paramedics change to include pat ient fo llo\.v-up evaluations and
assessments after hospital discharges. This would furth er expand the relation-
ships with local health care providers and collectively provide ways to help off-
set the escalati ng cos1s associated with health care.
Water remains the primary extinguishing agent, largely based on its availa-
bility and its abi lity to absorb heat. Water can be easily stored and distributed
for a long distance. Water is di stributed throughout the city through a municipal
water system. This system is part of Kaukauna Utilities where they provide wa-
ter from two municipal 500,000 gallon water towers and underground water
tanks with a storage capacity of 650,000 gallons. Water is then distri buted
through water mains, which supply water to us through fire hydrants. The City
of Kaukauna has approximately 915 fire hydrants. Fire hydrants are generally
spaced between 300 to 400 feet apart from one another. Water is pressurized in
the distribution system from direct pumping and gravity flow. All fire hydrants
provide us with a minimum of 1,000 gallons per minute llow. We are able to
connect large diameter fire hose (5 inch) along with fire engines, if needed, to
the fire hydrants to provide water to our fire pumps and ultimately to the attack
hose lines to adequately supply water to our :firefighting crews.
Fire crews are able to draft water if needed from alternative sources such as
rivers and ponds. The Fox River provides the city with a reliable alternative wa-
ter sou rce. There have been times in the history of the fire department when the
water supply was drafted fron1 the ri ver. Kaukauna also has industrial occupan-
cies that have private water supply systems, sprinkled buildings and pri vate
256
fire hydrants. These systems prove to be beneficial in fire protection of their
specific processes and structures; however, they are also dependent on the mu-
nicipal distribution system or from a supply source such as the Fox River.
The Public Service Commission defines the "hydrant rental fee" as the fire
protection charge that allows municipalities to charge expenses to providing fire
protection water supply systems. In 1988 the state legislature allowed for mu-
nicipalities to apply charges through the tax levy or place a direct charge on
general service water customer bills or as a combination of the two. The major
costs associated with the fire protection service are that of providing capacity in
wells, pumps, storage tanks and adequate water mains fo r the delivery of water.
The City of Kaukauna continued to apply the entire hydrant rental fee to
the tax levy and applied the expense to the fire department budget. In 1998 fac-
ing budgetary limits under the expenditure restraint program, the city council
passed a resolution that any hydrant rental fees that were greater than $400,000
be charged to water customers on their water bill. This amounted to approx i-
mately $147,000. After several increases over the years, the city passed a reso-
lution effective February 1, 20 13, that would not provide any funding for fire
protection payment to Kaukauna Utilities. All public fire protection costs asso-
ciated with hydrant rental are charged to the customer using a reasonable cost
recovery method.
Insurance Services Office (ISO) is the leading supplier of data and analysis
for the property/casualty insurance industry. The public protection classification
number is a result of information gathered from an on-site survey. Items con-
sidered in a TSO survey include readied engine companies, water supply, dis-
patch capabilities, training, staffed reserve engine and ladder companies. Com-
munities whose personal protection classification improves may get lower clas-
sification numbers which may directly result in lower or reduced insurance pre-
miums. Community protection baseline information gathered by ISO is also a
valuable benchmark when planning, budgeting, and justifyi ng fire protection
services and improvements. The classification numbers are based from 1 to I 0.
Prior to the upgrades to the water towers and associated infrastructure, fire
hydrants were color coded. The colors were indicati ve of water flow volumes.
Any hydrant that was painted red was identified of flowing 500 gallons of water
per minute, orange hydrants could flow between 500 and 1,000 gallons of water
per minute and those hydrants that were green were capable of flowing over
I000 gallons of water per minute. With the improved water system all fire hy-
drants within the city are capable of flowing at least I 000 gallons of water per
minute. The city decided to convert all hydrants to one traditional color of reel
fo r ease of maintenance and the el imination of painting. ln 1997 the city re-
ceived its current ISO rating of four. Previous improvements \.Vere noted in
1966 where the city was rated at six and in 1981 where the ISO rating went to
five.
The history of the two percent dues distribution goes back to the late 1800s
when state statute required all insurers to contribute a percentage of their insur-
ance premium to the local municipality to support the purchase of fire
257
equipment. Today, the two percent dues distribution qual ification is linked to
The departments inspection program, fi refighter training, and the confirmation
of the fire departments ability to have a staffed fire engine for an initial fire re-
sponse. The average payment to the city for the fire departments compliance is
$35,000 annually.
Al l of our fire responses are reported. Locally the Kaukauna Fire Depart-
ment is part of a fire record system that is housed and maintained at Outagamie
County. This system provides the department with a report that captures all of
the perti nent infonnation regarding the type of emergency or call that the fire
department responded to, response times, number of personnel on scene, origin
and cause of fire as well as other tasks completed to control the event. This rec-
ord system is also pat1 of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (Nl FRS)
and is adm inistered by the U. S. Fre Administration. NIFRS is used as a means
of assessing the nature and scope of the fire probl em in the U.S., tracking civil-
ian and firefighter injury and death and compiling data to effectively combat
tire probl ems within the country. Locally, the in formatio n reported is used to
record information about the calls. Data is compared to previous year's activi-
ties, state and national averages, applied to budgetary requests, fire prevention
programming, and as a means to measure the overa ll effecti veness.
The Kaukauna Fire Department has a long established history in providing
exceptional fire, rescue, and pre-hospital care to the entire community. Fire pre-
vention efforts have and will remain a strong emphasis in the department.
The fire department will always have fires to fight. Building construction
and components will continually change and they will consist of lighter materi-
al. Firefighters will face greater challenges in potential building collapse with
hotter, rapidly growing fire. It will be essential to conti nually provide training to
firefi ghters related to building construction and the associated expected fire be-
havior. This will include fire pre-planning of city buildings, especially large
commercial and industrial buildings. Tactical considerations will continue to be
a priority.
The fire service's mission wi ll continue to evolve into a more broad-based
risk control and management organization. The emphasis will continue to shift
more toward fire and injury prevention. As society moves toward more residen-
tial automatic sprinklers, :fire fata li ties and losses wi II decrease. Code enforce-
ment, property inspection, public fire safety and burn prevention education ef-
fo rts in the community will increase. This includes reducing injury. Firefighter
paramedics will provide education on issues such as hel met and bike safety,
res idential fall prevention and healthy life style choices. Paramedics will li kely
provide home health vis its to assist residents with medication use, provide
blood sugar levels, and fo llowing up with hospital discharge instructions. These
actions can prevent short term re-admissions to medical fac ilities and provide
valuable support to our community.
The fire depaitment has expanded significantly in the area of special opera-
tions. It has added technical trench rescue equipment, cutting and spreading ex-
trication tools, confined space entry equipment, and special ized water rescue
258
equipment. All of these operations require specialized training, while providing
or a safer community. Jn particular, areas of trauma and hazardous conditions in
our industrial settings have improved over the years.
Chief Pau l Hirte stated that ··the fire department will continue to be driven
by changes in society. There will be demands placed on public resources and
improvements for the overall efficiency of services and programs. Communi ty
needs wi II continue to be reviewed and changes will be met with proper plan-
ning. Government regulations may create operational requirements that can im-
pact service del ivery.
The organizational structure and staff within the fi re department provide
the mission statement and vision for our future:
"We arc positioned with dedicated firefighters, paramedics and chief offic-
ers who provide our community with progressive fire and EMS operations, haz-
ardous materials response, special rescue operations, and sound prevention pro-
gramm ing maki ng Kaukauna Fire Department a true full-serv ice agency."

Courtesy of KFD

259
Kaukauna Fire Department Training

Photo Top: l 936 Pump tcsl by rI


library canal bank. I;/, -r
Ri ghi: Chief Esler, Walter -
Specht. Ed Ward, Jack Zuehl,
and representative from v ~·
".
La France Company .

Pract icing pumping water wi th


new pumper t ruck

260
Mike Hami lton .
lnocelda and Bnan

Kaukauna Firef
Paramedic
·
~ghters/
sc1unnat · ·
mg exercis-es. .111 2014
e iam-

Photos
courtesy o f'KFD

26 1
Helmets, clothing and boots are
stored in individual cubicles

Weight Room

Pump Panel
On
U nit2l21
2002 Pierce Fire Truck

Photos courtesy of KFD

262
Kaukauna Fire Department Personnel

Fire Chief- Paramedic Paul Hirte

Assistant Fire Chief-Paramed ic Assistant Fire Ch ief-Paramedic


Don Grindheim Ray Mohr

Photos by Don Krueger

263
Assistant Fire Chief- Paramedic Assistant Fire C hief- Paramedic
Craig Schneider C had Gerrits

Lieutenant - Paramedic Lieutenant - Paramedic


Travis Teesch Michael Hamilton

Ph otos by Don Krueger

264
Lieutenant - Paramedic Dri ver Engineer - Paramedic
Heath Lietzan-Buechel Jon Miller

Driver Engineer - Paramedic Driver Engineer - Paramedic


Lonny Ziemer Ryan Kussow

Photos by Don Krueger

265
Dri ver Engineer - Paramedic Dri ver Engineer - Paramedic
Garret Dunham Joey Resch

Dri ver Engineer - Paramedic Firefighter - Paramedic


Cody Foss Ryan Steffel

Photos by Don Krueger

266
Firefighter - Paramedic Firefighter - Paramedic
Nick Bouressa Dustin Boyarski

Firefighter - Paramedic Firefighter - Paramedic


Brian Tnocelcla Nick Ziegler

Photos by Don Krneger

267
Firefighter - Paramedic
Curtis Halbach

Photo by Don Krueger

Kaukauna Police and Fire Commission

L to R: Beth Jasiak, Carla Zacharias, John Verkuilen, Joe Huss,


John Van Drunen

268
Appendix

Kaukauna Fire Department


Fire Chiefs

Will iam Klumb 1885 - 1886

Joseph Faust 1886- 1898

Henry Schubert 1898 - 1915

Albert Luckow 19 15 - 1933

Owen £. Roberts 1933 - 1934

Henry Esler 1934 - 1949

Carl Engerson 1949 - 1952

William Haupt 1952 - 1969

Ted Smits 1969 - 1985

Tom Roberts 1985 - 1988

Tom Jansen 1988 - 1997

Robert Nack l 998 - 2004

Paul Hirte 2005 - Present

269
Bibliography

Books
Bubolz, Gordon, Managing Editor, The land ofthe Fox Saga o.lOutagamie
County. Appleton, WI: Badger Printing Company, 1949.

Burgess Wise, Fire Engines & Fire Fighting. London Press: Octopus Books
Unlimited.

Ditzel Paul C. F ire Engines Fire Fighters. New Yo rk: Bonanza Books, 1984.

Hatmon, Paul W., Yesterday 's Fire Engines. U.S.: 1980.

Hass Ed, Fire Equipment, London: Kiln House London, 1998.

Kaukauna Fire Department Ledgers

Kaukauna 175 1h Jubilee Album

National Firefighters Foundation . Firefighters. New York: Universe Publishing,


2003

Otfinoski Steve, To the Rescue. New York: Benchmark Books, Marshall Cav-
endish, 1997.

Ryan, Thomas, History of Outagamie County Vol. I. C hicago: Godspeed .His-


torical Assoc., Industrial Kaukauna 1939

Tanner, H. B. , Raught, Mel. Kaukauna Glimpses of/ts Histo1y. Kaukauna, WI:


Kaukauna Times Printing Company.

Walking Tour Through Old Kaukauna. C ity of Kaukauna, 1963


Interviews
Paul Hirte, Jerry Kobussen, Robert Nack, Tom Roberts, Wayne Vanevenhoven

Newspapers
Appleton Post Crescent
Green Bay Press Gazette
Heart of the Valley Times
Kaukauna Sun
Kaukauna Times
M ilwaukee Sentinel
Times Villager

270
Kaukauna Public Library
Letter after fire of 12/27/44 to suppl iers asking for assistance
PictUie of old fire station
Pictures of Kaukauna Fire Department in 1926, new truck in 1924, fire
department in 1890's.
Article on Fire in Central Block 1937

Maps
Hartford insurance maps
Kaukauna City Engineering Department
Sanborn Fire Maps
Minutes
Kaukauna Police and Fire Commission Minutes
Board of Trustees of the Fireman's Pension Fund minutes

27 1
272
273
274
S19.00
ISBN 978-0-692-53446-5
51900>

9 780692 534465