New flagpole installed at Chatfield Fire Hall

City crew members Ryan Priebe and Bill DuBord install a new flagpole in front of the Chatfield fire hall. The fire bell display next to it was replaced last year. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Old Glory -- flyin’ high and lookin’ spiffy.

“We wanted to put a new flagpole up because the old one on the building, when we flew the flag at half-staff, it hung down on the building,” explained Chatfield Fire Chief Ryan Priebe. He watched as city crewmember Bill DuBord clipped the American flag to the new flagpole put up just north of the fire hall last Wednesday morning, gracing the early June skies with the Stars and Stripes.

And so, with a little spare change, the new pole was installed and Old Glory and the Chatfield Fire Department’s flags were put up on a proper, freestanding flagpole instead of the one that had been placed in the center of the fire hall’s front façade years ago. This new addition is part of an effort to smarten up the department’s presence in Chatfield.

The fire department has been in the process of giving the fire hall’s front yard a facelift, as last summer, a new fire bell display tower was built to replace the much-shorter, roofed model. The old bell, Priebe related, was put on the lawn between the hall and the Chatfield Public Library in 1973 to house the city’s original fire bell that was used in decades past to call firefighters to action but was retired upon the invention of pagers.

At that time, Priebe pointed out that the work done was meant to bring the attention of passersby to the fire bell itself instead of the roof that covered it. He stated, “The bell actually was not taken down, so no need for repairs on the actual bell, but we pretty much tore off the old decaying roof and put Palight trim board around the steel posts to make it look like it was made of wood and to make the bell the focal point, not the roof.”

He also noted last summer that the bell restoration project was made possible through a generous donation from the family of a former firefighter. “We have wanted to update that area for years now and haven’t figured out how we were going to do it, like how we were going to pay for it. The money was donated by Jerome Manahan’s memorial…his family wanted memorial money to be given to the fire department, and they didn’t really know what the money was going towards, but they just wanted to help the fire department any way they could. We didn’t want to just spend their money on tools and equipment…so we came up with the idea of updating the bell in front of the fire hall.”

The department has been fortunate enough in the past year and a half to also be able to purchase a new fire truck and replace some equipment, including its rescue saw — the saw being made possible through a grant the People’s Energy Co-op Operation Round Up program — which is used to cut holes in roofs and siding when firefighters need to get into a home quickly. It had also replaced its rescue struts, or jacks used to help get entrapped people out, and was last fall awaiting news of a federal grant to purchase new compressors to replace compressors last purchased in 1995.

Priebe and his crew held the annual Trout Classic pancake breakfast fundraiser in April — though the weather was very oppositional, with a raging snowstorm that dumped piles of wet snow on the best fishing holes — and continue to carry out training sessions to keep the firefighters ready to answer any calls.