Saturday, May 14, 2011


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island, Wisconsin -

If one didn't know the anticipation for a new fire truck was the cause of all the cars out at the ferry dock Wednesday morning, May 12, the audience might have been credited for watching the ferry land amid a squall of wind and rain.   But recently, including several days this mid-week, heavy rains with wind squalls that spring on eastern winds have been too commonplace to catch islander attention - although I found it hard not to sympathize with ferry captain Ken Berggren as he brought the Eyrarbakki to position despite channel currents and gusts at the end of our island ferry pier during the moment of peak winds.

[Note:  Not having my camera at hand, I grabbed a small video camera to capture the event, then had to learn how to download and process the video and place it in blog format.  For the past two days Google's Blogger site has been interrupted for repairs, this being my first opportunity to try the video posting.]

The Eyrarbakki landed safely, and with several lines secured to shore and diesels thrumming at elevated power to hold the bow in place, the 1985 Pierce fire truck was driven ashore.  This truck is a new acquisition for the Washington Island Volunteer Fire Department, coming from the neighboring Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Department on the peninsula to our south, purchased with $45,000 in donated funds.  

A campaign that began in early October drummed up both political and financial support for a truck that will boost the island's potential to fight fires. Since funds were not budgeted by the Town for that purchase, and given a limited window of availability - a "special neighbor" offer from the Sister Bay-Liberty Grove Fire Department - willing donors met the challenge in a few month's time.   

Specifically, this truck's ladder and snorkel will help to fight fires in structures having metal roofs, structures situated on properties dotted with adjacent trees, sometimes accessed by snaking, narrow drives, and it will offer increased reach above the newer, multi-level seasonal homes that have eclipsed the old time, single-bedroom cottage-by-the-lake.      

This fire truck, designated Engine No. 21 by its previous owner, will retain the same unit number out of superstition and tradition as it enters service on Washington Island.

  -  Dick Purinton


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