Crossing Rivers donates prop to Fire Department

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(Left to right) Tim Deluhery Sr., Deputy Fire Chief; Tad Beutin, Fire Chief; Steve Rickleff, Assistant Fire Chief; Chris Brophy, CEO of Crossing Rivers; Kole Northland, Crossing Rivers Emergency Management Manager; and Andy Lucas, Facilities Director for Crossing Rivers, show off the new Draeger fire prop donated by the hospital. (Submitted photo)

By Steve Van Kooten


In the back parking lot of the Crossing Rivers Hospital, a group of employees stood in row and watched as a small cart erupted into flames. One by one, each person followed the instructions provided by Ben Pintz, Lieutenant at the fire department, and Tad Beutin, Prairie du Chien’s Fire Chief.

As each person approached the fire, they picked up an extinguisher and sprayed down the flames until they dissipated. The cart is a Draeger fire prop that can simulate a small fire. Beutin stood on the sidelines and could choke the fire off at any time, but he waited to ensure the every person in the class displayed the correct form to combat a fire.

“I have control of this,” Beutin said. “It doesn’t get out of control.”

The Draeger fire prop was donated by Crossing Rivers to the Fire Department to facilitate fire training for the hospital’s employees and other groups in need of comprehensive fire training. The unit, along with the accompanying accessories cost approximately $17,000, according to Beutin.

The fire department has made good use of it too: since July 24, Beutin estimated the department had provided fire safety to 180 people in 15 classes and said, “It’s all part of our community service.”

A fire device like the one from Draeger fits into a medium between other popular methods to simulate a fire hazard, such as a chemical pan or an electronic simulator. 

While Draeger’s system runs on a car battery and has pipes that filter propane into a pan filled with water to ignite flames, a chemical pan is a flat pan filled with liquid petroleum or other incendiary substance. Beutin noted a chemical pan fire is an “out of control fire” that could spread harmful chemicals in the local area and be harmful to the environment. Beutin also stated many chemical pans are homemade.

After the training, Beutin and Pintz refilled the water extinguishers with a hose next to the hospital’s storage. Instead of spending $20, $40 to refill real extinguishers, Beutin has little costs for supplies when they conduct trainings.

“With this, you at least get a little bit of the feel of the extinguisher,” Beutin said as he slipped his finger around the seal to tighten the handle. On the other end of the spectrum from a chemical pan, an electronic simulation uses a virtual fire on a screen and an extinguisher that emits a laser to detect the proper area of a fire to douse it. Compared to the PDC department’s system, an electronic version can cost up to $30,000 with training materials.

For Beutin, their current device has allowed the department to train hundreds of people efficiently and effectively. Beutin stated the fire department provides their fire safety for free, and they’re open to groups in search of training.

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