News: Hatfield - Small Community, Big Goal (HF&R – 2012)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Nordin, Staffon, Dvorak

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 1/18/2012

Hatfield-Small Community, Big Goal (HF&R – 2012)

Small Community, Big Goal

By JoDee Brooke

Having outgrown its current facility, Hatfield Fire & Rescue Department has begun plans for a new station. Realizing it will take time to accomplish its goal of raising the estimated $450,000 needed for construction, the department is also confident it can be reached. “We would not have survived this long without the local support,” shared fire chief Gary Nordin. “We would not be in existence today without the support of our community.” There is a thermometer mounted on the front of the station indicating the donations as they arrive. The $25,000 Lunda Charitable Trust grant the department received in November got the mercury rising. Jodie Brooke/Banner Journal photo

As trucks got bigger and the fleet grew, Hatfield Fire & Rescue (HF&R) members came to realize the need for a new fire station. “Our doors just don’t accommodate moving the trucks in and out of the building,” explained fire chief Gary Nordin. “When we purchased our engine from the Black River Falls Fire Department, we had to change the light bar on top and go with a smaller one so we could get it inside the building.”

It was back in 1974 when Red Staffon and Doug Dvorak began looking into establishing a fire department in the Hatfield area in hopes of being able to provide better fire protection for Hatfield area residents and visitors. Both Staffon and Dvorak are still members of the department, which is strictly volunteer-staffed. The 1,600-square foot building currently housing the department’s vehicles was built in 1977. An addition was added in the early 80s.

Since its beginning, the fire department watched the Hatfield community grow in the past 30-some years. Through the years, it has been a popular spot for roller skating, dances, hunting and fishing. With its relaxed atmosphere surrounded by its natural beauty of water and woods, construction of both permanent and vacation homes and cabins surrounding Lake Arbutus flourished. With that growth comes the need for adequate fire protection.

The Hatfield firefighters respond to approximately 15 calls a year, “plus, the first responders roll out of here on average of 40 to 48 calls per year,” said Nordin. There are 15 men on the roster and Nordin is looking forward to two new recruits coming in. “Since I became chief four years ago, that’s been my main concern. We can have nice equipment, but can we find people willing to give to their community?”

Ten volunteers fulfill Hatfield’s first responder needs. “There are over 500 campsites between Clark and Jackson counties. There’s always something happening,” explained Nordin. “ATV traffic through here brought campers back as much as the lake does. We have a good working relationship with the Merrillan Fire Department, providing coverage to Dewhurst Township. We also provide service to parts of Adams and Komensky Townships.”

The community has been very good to Hatfield’s Fire Department through the years. “The community and organizations, like the Hatfield Sportsmen’s Club, our local ATV and snowmobile clubs and businesses are always holding some kind of raffle or some kind of fundraiser for us,” said Nordin. We had over 300 people at our fall banquet in October, people with Hatfield roots, people who come to visit and people with cabins. We are very fortunate these people are very generous the evening of our banquet trying to win some of the nice raffle prizes that we have acquired.”

In addition to the banquet, the fire department hosts the annual soup feed in February and the chicken barbeque in April.

“We would not have survived without the local support of the community,” Nordin said. “We have been approved as a nonprofit organization through the IRS, so all donations are tax deductible.”

Gaier Construction Corporation has drawn up preliminary plans for the new building to be built where the current station stands. “Tuffy was one of the original ones who got the department started,” Nordin said.

The plans increase square footage to 4,200 feet. The building includes a meeting room with a small kitchenette. “For our meetings now, we have to pull the first responder vehicle out and set up chairs and tables,” explained Nordin. “Our brush truck sits outside all year. We can’t very easily wash our trucks in the winter to clean off the salt and grime.”

With demolition and driveway and parking lot construction, the proposed cost is $450,000.

“We know it will take some time,” noted Nordin. “This has to come from the community. It will not raise property taxes. We have gotten off on the right foot by receiving a $25,000 grant from the Lunda Charitable Trust in November.”

“The community has always stepped up in the past,” recalled Nordin. “When word got out we were buying new lockers for our gear a few years back, bingo, the money came in from the snowmobile club. When the Sportsmen’s Club sold their building to Clearview Realty, the club gave the money to the fire department. We put it toward our newer used engine. The other day we found out someone had walked into the bank in December and put $1,000 unbeknown to us. I wish I knew who it was so I could shake his hand.

The department has a building fund account set up at the Jackson County Bank.

“We’re hoping to have it done within 10 years, but if it’s done in my lifetime, I’d be tinkled pink,” shared Nordin.



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