Commissioners want confusion over 911 calls fixed

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Just over a month after dispatching confusion left Randy and LuJean Thielke of Fairfield Township with a $15,500 Appleton Fire Department bill another fire call in the western Swift County township pointed to continuing problems.

George and Diane Duckwitz’s farm sits two miles west of U.S Highway 59 in Section 20 of Fairfield Township. November 12 one of Duckwtiz’s barns caught fire and burned to the ground.

 “When the fire erupted, I yelled to my brother and wife, ‘Somebody call 911!’” Duckwitz told Swift County’s Board of Commissioners at the Nov. 19 meeting. His wife ran to their house and called 911, contacting Swift County dispatch and giving it their address. The dispatcher told her that the Morris Fire Department was to be called. “As far as I know, that was the end of the discussion. I don’t know if the Swift County dispatch called the Morris Fire Department, or not.”

Duckwitz’s brother, Lester, also called 911, but on his Trac cell phone. He reached the Stevens County dispatch center, but it couldn’t identify the address from a ping on the cell phone but was able to identify where the fire was. The Morris Fire Department was the first to arrive at the Duckwtiz farm with Appleton also dispatched to provide aid. Duckwitz hasn’t seen a bill from the Appleton Fire Department.

Fairfield Township contracts with Stevens County for its fire calls.

After hearing about the bill that Randy Thielke got from the Appleton Fire Department, Duckwitz said he was quite concerned. “I don’t have $15,000 cash readily available to pay for something like that,” he told commissioners.

If the wind would have been out of the west or north, Duckwtiz said he would have let the fire burn without calling the fire department. However, the wind was out of the southeast causing all the embers flying away from the fire to go toward his other barns and storage structures.

He was able to save most of his animals, except for three baby pigs.

“I am now respectfully requesting the board of commissioners to direct the appropriate agencies to take a look at what is going on with the 911 responses,” Duckwitz said...


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