Five full-time employees consisting of the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and 3 firefighter/engineers, currently staff the Spencer Fire Department. We are also fortunate to have approximately 30 volunteers who serve our community. Along with the full-time staff, and the volunteers, we have recently started a program in which selected high school students who have an interest in the fire service will be able to help in the safe zones of any fire call. A total complement of 25 people are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide, among other services, fire protection to the citizens of Spencer, 71 rural contract holders, and the Spencer Municipal Airport.
The department is housed at the Fire Station at 10 Grand Avenue, which was built in 1941. The two-story, 2 bay structure back then housed the department's 3 pumpers and the equipment van. Other equipment included a crew cab, 1-ton rescue vehicle, a command vehicle, and a water rescue trailer. Living quarters for the 24-hour personnel and meeting and training rooms are also included upstairs in the station.
In 2003 the decision was made that we needed to add on and make way for the future of the Spencer Fire Department. In 2006 the Spencer Fire Department completed an addition that included 4 drive-through bays, a training room, a dispatch area, Chiefs office, and an exercise area. The training area can also serve as a command area in the event of a county-wide natural disaster. We then remodeled the upstairs of the old station living area to accommodate additional 24-hour personnel if needed in the future. Now the department houses 3 pumpers, 1 75' Quint Aerial, and the wildland fire pickup. Other equipment includes a medium-duty rescue vehicle, 3 command vehicles, a water rescue van with a boat, and a UTV used for wildland fires, support at the Clay County Speedway, and rescues.
In addition to firefighting equipment, the vehicles also carry equipment for other types of assistance. In the past few years, the Spencer Fire Department has also responded to water rescues, car accidents, trenching accidents, search and rescue, gas leaks, spills, industrial accidents, aircraft emergencies, emergency medical calls, and in assisting law enforcement with evidence recovery. Because of the varied situations, the Fire Department may have over 50 training sessions per year including weekly practices of 2-3 hours, and schooling lasting 2-4 days. Many members of the Spencer Fire Department hold different levels of certification in various areas including Firefighter I or II, Certified Instructor, Hazardous Materials Operations, and Medical levels of Basic Life Support - Emergency Medical Technician and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician.
October 8, 1871, is the day the Great Chicago Fire took place. This fire blackened 2,000 acres, destroyed over 17,500 buildings, left 90,000 people homeless, and killed 200-300 people. From this fire rose a national interest in preventing its repetition. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson declared October 9th as "Fire Prevention Day". Since 1922, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established Fire Prevention Week around this date.
Many insurance companies use the Insurance Services Office (ISO) evaluation as a factor in setting the premiums they charge for property insurance; the better the community's grade, the lower the premiums the insurance company would charge for property insurance in that community. Water supply accounts for 40% of the rating. Fire equipment accounts for 26% of the rating. 15% reflects the number of firefighters available for the initial response and how quickly the firefighters can respond. The other 9% reflects the initial and ongoing training the firefighters receive. The alarm and paging system accounts for the remaining 10% of the rating. On a 1-10 scale of rating, the lower the number, the better the rating. Spencer's ISO grade as of 1 July 2023 is at a 3. Changes in the area served improvements in the city's water system improvements, additional fire stations constructed, new equipment added, improvements in the city's alarm and paging system, etc., are some of the items most likely to trigger a review.
During the month of October, the Spencer Fire Department comes in contact with approximately 1,600 elementary students in our schools, but fire prevention is actively promoted year-round. Our Fire Department works with our nursing homes, hospital, businesses, and the citizens of Spencer to provide guidance regarding fire safety in various circumstances such as fire drills, evacuation plans, extinguisher use, and many other safety matters. They feel that a good year-round program throughout the City is important.
In addition to providing many services for the Spencer area, the Spencer Fire Department also participates in yearly service projects including Flag Fest, Holiday Adoption Program, school functions, and many others.