De Pere Fire Chief looks to rural firefighting method to keep historic district safe

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – After fighting the massive fire on Broadway April 24, the De Pere Fire Chief is looking to install a firefighting tool which rural communities have been using for years.

Fire Chief Matzke says firefighters lost control of the blaze until rural fire crews assisting in the effort started drawing water from the Fox River for much need ammunition

“We pumped over 8,000 gallons a minute out of the river that night,” Fire Chief Matzke told Local 5.

The river-fueled dosing again giving firefighters the upper hand.

“That’s what turned the tide in that firefight,” Matzke continued. “Where we were able to put enough water on it to overcome the BTUs being generated.”

And while effective, setting up that drafting operation took precious time.

Now, Matzke is proposing a tool to draw water easily from the Fox River 24/7 by installing something called a dry hydrant.

“Dry hydrants are essentially a plastic pipe in the ground under the frost line and it allows us to pull water from a static water source in a real timely fashion,” Matzke explained.

Rural fore departments like Morrison have used dry hydrants for years, allowing them to quickly draw water from a static source like a quarry.

Morrison’s Assistant Fire Cheif says dry hydrants that night would have helped.

“We had all our hoses laying in with strainers on” Assistant Cheif Pischke described. “When you’re pulling your water so fast you suck fish, everything, all of a sudden you can’t get water, so you got to pull the hose out, clean it out, put it back in…that takes time.”

Matzke wants to install five dry hydrants along the Fox River downtown. Three of the five are proposed on the east side while two would be on the west.

The total cost of the five hydrants is about $15,000.

“Having these dry hydrants available to us in the downtown area will make all the difference in the world,” Matzke said.

Providing quick access to river water if needed again to fight a fire in this historic part of the city.

The chief has applied for a grant managed by the DNR. He’d like to install the dry hydrants in the spring

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