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Freemasons provide new firefighting tool to Douglas County departments

Local freemasons from the Acacia-Itasca and Superior masonic lodges presented each of the departments with a Fire Suppression Tool (FST) aerosol fire extinguisher.

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Roy Dolsen, master of the Acacia-Itasca Masonic Lodge in Superior, holds a Fire Suppression Tool (FST) unit outside the town of Superior fire hall on Wednesday, June 29. Four volunteer fire departments in Douglas County were presented with FST units, a gift from the Wisconsin Freemasons.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Four fire departments in Douglas County — the towns of Superior, Gordon and Oakland as well as the village of Lake Nebagamon — have a new tool for knocking down fires.

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Town of Superior Fire Chief Darryl Fiegle, left, receives a Fire Suppresion Tool (FST) from Ray Dolsen, master of the Acacia-Itasca Masonic Lodge, outside the town of Superior fire hall on Wednesday, June 29. The units work like a fire extinguisher or water can to suppress fire, but function independently without needing a firefighter to hold them. The operator just pulls the pin, then tosses the device into the room.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Local freemasons from the Acacia-Itasca and Superior masonic lodges presented each of the departments with a Fire Suppression Tool (FST) aerosol fire extinguisher Wednesday, July 29.

“These are actually a gift from the Freemasons of Wisconsin, and we’re providing them all over the state. There are small departments all over the place, first responders that are receiving this as a gift so that we can actually help these small departments do their job,” said Darrell Kyle, past master of the Acacia-Itasca lodge. “It’s really important to us, as a fraternity, to do good things in our communities and this is just one of the ways that we do that.”

The 11-pound devices, roughly the size of a handbag, generate an aerosol mist that fills a space of up to 5,300 cubic feet with a powder that suppresses flames. Fire Suppression Solutions LLC, which manufactures the FST, states on its website that the units can reduce temperatures up to 1,000 degrees within 35 seconds and prevent flash-over without removing oxygen. They are also operational to 55 degrees below zero and have a 15-year shelf life.

Town of Superior Fire Chief Darryl Fiegle said the new devices are similar to a handheld fire extinguisher or a water can, which are meant to limit the growth of a fire. Unlike fire extinguishers or water cans, the new devices work automatically with no need for a firefighter to hold them.

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“This actually will help because we don’t actually have to go in somewhere. We don’t have an air pack on,” Fiegle said. “We can pull a pin and launch the device into the building and then we’re not actually inside the building. So that’s a benefit.”

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Representatives from the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, including assistant chiefs Stan Dzikonsi, third from right, and Pete Warner, second from right, look over the new Fire Suppression Tool (FTS) the Acacia-Itasca Masonic Lodge gave them on Wednesday, June 29, outside the town of Superior fire hall.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The devices would be helpful for smaller, single-room fires and for the initial response to a blaze.

“This will be a big help so if we were called to a fire and one of our smaller trucks is on scene, they can deploy that device. It’s meant to limit the growth of the fire so we can get our hose line and attack lines into position and make an advance on the fire,” Fiegle said.

Ray Dolsen, master of the Acacia-Itasca lodge, said a number of fire departments in Bayfield County have also received FST units from the Masons, including Iron River and Barnes.

"It’s a new capability," said Pete Warner, assistant chief with the Oakland Volunteer Fire Department.

Valued at $1,000, the Wisconsin-made fire suppression tools are single-use, but Fiegle said insurance companies often reimburse fire departments if one is deployed.

Ron Pete, a member of the Acacia-Itasca lodge as well as chairman for the town of Superior, said they specifically gifted the devices to fire departments in different areas of the county to increase their reach. Two additional units have been ordered and will be distributed to other first responder units in the county, according to Kyle. Much of the funding for the FST units was made possible through the Wisconsin Masonic Foundation.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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