Town Talk: A look at firefighting in New Ulm in 2018

The mission of the New Ulm Fire Department is to save and protect lives and property in the city of New Ulm and the surrounding area. We believe in being responsive to the needs of our citizens by providing timely and professional services essential to the health, safety, and well-being of those we serve. We strive to achieve our mission through prevention, inspection and fire suppression. The Department recognizes its members as its most valuable resource and is committed to providing quality emergency response.

As part of fire service, we also gather statistics. However, it’s not the amount of data gathered, but what we do with the data. Read on to review some of the New Ulm Fire Department statistics for 2018 and how we interpret them.

There were 96 fire calls in 2018 with 12 of those being rural fire calls. Property loss in these fires totaled over $657,500, fortunately no lives were lost. This is well below the number of fire calls in 2017 which was 139. While the number of fires decreased, it is not a prediction for the future nor does it lessen the level of risk. To aid in response, the department must address equipment needs. In 2018, a new fire truck for the Goosetown Station was ordered. Production on the truck will begin this month with final inspection scheduled for May. As a fire department, we must remain vigilant and prepared to respond even if the number of fire calls decreased.

In 2018, our volunteer firefighters spent over 5,300 hours participating in trainings, meetings, community events and fire prevention activities. Some of the training topics included pump operations, live burns, propane fires, ice and boat rescue, rope and hill rescue, vehicle extrication, CPR, OSHA courses and more. Community events included National Night Out, Hermannfest Fireworks, Bavarian Blast Parade, Vehicle Fair, Fly-In Breakfast, Hill Climbs and the Brown County Demolition Derby to name a few. Fire Prevention education is ongoing, however during Fire Prevention Week in October, volunteer firefighters spend many hours educating children and community members to keep themselves and their families safe. We realize the many hours spent training and educating are essential in providing quality service to the community. In addition, we value our firefighters for their dedicated service.

The inspection component of fire service strives to enforce fire codes which prevent fires and protect residents. As the Fire Chief, it is my responsibility to enforce the City Ordinance regarding residential rental properties. In 2018, 1,571 residential rental units were registered, and 659 units were inspected. Inspections are on a two-year rotation. One of the most common findings is non-working smoke and/or CO detectors. Make sure to test your detectors once a month, replace the batteries every six months and replace the unit if it’s over ten years old. Statistics show working smoke alarms cut your risk in half of dying in a residential fire. Smoke alarms save lives.

Lastly, our ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating is 3. Ratings are on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the best. There are 782 fire departments in the State of Minnesota and only 65 are rated a 3. Insurance companies use ISO scores when setting rates for home and commercial property insurance.

There’s a lot of numbers throughout this article, but possibly the most important number of all is one; if we continue to prevent fires and save lives, one at a time, we are accomplishing our mission.

Editor’s Note: The City of New Ulm presents a weekly column highlighting activities in different departments in the city government. Once a month the city will answer questions from readers. Questions on New Ulm city issues can be sent to