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Tuesday - March 13, 2018 1:00 am

Donation to help Stoddard-Bergen firefighters fight dangerous disorientation

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Fire chief Joe Pfaff must have thought he was just having a polite conversation with Paula Johnson.

Next thing the Stoddard-Berjen chief knows, his department has over $4,000 in of life-saving equipment.

"She said 'Hey I was online and I did a Google search and I found this. What do you think about that?'' Pfaff said of a conversation he had with Johnson about a navigation device that fits inside a firefighter's helmet. "I'm like, 'That's neat. It's a great concept.'

"That's kind of where it left and, next thing I know, she was able to help us out with it."

Johnson and her family donated the Eau Claire-based Northern Star devices to the station. The small, compass-like piece of equipment can help a disoriented firefighter exit a burning building.

"It's just a little, small - about the size of a quarter," Pfaff said. "It fits in the lower part of the mask. A firefighter is able to look down and get orientation to where they're at.

"A lot of times with a fire, when it's all dark, it's difficult to figure out which direction you're going and it's easy to get turned around."

Thanks to their donation, all 25 firefighters in the department will have a device, which cost $169 apiece.

After some training, the department put the devices into service last week.  

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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