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Osage set to open new fire hall for Carsonville squad

Osage set to open new fire hall for Carsonville squad. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

While Hubbard County's fire departments debate the purchase of narrowband radio equipment, the Carsonville Fire Department is staying out of the fray.

For one thing, Carsonville already purchased VHF digital equipment a few years ago, thanks to a $1 million Becker County grant award for the 10 fire departments to spend on equipment.

But Carsonville is also nearly ready to open its new fire hall, part of a new Osage Community Center complex. The grand opening is set for April 10.

For Becker County and Carsonville, the decision to go VHF digital has not been as controversial as it has been in Hubbard County, where heated discussions have taken place over whether emergency personnel should purchase the expensive state equipment called ARMER or upgrade existing radios by converting to the VHF digital software.

"We're not using the digital stuff yet until the county is ready," said Fire Chief Roger Wilson.

Becker County has opted to purchase VHF digital equipment, Wilson said. Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer said last week he'd recommend his county do likewise.

But Wilson said he doubts there will be communications difficulties if Hubbard County fire departments go with an 800 megahertz system as they have planned.

Occasionally, Park Rapids and Carsonville use a mutual aid agreement to help each other at fires near the Hubbard and Becker County lines.

"I don't think it's a big problem communicating whichever way they go," Wilson said. A patch will allow the departments to communicate with each other.

Carsonville meanwhile is getting its new fire hall ready for the April 10 unveiling. Osage Township built the building and funded the startup costs; Carsonville will staff it, Wilson said.

The squad also operates out of Ponsford.

The busy department, which handled 185 calls in 2009, recently was awarded a $28,000 FEMA grant to upgrade its equipment. It purchased new hoses, nozzles, extrication equipment and a spreader for its Jaws of Life unit, Wilson said.

He said the squad of 24 certified First Responders and firefighters, which responded to three calls last Saturday, handles primarily medical assists.

And, at a payment of $6 per call for each responder, Wilson said it takes a dedicated staff to leave jobs, family and personal time to serve.

The fire hall's open house will be held from 1-3 p.m.