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On the Clock: Fighting fires and saving lives at the Chippewa Falls Fire Department

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Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Chippewa Falls firefighters and paramedics are always on call, using each hour they're given to keep the community safe.

"It's not just a job for the guys," said Battalion Chief Trevor Weiland. "It's their life. It's what we do."

A shift at the station is not for the faint of heart. In fact, it takes up an entire day.

"From 7 until 8 in the morning, we talk with the outgoing crew, and talk about the calls and what the day before had brought," said Weiland. "And what were going to do today."

Then the work day really starts.

"We do a general cleaning of the station, check our trucks and our rigs," said Weiland.

Firefighter/Paramedic Jose Lagunas

"There's nothing worse than going on a call and not having the equipment that you need," said Jose Lagunas, firefighter/paramedic. "So we do our own rig checks in the morning. Then it's your responsibility if you don't have something."

Between Chippewa Falls two stations, they get around 3,100 calls a year. They average about 8 calls a day.

"But we've had up to 15, 18 call days," said Weiland. "When we have an 18 call day in a 24 hour period, our guys are taxed."

EMS responses make up about 80% of those calls. However, even when the phone is quiet, there's no rest for the Chippewa Falls first responders. Instead, they make time for tactical and hands-on training. But training can never truly mimic the stress responders carry on a call.

"The toughest part of what we do is after the call," said Lagunas. "You know, you win some you lose some."

Battalion Chief Trevor Weiland

Fortunately, the department offers services to help responders manage stress. The station also offers a gym, dorm room and kitchen table for responders to reflect. Nevertheless, when a call comes in...

"We help people and when we go on these scenes, it's their worst day, and when we go out and we help them, that's what's rewarding with the job," said Weiland.

"If you're a person that wants to make a difference every day, without question, then this is the job for you," said Lagunas.

The Chippewa Falls first responders stay busy. With the same size department since 1990, calls have nearly doubled since then.

Shannon Hoyt

Shannon Hoyt started out as an intern in August 2017, moving to a full-time multi-media journalist and weekend anchor before becoming Daybreak anchor and now our 6 and 10 p.m. co-anchor.

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