For 2019, the Sauk City Fire Department will receive $322,167 from the seven municipalities the department serves. The department’s budget is based on the equalized value of each of those municipalities, with Sauk City comprising the largest portion of the department’s budget at $90,284.
The department’s overall assessment for 2018 was $313,893, and Sauk City’s portion for 2018 was $86,415. That number reflects a 4.3 percent increase for the entire district. The Sauk City Fire Department’s district spans parts of three counties over 172 square miles and is one of the largest districts in southern Wisconsin, Sauk City Fire department President Tom Wipperfurth said.
Sauk City Fire Department is the oldest, organized volunteer fire department in the state, having been established in 1854 when the village of Sauk City was incorporated.
Breunig said the increase can be attributed to replacing old equipment, maintenance on the department’s fleet. “As our trucks get older it costs us more to fix and maintain them,” Breunig said. “Our ladder truck is from 1992.”
The cost for annual, basic maintenance on a truck costs upwards of $10,000, which includes the required Wisconsin DOT inspection.
Breunig said since the 1960s the department has kept its fundraising earnings in a bank so interest will grow. That money goes toward the purchase of any new, major equipment, he said.
What’s more, the department has donated back about $206,000 worth of equipment since 2001, Wipperfurth said. “That comes from all the fundraising we do, like our brat stands and pizza sales at Cow Chip, our Toy Show, Halloween dance and other events,” Wipperfurth said.
Breunig said the department is “a few calls away” from having a record year, and the year isn’t over.
In 2019, the department hopes to add a driveway in the back of the station. While the department typically leaves and enters from the front, there are times its difficult due to the heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Madison Street. “It’s a safety thing for us and the community,” Wipperfurth said.
Because of National Fire Association standards, the department will need to replace 45 helmets in 2019 as well. “And we will continue actively recruiting for new volunteers,” Wipperfurth said. “We are proud of our station and what we do for the communities. When people thank us, it actually means a lot.”